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hen Isabella Stewart Gardner agreed to sponsor the career of an aspiring young writer named Bernard Berenson, neither dreamed that together they would build one of this country's most impressive private collections of Italian Renaissance painting. The correspondence between Bernard Berenson :ind Isabella Stewart Gardner, published here for the first time, offers fresh insight into the origins of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and gives voice to an enduring friendship that created and nurtured it. The more than 800 letters included in this volume record the evolving relationship between two singular personalities: a flamboyant socialite known for lively eccentricities and a passionate interest in the arts; and the brilliant Harvard graduate whose unerring eye quickly established-him as a renowned connoisseur and America's leading expert on Italian Renaissance painters. Their correspondence spans nearly four decades and presents a vivid portrait of their passionate interests, their perennial travels, and their liaisons with artists and intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic, including Edith Wharton, Walter Lippmann, Sarah Bernhardt, John Singer Sargent, and George Santayana. Mary Berenson, who abandoned her comfortable and conventional first marriage to become the protegee and, later, the wife and close collaborator of Berenson, becomes a correspondent after 1901. Indeed, Mrs. Gardner's hunch that she now had "two friends instead of one" is borne out in the lively series of letters from Mary, who comes to play an increasingly vital role in her husband's multifaceted achievements. The letters provide a first-hand account of the glamorous international art scene and the increasingly competitive milieu of dealers and collectors. Above all, they detail Berenson's complex association with his powerful patron, who, despite her emphatic protestations of poverty ("I think of



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THE LETTERS OF BERNARD BERENSON AND ISABELLA STEWART GARDNER


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188?-1924 WITH CORRESPONDENCE BY

MARY BERENSON

EDITED AND ANNOTATED BY

ROLLIN VAN N. HADLEY

NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY PRESS BOSTON


Northeastern University Press Š 1987 by Rollin van N. Hadley

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form or by any. means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system now known or to be invented, without written permission from the publisher. Archival material reprinted with permissions from the President and the Fellows of Harvard College, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Trustees, and the Mary Berenson Estate. All paintings are reproduced courtesy of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, except where otherwise noted.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Berenson, Bernard, 1865-1959. The letters of Bernard Berenson and Isabella Stewart Gardner, 1887-1924. Includes index. r. Berenson, Bernard,

865-1959-Correspondence. 2. Art critics-United States-Correspondence. 3. Gardner, Isabella Stewart, l 840-1924-Correspondence. 4. Art patrons-United States-Correspondence. 5. Berenson, Mary, 1864-1945-Correspondence. 6. Art critics' wives-United States-Correspondence. I. Gardner, Isabella Stewart, 1840-1924. II. Berenson, Mary, l 864III . Hadley, Rollin van N . IV Title. N7483.B47A4 1987 709'.2'2 [BJ 86-12554 ISBN 0-9303 50-89-8 (alk. paper) l

Designed by Copenhaver Cumpston Composed in Bembo by Graphic Composition, Athens, Georgia. Display type is Foundry Virtuosa I, designed by Hermann Zapf and handset by Jerry Kelly. Printed and bound by the Halliday Lithograph, Hanover, Massachusetts. The paper is Warren's l 8 54, an acid-free sheet. MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

5 4

3

2

l


Illustrations » vii Acknowledgments »

x1

Chronologies » xiii Introduction » xvii Editorial Note » xxvii PART I

1887-1889 »

PART II

1894-1900 )) 33

PART III

1901-1915 » 239

PART IV

1916-1924 )) 583

Omitted Letters » 669 Directory of Artists » 67 3 Index » 68 l

l


Works of Art Sandro Botticelli's The Tragedy of Lucretia » 5 37 Rembrandt's Seif-portrait » 5 3 8 Thomas Gainsborough's The Blue Boy » 539 Titian's The Rape of Europa » 540 Carlo Crivelli's Saint George and the Dragon » 54 I Correggio's A Girl Taking a Thorn from Her Foot » 542 Raphael's Count Tommaso Inghirami » 543 Peter Paul Rubens's Thomas Howard) Earl of Arundel » 544 Benvenuto Cellini's Bust of Bindo Altoviti » 545 Han Dynasty Bears » 545 Masaccio 's A Young Man in a Scarlet Turban » 546 ..

