Berenson, Bernard

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Berenson, Bernard

Bernard Berenson (bĕr´ənsən), 1865–1959, American art critic and connoisseur of Italian art, b. Lithuania, grad. Harvard, 1887. An expert and an arbiter of taste, he selected for art collectors innumerable paintings, many of which are now in museums. A testament to his taste may be seen in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. He was associated for many years with the British art dealer Lord Duveen as chief art adviser. Berenson settled (c.1900) in Settignano, near Florence, Italy, where he built up a fine art collection and library. He was noted as a brilliant conversationalist and wit. His home, I Tatti, became a mecca for European and American intellectuals and was willed to Harvard. Some of Berenson's early publications are still used in the study of art history, though later scholars have criticized many of his judgments. Among his many writings are Venetian Painters of the Renaissance (1894), Lorenzo Lotto (1895), Florentine Painters of the Renaissance (1896), Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance (1897), Drawings of the Florentine Painters (1903), North Italian Painters of the Renaissance (1907), Sketch for a Self-Portrait (1949), Rumor and Reflection (1952), The Passionate Sightseer (1960), Sunset and Twilight … Diaries 1947–1958, ed. by Nicky Mariano (1963), and Italian Pictures of the Renaissance (repr. 1972).

See biographies by S. Sprigge (1960), N. Mariano (1966), M. Secrest (1979), and E. Samuels (2 vol., 1979–87).

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