Bernard Berenson: A Life in the Picture Trade

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Product Details
$26.00  $24.18
Yale University Press
Publish Date
6.34 X 8.48 X 1.1 inches | 1.17 pounds

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About the Author
Rachel Cohen is the author of A Chance Meeting: Intertwined Lives of American Writers and Artists, winner of the PEN/Jerard Fund Award. Her essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Believer, Best American Essays, and many other publications. She teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She keeps a notebook on looking at paintings at http: //

Book of the Week

"[As] Rachel Cohen, the author of this elegantly written biography. . . .nicely puts it, Berenson was 'a person whose capacity for metamorphosis approached that of a moth.'"--Martin Gayford, The Sunday Telegraph--Martin Gayford "The Sunday Telegraph" (12/8/2013 12:00:00 AM)

"Rachel Cohen's unobtrusively and thoroughly well written short volume skilfully negotiates the contradictory sides of Berenson's character - the aesthete and the huckster; the man who lived only for art and the man who very much liked to surround himself with the appurtenances of wealth."--Sam Leith, The Spectator--Sam Leith "The Spectator" (12/14/2013 12:00:00 AM)
"Rachel Cohen has written an admirable short life...[and] a touching portrait"--James Stourton, Literary Review--James Stourton "Literary Review" (12/1/2013 12:00:00 AM)
"Rachel Cohen who has written an extremely thoughtful and readable biography of Berenson"--Charles Saumarez-Smith, Apollo Magazine--Charles Saumarez-Smith "Apollo Magazine" (2/1/2014 12:00:00 AM)
Chosen as a highly recommended book by the Boston Authors Club in 2014.--Honorable Mention "Boston Authors Club" (5/30/2014 12:00:00 AM)

'This book proves to be a remarkably balanced treatment of a profoundly complicated and compelling life.'--Robert Simon, Burlington Magazine

--Robert Simon "Burlington Magazine" (7/1/2014 12:00:00 AM)
Shortlisted for the 2015 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize 2014--Wingate Prize "Jewish Quarterly" (6/3/2015 12:00:00 AM)

"A highly sympathetic and graceful portrait of Bernard Berenson, the art connoisseur and dealer who remade himself into a work of art, priced and priceless, which he protected, cultivated, and even at times bartered: Rachel Cohen's Bernard Berenson is an illuminating tale of this self-transformation, its successes and pitfalls, told with stalwart compassion."--Brenda Wineapple, author of Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877

--Brenda Wineapple

"An insightful, richly detailed account of Bernard Berenson's brilliant transformation from an immigrant Jew and son of a tin peddler into a connoisseur of Italian Renaissance painting and a dealer in secret partnership with Joseph Duveen. With the keen gaze that Berenson brought to a picture, Rachel Cohen analyzes his high-wire act of self-invention against the glittering, aristocratic, anti-Semitic world of art collecting."--Cynthia Saltzman--Cynthia Saltzman

"Cohen draws a psychological portrait of a man guided by passionate aesthetic ideals and tortured by the compromises in the world of commerce that he felt compelled to make. . . . If you live in an American city, there's a good chance that you can go to a museum today and see an exquisite Sienese Madonna, or a Venetian Holy Family, or a Florentine portrait. You have Berenson--and his collector-acolytes--to thank."--Hugh Eakin, Wall Street Journal --Hugh Eakin "Wall Street Journal"
"The most dynamic biography yet of the groundbreaking art historian Bernard Berenson...Cohen investigates Berenson's contradictions, metamorphoses, and dramatically unconventional life with vivacious authority. . . . Cohen deftly channels the sweeping intensity of Berenson's aesthetic ecstasy, hard-won expertise, surprising adventures, and vital legacy."--Booklist, Starred Review-- "Booklist, Starred Review"
"In her remarkable biography, Cohen approaches Berenson's life as a panorama full of artifice and profundity, whose brilliant flashes of color are inextricable from its substrates of shadow. The book leaves an indelible impression, not merely in the way it catalogues Berenson's accomplishments and failings, but also in its dissection of the struggle between desire and alienation that characterizes American art--and life--to this day."--Thomas Micchelli, Bookforum--Thomas Micchelli "Bookforum"
"Berenson's extraordinary and colorful life--from his humble birth in Lithuania, to Harvard and thence to his august and influential position as a critic and art historian, to the renowned splendor of his Florentine villa I Tatti--makes a rich and compelling subject. Ms. Cohen's remarkable book affords the occasion also for rumination upon self-invention and authenticity, upon the making of the man, and of taste, too."--Claire Messud, Wall Street Journal--Claire Messud "Wall Street Journal"
"An absorbing new biography."--Jewish Daily Forward-- "Jewish Daily Forward"
"An irresistibly readable and accessible account of this complicated character, who could be by turns brilliant and petty, generous toward others and scornful of himself, an inveterate philanderer and a staunch husband."--Ann Landl, ARTnews--Ann Landl "ARTnews"