vu


Hans Holbein the Younger's Sir William Butts » 546 Titian's Juana of Austria » 54 7 Simone Martini's The Madonna and Child with Four Saints » 548 Sandro Botticelli's The Madonna of the Eucharist » 549 Piermatteo d' Amelia's The Annunciation » 55o Raphael's Pietd » 5 5 l Edgar Degas's Madame Gaujelin » 552 Andrea del Castagno's Portrait of a Man » 553 Sir Anthony Van Dyck's Elena Grimaldi) Wife of Marchese Nicola Cattaneo » 5 54 Giovanni Bellini's Saint Francis in Ecstasy » 5 5 5 E:douard Manet's Madame Auguste Manet » 5 56 Giovanni Bellini's The Feast of the Gods » 557

People and Places Bernard Berenson, l 886 » 5 59 Bernard Berenson in Venice, l 897 » 5 59 Anders Zorn's Mrs. Gardner in Venice) 1894 » 560

John Singer Sargent's An Interior in Venice) 1899 » 561

Ralph Curtis, ca. l 890 » 562 Arthur Jeremy Mounteney Jephson » 562 l 52 Beacon Street, ca. 1900 » 563 John L. Gardner at Green Hill, ca. 1890 » 564

Green Hill, Brookline, 1904 » 565

Vlll


Bernard Berenson, his mother, Mary Berenson, and Bessie Berenson, 1901 » 566 Courtyard, Fenway Court, 1915 » 567 Construction, Fenway Court, ca. 1899 » 568 Construction, Fenway Court, ca. 1899 » 569 Elsie de Wolfe, ca. l 890 » 570 Joseph Duveen, 1900 » 571 Morris Carter, l 9 l 9 » 57 l J. Pierpont Morgan, 1902 » 572 Isabella Stewart Gardner, 1906 » 573 Postcard from Altamura, Italy, 1907 » 574 Fenway Court, ca. l 907 » 57 4 Villa I Tatti, Settignano, 1916 » 575 A. Piatt Andrew, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Okakura-Kakuzo, Caroline Sinkler, and Henry Sleeper at Red Roof, Gloucester~ 1910 » 576 John Singer Sargent » 577 Nicky Mariano, Bernard Berenson, Carlo Placci, and Walter Lippmann » 578 Bernard Berenson in his study, Villa I Tatti, ca. 1940 » 579 Dutch Room, Fenway Court » 5So Gothic Room, Fenway Court » 58 l

lX


----~OR THE NUMEROUS references, the editor has sought help from many people and in many places, and with true appreciation wishes to acknowledge all the kindness shown him by the following: Hugh MacAndrew, Mason Hammond, Timothy Husband, Keith Christiansen, Sir John Pope-Hennessy, Iris Origo, D. W Wright, Patricia Curtis Vigano, Joseph Rishel, Fiorella Superbi, Francis M. McNulty, Sydney]. Freedberg, David Alan Brown, Philippe de Montebello, Robert Nikirk, Donald Garstang, Eve Borsook, Peter Sutton, Philip Conisbee, Laurence Kanter, Morton and Robert Vose, James Draper, Mary Comstock, Henry Sears Lodge, Debra Newton Petke, Ruth Berenson, Nathaniel Frothingham, John L. Gardner, Baron Cecil Anrep, Margaret Graubard, Andrew Gray as well as the libraries of the Boston Athenaeum, the Boston and Montreal Museums of Fine Arts, Harvard University, the J. Pierpont Morgan Libfary, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti), and the Newport Historical Society. Several friends were particularly helpful; Everett Fahy, John and Charlotte Gere, and Cornelius Vermeule read the proofs and made a significant contribution; and, Burton Fredericksen and Prof. and Mrs. Ernest Samuels devoted considerable time to finding answers to my questions. To them a special thanks. In the Gardner Museum, I have been ably assisted by Susan Sinclair, archivist, Sylvia Yount, administrative assistant, Karen Haas, assistant curator, and Kristin Mortimer, curator; Ms. Mortimer kindly read the entire manuscript and offered many valuable suggestions. For allowing me to publish the letters, I am indebted to Barbara Strachey, Harvard University and Villa I Tatti, and particularly to that dedicated company of savants, The Gardner Museum Trustees.

Xl


r!Jhionologieo OF ISABELLA STEWART GARDNER AND BERNARD BERENSON

4 Apr. 1840

Birth of Isabella Stewart Gardner (ISG) to David and Adelia (nee Smith) Stewart, Sr., in New York City at University Place.

20

1854-55

ISG attends Miss Okill School in New York City.

1856-end of 1858

ISG, accompanied abroad by her parents, attends a French Protestant finishing school in Paris; travels in Italy with parents.

Feb. 1859

ISG travels to Boston to visit friend Julia Gardner; introduced and engaged to Julia's brother, John.

