|About the Book|
This is not an absolutely correct title, for I began collecting before I was sixteen and I am now over sixty and I am still collecting, but it will serve. Thus begins Louisine W. Havemeyers memoir, a rare Gilded Age testimonial on forming one of Americas greatest art collections. And it was as a teenager in Paris in 1874 that she met the thirty-year-old artist Mary Cassatt who would lead her to Degass Ballet Rehearsal in a shop window. By the time she was twenty-two she had also acquired works by Pissarro and Monet. She was very probably the first American to collect the work of these three artists. After her marriage to the sugar king, H. O. Havemeyer, they collected Asian art in quantity and Old Master and Barbizon paintings. In the 1890s, they would return to Mrs. Havemeyers initial enthusiasm: modern French painting. They formed major collections of the works of Corot, Courbet, Manet, Degas, and Monet. Mrs. Havemeyer also describes their passion for El Greco and Goya. She relates her encounters with fellow collectors such as Henry Clay Frick, Charles Lang Freer, and Isabella Stewart Gardner- as well as her dealings with art dealers such as Paul Durand-Ruel and Ambroise Vollard. Museums have histories of their own, but how little is known of the making of private collections. And so Mrs. Havemeyer ...jot[ted] down the interesting stories... concerning the purchase of this picture or that object, to relate the rare remarks of the celebrated painters [she] met, to record the curious circumstances attending the purchase of some unusual work of art, to keep for the following generations... valuable information for art collectors. And for all readers interested inconnoisseurship, nineteenth-century art, and the cultural education of America.