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Abrams, Harry Nathan (23 February 1905–25 November 1979), publisher and art collector, was born in London, England, the son of Morris Abrams, a shoe store proprietor, and Amelia Rosenberg. In 1913 the family moved from London to New York City, where Abrams studied at the National Academy of Design and at the Art Students League....

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Altman, Benjamin (12 July 1840–07 October 1913), merchant and art collector, was born in New York, New York, the son of Philip Altman, a dry goods merchant, and Cecilia (maiden name unknown). His father, a Jewish immigrant from Bavaria who had come to the United States in 1835, operated a small dry goods store named Altman & Co. on Third Avenue near Tenth Street. Young Altman worked with his brother Morris in his father’s shop in the afternoons. He left school at the age of twelve to work there full time and later held a variety of sales jobs with other dry goods shops in New York City and in Newark, New Jersey. When his father died in 1854, Altman and his brother took over the store, changing its name to Altman Bros. The business prospered, and by 1865 they moved to Third Avenue and Tenth Street; they moved again to a larger building on Sixth Avenue between Eighteenth and Nineteenth Streets in 1870. Morris left the business but remained a partner, and when he died in 1876, Altman became sole owner, later changing the name of the firm to B. Altman & Co....

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Arensberg, Walter Conrad (04 April 1878–29 January 1954), art collector, poet, and writer, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Conrad Christian Arensberg, an industrialist, and his second wife, Flora Belle Covert. Arensberg attended Harvard University, receiving his B.A. in 1900 with the accolade of class poet. While at Harvard he was an editor of the ...

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Avery, Samuel Putnam (17 March 1822–11 August 1904), wood engraver, art dealer, and rare book and print collector, was born in New York City, the son of Samuel Avery and Hannah Parke. His father, variously listed as a shoe maker and a leather merchant, died of cholera in 1832. Through an apprenticeship in a bank-note company, Avery was able to learn the essentials of the wood-engraving trade. Officially recorded as an engraver in the 1842 New York City directory, he earned a living by engraving labels and making handbills for local merchants. At the same time he began a long involvement with the publishing trade, working for periodicals such as ...

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Bache, Jules Semon (09 November 1861–24 March 1944), financier and art collector, was born in New York City, the son of Semon Bache, a merchant of glass and mirrors, and Elizabeth van Praag. Bache attended the Charlier Institute in New York City and supplemented his studies in Frankfurt, Germany. He worked for a few years in his father’s firm before beginning a financial career in the employ of his uncle Leopold Cahn. At the brokerage of Leopold Cahn & Company, Bache worked his way from cashier (1880) to treasurer (1881) to partner (1886). In 1892 he took over the firm, renaming it J. S. Bache & Company. Also in 1892 Bache married Florence Rosalee Scheftel, the daughter of a well-known New York City merchant; they had two children. Bache and his wife were divorced in Paris in 1925....

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Albert C. Barnes Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1940. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 102 P&P).

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Barnes, Albert Coombs (02 January 1872–24 July 1951), collector, educator, and entrepreneur, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Jesse Barnes, a butcher, and Lydia A. Schafer. Barnes’s father lost his right arm in the Civil War, and his ability to support his family proved sporadic. However, Albert’s mother, to whom he was devoted, was hardworking and resourceful. Among his most vivid childhood memories were the exuberant black religious revivals and camp meetings he attended with his devout Methodist parents. Accepted at the academically demanding Central High School, which awarded bachelor’s degrees, his early interest in art was stimulated by his friendship with the future artist ...

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Bliss, Lillie P. (11 April 1864–12 March 1931), art collector, patron, and benefactor, was born Lizzie Plummer Bliss in Boston, Massachusetts, daughter of Cornelius Newton Bliss, a textile merchant who was active in Republican Party politics, and Elizabeth Mary Plummer. In 1866 the family moved to the Murray Hill section of New York City, where as a young girl Bliss was privately educated. She lived there caring for her invalid mother until 1923, when her mother died. Bliss acted as hostess in New York and Washington, D.C., for her father, who served as secretary of the interior (1897–1899) in the cabinet of ...

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Chrysler, Walter Percy, Jr. (27 May 1909–17 September 1988), art collector and benefactor, was born in Oelwein, Iowa, the son of Walter P. Chrysler (1875–1940), founder of the corporation that bears his name, and Della Viola Forker. “Collecting has always been in my blood,” Chrysler said. He was brought up amid his family’s art collection, was taken to many art museums and galleries, and his wealth facilitated acquiring what was to become his passion. While attending Hotchkiss School, he used his father’s birthday gift to purchase his first work of art, a Renoir watercolor, which included a small nude figure. His dormitory master was horrified, and, as Chrysler later recalled, “busted it over his knee and threw it in the trashcan” ( ...

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Clarke, Thomas Benedict (11 December 1848–18 January 1931), art collector, was born in New York City, the son of George Washington Clarke, an educator, and Mary Jane McKie. Clarke attended the Mount Washington Collegiate Institute, in New York City, a school founded and run by his father. In 1871 he married Fannie Eugenia Morris, the daughter of grocer-alderman John J. Morris; the couple had five children, a son and four daughters. By 1872 Clarke was dealing in laces, collars, and linens in partnership in New York City with one John Carmichael. Four years later he was manufacturing linen collars in partnership with Thomas King of Troy, New York. He retired from Clarke & King in 1892 to devote his full attention to collecting and selling art. Clarke held several semipublic positions, including trustee of the Brooklyn Bridge (1880), and became practically a professional clubman, joining, among other clubs, the Brook, Metropolitan, Century, Union League, Manhattan, New York Athletic, and New York Yacht Club....