10 Apr. 1860

ISG marries John L. (Jack) Gardner in Grace Church, New York City; they live -consecutively at his parents' house, the Hotel Boylston, and 126 Beacon Street. ISG and Jack move to I 52 Beacon Street, built by her father. Birth of son, John L. Gardner, Jr. Birth of Mary Pearsall Smith (MB) to Hannah Whithall and Robert Smith, in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

5 Mar. 1865

Death of John L. Gardner, Jr.

26 June 1865

Birth of Bernhard Berenson (BB) to Albert and Judith (nee Mickleshanski) Berenson, in Butrimonys, Vilna Province, Lithuania.

June-Dec. 1867

ISG and Jack travel in Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, Poland, Austria, and France. Xlll


Nov. 1874Sept. 1875

ISG and Jack travel in Egypt, the Holy Land, Greece, and Turkey.

June 1875

Death of Joseph Gardner, older brother of John L. Gardner; Gardners assume care of Joseph Gardner's three orphaned sons.

Summer 1875

BB arrives in Boston.

1878

ISG attends a course of lectures by Charles Eliot Norton at Harvard University.

May-Oct. 1879

ISG and Jack travel in England and France with nephews; with Henry James and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Adams meet James McNeill Whistler in London.

1880

House at l 50 Beacon Street purchased and joined to Beacon Street.

1881

BB attends Boston Latin School.

1882

BB attends Myers-Richardson School.

1883

BB attends Boston University.

May 1883

ISG and Jack embark for travel in Japan, China, Cambodia, Thailand, Java, India, and Egypt, arriving in Venice 16 May 1884.

25 Sept. 1883

Death of Mrs. John L. Gardner, Sr., and 26 July l 884 death of John L. Gardner, Sr. ISG and Jack inherit Green Hill estate (Brookline, Mass.).

l

52

BB enters Harvard as a freshman. MB transfers from Smith College to the Harvard Annex (Radcliffe College). 1885

MB marries Frank Costelloe at Oxford.

1886

BB introduced to ISG, most probably after one of Charles Eliot Norton's lectures in the fall.

July-Nov.

ISG and Jack travel in England, France, Germany, Austria, and Italy; ISG introduced to John Singer Sargent by Henry James.

1886

BB graduates from Harvard with a bachelor of arts degree and receives a $700 gift from friends, including ISG, for a year abroad.

Mar. 1887Sept. 1888

XIV

ISG and Jack travel in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Germany (Bayreuth), and England; in Venice, l 8 June19 July.


1888

BB meets MB in England.

1889

BB settles in Florence.

May-Oct. 1890

ISG and Jack travel in England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, and Italy; at Palazzo Barbaro, Venice, in August.

Apr. 1892- , Jan. 1893

ISG and Jack travel in France, England, Italy, and Germany (Bayreuth); at Palazzo Barbaro, 4June-3 August.

1894

Publication of BB's The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance, a copy of which is sent to ISG to renew her goodwill towards its author; BB also arranges ISG's purchase of Botticelli's Tragedy of Lucretia.

June 1894July 1895

ISG and Jack travel in France, England, Italy, and Germany; at Palazzo Barbaro, 5 September-7 November.

Feb. 1896

With purchase of Rembrandt's Self-Portrait, ISG and Jack decide to build a museum.

Summer 1897Jan. 1898

ISG and Jack travel in France, Italy, and Germany; at Palazzo Barbaro in July.

10 Dec. 1898

Death of Jack Gardner.

31Jan. 1898

Museum land purchased in the Fenway; subsequent purchases made in April and July 1899 and February 1900.

June 1899

Construction of Fenway Court begins.

July-28 Dec. 1899

ISG travels in Italy, France, and England collecting architectural elements and artifacts for the museum.

1900

BB leases I Tatti, a villa in Settignano, near Florence, and marries MB 29 December.

19 Dec. 1900

Certificate of incorporation of collection, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in the Fenway, Inc.

1Jan. 1903

Gala opening of Fenway Court (150 invitations); public opening, 23 February 1903.

17-26 Oct. 1903

Berensons visit Fenway Court.

1906

ISG travels in France, Spain, Italy, and England; stays with Berensons at I Tatti. BB begins association with Joseph Duveen, and buys I Tatti. xv


Oct.-Nov. 1908

Berensons in Boston.

Mar. 1909

Berensons in Boston; Mary lectures on 7 and l 4 March at Fenway Court.

12 Dec. 1913Jan. 1914

Berensons in Boston.

Feb. 1914

ISG begins alterations to Fenway Court.

1919

ISG sells Green Hill, Brookline residence, to grandnephew, George P. Gardner, Jr.

26 Dec. 1919

ISG suffers stroke.

23 Dec. 192011 Jan. 1921

Berensons in Boston.

