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A. Deirdre Robson

(b London, Dec 8, 1904; d New York, Nov 25, 1979).

American publisher and collector. He trained at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York before working in publishing. In 1950 he set up his own publishing company, Harry N. Abrams Inc., one of the first American companies to specialize in art books. In 1968 he founded Abbeville Books. His collecting, which began in the mid-1930s, went through three distinct phases: his first interest was in such contemporary American painters as Milton Avery and Raphael Soyer. He continued to purchase such works into the 1950s, but from the mid-1940s his collecting began to be dominated by works by major 20th-century artists; he acquired, among other works, Marc Chagall’s Clock (1948), Pablo Picasso’s Motherhood (1921) and Georges Rouault’s Miserere (1939).

Abrams’s most notable period as a collector was the 1960s, when he became known as a major collector of new American art. His interest in this area was fuelled by the ...

Article

John Ford

[Rudolf]

(b Stollberg, Saxony, April 20, 1764; d Finchley, London, March 30, 1834).

English publisher and patron of German birth. He trained as a carriage designer in Paris and moved to England between 1783 and 1786. He established his own business as a carriage maker, undertaking major commissions in London and Dublin. In 1804 he designed Pius VII’s carriage for the coronation of Napoleon and in 1805 the funeral carriage of Horatio, Viscount Nelson. By 1800 Ackermann had built up a unique business at 101 The Strand, London, known as ‘The Repository of Arts’. This encompassed a drawing school with 80 pupils, the sale and loan of Old Master paintings and watercolour drawings, the publication of decorative prints and illustrated books and the manufacture of watercolour paints including a number of new chemical pigments.

In the early 19th century, Ackermann was an important and regular patron of English watercolour painters, employing William Henry Pyne, Augustus Charles Pugin, Thomas Heaphy, Frederick Mackenzie (1787–1854...

Article

(b Holywood, County Down, Ireland, Jan 26, 1922).

Australian painter, printmaker, book designer, lecturer, collector, gallery director and publisher of limited edition artists’ books, of Irish decent. He worked as a draughtsman before entering war service in the British Admiralty from 1940 to 1949, including five years in Colombo, where he made sketching trips to jungle temples with the Buddhist monk and artist Manjsiro Thero. Between 1949 and 1951 Adams worked as an exhibition designer in London and studied wood-engraving with Gertrude Hermes in her evening class at the Central School of Arts and Crafts (now Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design). In 1951, after moving to Melbourne, Adams began a 30-year teaching commitment at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), where he instructed many of the younger generation of Australian printmakers, including George Baldessin and Jan Senbergs. A brief return to Britain and Ireland in 1957–8 provided experience with Dolmen Press, Dublin, which published his first book of engravings, ...

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Linda Whiteley

In 

Article

Elisabeth Landolt

Swiss family of collectors of German origin. Johannes Amerbach (b ?Amorbach, c. 1450; d Basle, Dec 25, 1513) gained his MA at the Sorbonne, Paris, and trained as a printer in Nuremberg and Venice. In 1482 he settled in Basle, where in 1484 he founded his own print shop and publishing house. He was in close contact with Albrecht Dürer during the latter’s stay in Basle (1491–2). Apart from works of art for personal use, for example ornamental daggers, he probably owned graphic and print blocks for woodcut illustrations by Dürer. Johannes’s son, Bonifacius Amerbach (b Basle, 11 Oct 1495; d Basle, 24 April 1562), a lawyer, professor at the University of Basle and syndic of the Basle council, was the heir and executor of Erasmus and owned paintings by the Holbein family and important gold and silver pieces, for example the well-known ‘...

Article

Linda Whiteley

(b Monceaux-sous-Paris, 1790; d 1849).

French dealer, print-publisher and collector, of English descent. His father, William Arrowsmith, was an agent for members of the Orléans family. Through his brother-in-law Louis Daguerre, John Arrowsmith was instrumental in negotiating the installation of the Diorama in Park Square East, Regent’s Park, London, opened in 1823 (see Diorama). In 1822, on one of his frequent visits to London, he saw Constable’s The Haywain (1821; London, N.G.) at the British Institution and shortly after began negotiations to buy it in order to exhibit it in Paris. He purchased it in 1824, along with View on the Stour near Dedham (San Marino, CA, Huntington Lib. & A.G.) and a smaller seascape, and in June 1824 exhibited them at his premises at 1, Rue Grange-aux-Belles, Paris. He sent the two larger landscapes to the Salon of 1824, as well as a view of Hampstead Heath. He was one of a small group of dealers attempting to specialize in the sale of works by living artists, and his contacts with England were particularly useful during the 1820s, when an enthusiasm for English literature and art was widespread among young French artists who were part of the Romantic movement. Between ...