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Cone, Claribel (14 November 1864–20 September 1929), and Etta Cone (30 November 1870–31 August 1949), art collectors, were born in Jonesboro, Tennessee, the daughters of Herman Cone, a grocery business owner, and Helen Guggenheimer. The Cone family moved in 1871 to Baltimore, where Herman Cone opened a wholesale grocery business. The business flourished, and the Cones moved to a fashionable neighborhood and engaged in the social life of a large German-Jewish community. By the late 1880s the two eldest sons, ...

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See Cone, Claribel

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Dale, Chester (03 May 1883–16 December 1962), investment banker and art collector, was born in New York City, the son of Thomas W. Dale, a department store salesman, and Jane Roberts. Dale attended Peekskill Military Academy, but he left school when he was fourteen and began working as an office boy and runner on Wall Street. By 1904 he was an independent broker, and in 1909 he formed a partnership specializing in railroad mortgages and utility bonds with his friend William C. Langley. In 1911 Dale married Maud Murray a few weeks after she divorced his friend Frederick M. Thompson; they had no children....

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Daniel, Charles (11 August 1879–14 May 1971), art collector and gallery owner, was born in New York City, the middle of nine children. His father (whose name is unknown) was a coal miner in Germany before emigrating to the United States. In 1868 he met and married Daniel’s mother, and together they opened a German restaurant in what is now Manhattan’s Chelsea district. Daniel completed high school and went to work at his parents’ restaurant until approximately 1900, when he opened a place of his own with his brother George. Located on the corner of 9th Avenue and 42d Street, the Daniel Saloon became a regular meeting place for young painters such as Glenn O. Coleman (whose family had a printing shop nearby), Max Kuehne, and Ernest Lawson. Through these artists, Daniel began to learn about contemporary painting, to visit the local exhibitions, and, eventually, to collect works of art. In 1910 Daniel visited ...

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du Pont, Henry Francis (27 May 1880–11 April 1969), art collector and horticulturist, was born in Winterthur, Delaware, the son of Henry Algernon du Pont, an army officer and U.S. senator, and Mary Pauline Foster. After taking an A.B. at Harvard College in 1903, the young du Pont spent a number of years traveling throughout the United States and Europe, the du Ponts’ financial success having released him from career obligations. In 1914, however, his father asked that he take over the day-to-day management of the dairy farming operation at “Winterthur Farms,” the family farm in rural Delaware. Under du Pont’s meticulous direction the farm developed a nationally famous and prize-winning herd of Holstein-Friesian cattle, specimens of which were consistently voted among the best of breed in the country, serving as the foundation for many other registered Holstein herds throughout the United States. The spectacular success of the cattle herd, in combination with du Pont’s unusual willingness to experiment with innovative new practices in soil conservation and crop production, allowed Winterthur Farms to develop a reputation as the model of a modern American dairy farm....

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Evans, William Thomas (13 November 1843–25 November 1918), art collector and museum benefactor, was born in Cloghjordan, County Tipperary, Ireland, the son of William Evans and Maria Jane Williams. Brought to the United States as an infant, Evans attended but did not graduate from the New York Free Academy. He trained for one year in an architect’s office before becoming a bookkeeper, around 1860, for the lace merchant E. S. Jaffray & Co. Evans spent the remainder of his commercial career with Mills & Gibb, a dry-goods importer founded by two of Jaffray’s clerks. He started as chief bookkeeper and worked his way up to president in 1904....

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Fenollosa, Ernest Francisco (18 February 1853–21 September 1908), educator, poet, and Orientalist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Manuel Francisco Ciriaco Fenollosa, a Spanish musician who had come to the United States in 1838, and Mary Silsbee, who died when Ernest was eleven. After attending Salem High School, the sensitive and reserved young man entered Harvard College, where he studied with ...

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Freer, Charles Lang (25 February 1854–25 September 1919), art collector and museum founder, was born in Kingston, New York, the son of Jacob R. Freer, variously a horseman, innkeeper, and farmer, and Phoebe Jane Townsend. At age fourteen, Freer left school to work in a cement factory; he later became an office clerk for Frank J. Hecker, the director of a local railway. In 1876 Freer followed Hecker to Logansport, Indiana, to work for the Detroit, Eel River and Illinois Railroad, and in 1880 they went together to Detroit to incorporate a company that manufactured rolling stock. In 1892 the Peninsular Car Works merged with its Detroit competition, and in 1899 Freer engineered the consolidation of thirteen car-building companies, including his own, to create the American Car and Foundry Company. At the age of forty-five, he retired from active business to pursue a career in connoisseurship....

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Gellatly, John (1853–08 November 1931), art collector, was born in New York City, the son of Peter N. Gellatly, a Scottish émigré, and his Irish wife (name unknown). Orphaned at age seven and raised by his uncle William A. Gellatly, a partner in the New York pharmaceutical firm W. H. Shieffelin & Co., John Gellatly grew up with his cousins at Llewellen Park in West Orange, New Jersey. Another uncle, Burt Gellatly, an amateur painter, encouraged John’s early interest in art....

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Gilcrease, Thomas (08 February 1890–06 May 1962), oilman and art collector, was born William Thomas Gilcrease in Robeline, Louisiana, the son of William Lee Gilcrease and Mary Elizabeth Vowell, farmers. When Tom was an infant, the family moved to Indian Territory where his mother, who was one-quarter Creek, was entitled to live. As the eldest of fourteen children, Gilcrease grew up working on the family farm and attending school only sporadically. In 1896, when the federal government ordered the Five Civilized Tribes to compile membership rolls in preparation for an allotment of land, Gilcrease became an official member of the Creek tribe by virtue of his one-eighth blood heritage. In 1899 he was awarded his 160-acre plot of land. It proved an immensely lucky piece of property. Located twenty miles south of Tulsa, the land was in the middle of the Glenn Pool, one of the most profitable oil fields in Oklahoma....