Mar. 1921

Berensons in Boston.

1921

Last acquisition for ISG on BB 's recommendation: Bellini's Madonna and Child.

17 July 1924

Death of ISG; her will, dated 9 May 1921, with a codicil dated 17 January 1924, probated 21 August 1924.

21 July 1924

ISG's funeral, Church of the Advent, Boston; burial at Mount Auburn Cemetery, beside husband and son.

13 Feb. 1925

Museum reopens, with Morris Carter as director.

1938

BB ends association with Duveen.

23 Mar. 1945

Death of MB, Settignano.

6 Oct. 1959

Death of BB, Settignano.

XVI


c!Jntioduction

~E

reading the correspondence between Bernard Berenson and Isabella Stewart Gardner is to be drawn into that remarkable world, fresh with their ambitions and the simple, unaffected way they pursued them. There is a fascination in their travels and society and the building of great collections and, at the core of these letters, the effect that Bernard Berenson 1 and Isabella Stewart Gardner exerted on each other and the candor that their friendship encouraged. So much about them has appeared in print that it is refreshing to read their own words, written to each other during the most important years of their lives. Certainly Berenson and Mrs. Gardner (and later Mary Berenson) emerge as strong individuals whose differences appear greater than their affinities. Yet they developed an enduring friendship and much common ground, though they often viewed life from opposite points of view. Mrs. Gardner filled her townhouses with eclectic fervor and, not content with that, created an Italian palace for what was in 1900 the finest private collection in America. Berenson set out to become the best connoisseur of Italian paintings in the world, and for his generation he certainly was. The fruits of his labor may be seen in his art collection and especially in the extensive art reference library of books and photographs collected over a period of seventy years and bequeathed to Harvard University (now the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies). Berenson's and Mrs. Gardner's ambitions were frequently misconstrued by conventional society, and less determined people would have been frustrated in attempting what they did. By pursuing their independent ways, they incurred resentment and grief, but in the end they savored success and, I.

PLEASURE IN

Until the First World War, Berenson spelled his first name Bernhard.

.. XVll


if one can judge, died more or less content. Villa I Tatti and the Gardner Museum are their monuments; to a great extent they are the tangible results of this friendship. Mrs. Gardner is an impetuous correspondent and her letters are often highly emotional. Her mind flits from place to place and conveys a sense of hurried energy. By contrast, Berenson, a habitual scribbler who complained to the end that he was not an accomplished writer, is frequently eloquent, at times funny, and usually quite frank. His letters seldom disappoint. At the moment Berenson reaches a position of understanding with Mrs. Gardner, Mary Berenson enters the correspondence. As one who did consider herself an accomplished writer, she is graceful and witty but too often deferential and self-serving. Isabella Stewart came from the comfortable world of New York townhouses, private education, and summers on Long Island. When she was seventeen her parents took her to Paris, where she met Julia and Eliza Gardner. The senior Gardners got on well with Isabella's parents, and on her return to New York Isabella accepted an invitation to. visit Boston. A few days before her twentieth birthday she married Julia's brother Jack, who was already at work in his family's business. The Gardners began in Salem and prospered in the China trade, moved the firm to Boston in I 820, and by the I 8 50s had invested in railroads, mines, and mills. Isabella's father, David, was also a successful businessman, a secondgeneration American of Scottish parents. As a wedding present he gave the young couple a townhouse at I 52 Beacon Street, on recently filled land known as the Back Bay. There a son was born in I 862. His early death was a tremendous shock to Mrs. Gardner, and when she later had a miscarriage and was told that another child was not possible, she was overcome with a terrible depression. Eventually her doctors recommended travel; so successful was this advice that the Gardners traveled regularly until Jack Gardner's death in I 898. The results of these voyages could be seen in the furnishings of I 52 Beacon Street. Mrs. Gardner became known for her parties, her Paris gowns, and an intellectual, perhaps unusual, guest list. She had a sense of drama, whether at a dance, at a sporting event, at home, or abroad, and the company of handsome men was essential to her way of life. She inspired and fostered many artists, and in one instance lost her heart encouraging the young and attractive Italian-born novelist F. Marion Crawford. By 1875 an anonymous newspaper reporter in Boston felt compelled to write: Mrs. Jack Gardner is one of the seven wonders of Boston. There is nobody like her in any city in this country. She is a millionaire Bohemienne. She is eccentric, and she has the courage of eccentricity. She is the leader of the smart set, but she often leads where none dare follow. She is 35, plain and wide-mouthed , but has the handsomest neck, shoulders and arms in all Boston. She imitates nobody; everything she does is novel and original. She is as brilliant as her own XVlll


diamonds, and is as attractive. All Boston is divided into two parts, of which one follows science, and the other Mrs. Jack Gardner.