Article

John Christian

(b Leicester, 1797; d Oxford, Oct 29, 1872).

English publisher and patron. He was one of the earliest patrons of the Pre-Raphaelites, and his bequest of their works to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, is notable among collections formed in the 19th century in that it remains largely intact. (Unless otherwise stated, all works mentioned are in the Ashmolean.) In 1838 Combe became Superintendent of the Clarendon Press at Oxford University, a post he held until his death. Under his management, the Press, hitherto run at a loss, became a source of revenue; Combe’s own substantial share in the profitable business of printing Bibles and prayer books enabled him to acquire a considerable personal fortune. He was a genial, hospitable man of strong religious convictions, a friend and ardent supporter of the Tractarians; John Henry Newman officiated at his marriage in 1840. Combe and his wife Martha (1806–93) were active in many forms of charitable work, and Combe, who edited ...

Article

Linda Whiteley

French family of typographers, printers, publishers and collectors. The first to settle in Paris was Denis Didot (2nd half of 17th century), whose son François Didot (1689–1759) founded in 1713 the family publishing business. His sons François-Ambroise Didot (1730–1804) and Pierre-François Didot (1731–93) developed the business, adding a type foundry and a paper-mill. The elegance of their publications brought them the patronage of the brothers of Louis XVI: Monsieur (later Louis XVIII) and the Comte d’Artois (later Charles X). The sons of François-Ambroise included (1) Pierre Didot, a publisher, among whose illustrators were some of the most distinguished artists of the day, and Firmin Didot (1764–1836), who designed the Didot typeface for his brother’s use. Firmin Didot’s son (2) Ambroise Firmin-Didot was a notable collector of prints. The cadet branch of the family, Didot Jeune, the descendants of Pierre-François Didot, included (3) ...

Article

Margaret Kelly

(Stevenson)

(b New York, Aug 19, 1919; d Feb 24, 1990).

American publisher and collector. In his position as Chairman and Editor-in-chief of the fortnightly American business magazine Forbes, he established one of the oldest corporate art collections in America in the 1950s when he began to acquire objets d’art created by Peter Carl Fabergé: the collection contains over 300 pieces, including 12 Imperial Easter eggs. A man of eclectic tastes, and spurred by fond childhood memories, Forbes assembled a collection of 100,000 lead soldiers and over 500 tin clockwork toy boats. The Fabergé works and selected toys are displayed at the Forbes Magazine Galleries in New York with American presidential manuscripts and related historical memorabilia that Forbes believed ‘better depict each [president] than the likenesses that abounded in their time’. Numbering over 3000 pieces, the collection is the finest of its kind in private hands.

The Forbes picture collection, predominantly conservative in flavour, features works by French 19th-century military painters, Victorian artists, Kinetic artists, American Realists and 19th- and 20th-century photographers. Forbes established the ...

Article

Valerie Holman

(b Budapest, April 18, 1898; d New York, March 8, 1955).

Austrian publisher, active in England; he acquired British nationality in 1946. He founded Phaidon Verlag with Ludwig Goldscheider in Vienna in 1923 and initially published bibliophile editions of literature with great attention to good design. This was followed by literary masterpieces and contemporary criticism, and in 1930 the firm began publishing classics of writing on history in large, well-illustrated and inexpensive editions. Historical biographies followed, and among them the first three of the many that Phaidon devoted to great artists: Leben Michaelangelos and Velázquez und sein Jahrhundert (both London, 1933) and Raphael (London, 1941, 2/?1948). In 1933 Phaidon published their first large-format monographs in several different language editions, on Van Gogh (Vienna and London, 1936), the Impressionists (Vienna, 1937) and Botticelli (Vienna, 1937), which established the firm’s reputation for high quality reproduction and an international outlook. On the annexation of Austria in 1938 Sir ...