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Isabella Stewart Gardner: A Life

Isabella Stewart Gardner: A Life

"A dazzling new biography of the farsighted, demanding, flamboyant, generous patron and art collector whose vision and taste have so enriched Boston. This is an insightful evocation of both Gardner and the Gilded Age world in which she was a personal friend to such cultural leading lights as Sargent, Henry James, Whistler, Berenson, HD Sleeper, and many others. Long awaited, this study is refreshingly free of the sensationalism of some earlier biographies of Mrs. Gardner. Magnificent and unusual color illustrations add to the book's glories. Aline B. Saarinen wrote of Gardner's museum that 'through it, she still attracts subjects.' The authors themselves curators there, have done its creator proud with this work."

Alan H.

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Author Nathaniel Silver, Diana Seave Greenwald
Publisher Princeton University Press
Publication Date 2022-11-29
Section New Hardcover - Biography / All Staff Suggestions / Nonfiction Suggestions / Alan H.
Type New
Format Hardcover
ISBN 9780691235967

A major new biography of legendary art collector and philanthropist Isabella Stewart Gardner

Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840–1924) assembled an extraordinary collection of art from diverse cultures and eras—and built a Venetian-style palazzo in Boston to share these exquisite treasures with the world. But her life and work remains shrouded in myth. Separating fiction and fact, this book paints an unforgettable portrait of Gardner, drawing on her substantial personal archive and including previously unpublished findings to offer new perspectives on her life and her construction of identity.

Nathaniel Silver and Diana Seave Greenwald shed new light on Gardner's connections to minority communities in Boston, her views on suffrage and other issues of the day, the sources of her and her husband’s wealth, and her ties to politicians, writers, and artists. What emerges is a multifaceted portrait of a trailblazing collector and patron of the arts—from Italian Renaissance paintings to Chinese antiquities—who built a museum unprecedented in its curatorial vision.

Beautifully illustrated, this book challenges any portrayal of Gardner as a straightforward feminist hero, revealing instead an exceptional, complex woman who created a legendary museum and played a vibrant and influential role in the art world.

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