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date: 14 October 2019

Altman, Benjaminlocked

(b New York, July 12, 1840; d New York, Oct 7, 1913).
  • Lillian B. Miller

Extract

(b New York, July 12, 1840; d New York, Oct 7, 1913).

American merchant and collector. He was the son of Bavarian Jewish immigrants who ran a small dry goods business in New York before the Civil War. About 1863 he entered into a business partnership with his brother; after Morris Altman’s death in 1876, Benjamin re-established the business and quickly developed it into a highly profitable enterprise. Altman’s aesthetic interests extended from European and Oriental decorative arts to Old Master paintings. A self-educated connoisseur, Altman depended a great deal on the advice of dealers such as Duveen, Agnew, Gimpel and Wildenstein, but also developed a fine discrimination as a result of a few short trips to Europe and the accumulation of a valuable art library. As he became more deeply involved in art, he began to devote his entire time to its study. Although never a recluse, he did not participate actively in New York society, never married and insisted on privacy....

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