In l 880 the Gardners bought the townhouse next door so that Isabella could have a proper music room. The houses had a French air about them and were filled with French pictures of a generation earlier-Corot, Delacroix, Diaz, Jacque, and Courbet. The furnishings included stained glass, textiles, and furniture bought on her trips, photographs of famous people she had met, and photograph albums of buildings and paintings she liked. She was not yet a collector, but she was drawn to the intellectual life of Cambridge and Boston. Charles Eliot Norton, the first university professor of fine arts, may have had the most influence on her future. Mrs. Gardner attended his lectures in l 878 and was invited to join the Dante Circle, which met at his house. With his encouragement, she began collecting rare books and manuscripts. After attending lectures on the Orient in the spring of 1883, Mrs. Gardner decided, typically, to see it for herself. The Gardners left in June for Japan, China, India, and Cambodia (Angkor Wat!), and they continued through the Near East, arriving in Venice in May 1884. Venice revived her youthful enthusiasm for Italy and until Jack's death was almost as important to her as Boston. Thereafter every trip to Europe included a period of residence in Venice. Through her patronage of Boston artists, Mrs. Gardner had already begun a collection of contemporary paintings. With Henry James 2 she met Whistler in l 879 and, in a subsequent meeting, she commissioned a small portrait. James introduced her to Sargent in l 887 and a second, much larger commission was arranged. Mrs. Gardner's father died in l 89 l and left her one and three-quarter million dollars. When she and Jack returned from Venice the next year, included among jewels and gowns were five old masters, two Whistlers, and a Rossetti. The Concert by Vermeer, bought at an auction in Paris for ~ix thousand dollars, was her single greatest triumph, proving to路 her that she could rely on her own judgment with works of art. On her next trip abroad, in l 894, she had the advice of Berenson, and thereafter paintings came with increasing regularity. Occasionally she bought for herself or accepted the advice of others, but in the next ten years, fifty old masters were bought on Berenson's recommendation. In later life Mrs. Gardner claimed that the cornerstone of her museum was the Rembrandt Self Portrait purchased in February l 896. With that picture the Gardners decided to build a museum of their own, and it was Jack Gardner who chose the site. His death in December l 898 was a blow to 2.

How the Gardners knew Henry James has not been determined. Mrs. Gardner could have met him as a child growing up in New York; they also knew his brother, Professor William James, in Cambridge. XlX


Mrs. Gardner; realizing her own advancing years, she began immediately on the building that became Fenway Court. She wanted the pleasure of doing her own designing and installing, which she did by appearing on the construction site every day and by rearranging the collection over the next twenty years. Two stone plaques were placed over the front door, one with a phoenix and the motto C'est Mon Plaisir, the other inscribed THE ISABELLA STEW ART GARDNER MUSEUM IN THE FENWAY MDCCCC. The latter was covered up until she died, but it served notice to the world of her purpose and gave the date that the collection was incorporated. She never wavered in her decision that the museum "was for the education and enjoyment of the public forever," but as long as she was director it would be, as the motto stated, at her pleasure. Because of the attention she lavished on it, it remains today the most personal of all personal museums. Mrs. Gardner reduced her standard of living in order to leave an endowment for the museum and wrote a will protecting it from change, because it embodied all her theories of what a museum should be. Naturally, she was criticized for creating a mausoleum, for not pursuing the great artists of her age, for hanging pictures done by her friends, and, worst of all, for excluding the addition of modern works of art. Mrs. Gardner knew that the .public would accept the museum on her terms and by all accounts the public has. From Mrs. Gardner, Berenson learned something of how to manipulate society and to be accepted without being confined. Early on he admired her and wished to be admitted to her circle of friends (some, such as Ralph Curtis, became his close friends; others, such as Richard Norton, turned against him). From the depressing immigrant's life in Boston's North End he had escaped at an early age to the Boston Public Library and long walks in the countryside around Boston. His education included the study of languages and religion in his native Lithuania, the classical curriculum of the Boston Latin School, the liberal arts at Harvard College, and a great deal of reading on his own. 3 At Harvard he knew George Santayana and Charles Loeser, who were also the children of immigrants and whom he would meet again in Europe. Even though their families were better off than Berenson's, they were all part of a group becoming assimilated into that still small band of educated men. Through the influence of Phillips Brooks, whom he had heard at compulsory chapel at Harvard, Berenson joined the Episcopal Church and hoped thereby to draw closer to the establishment. A second religious conversion occurred within five years at the monastery of Monte Oliveto near Siena, where, through the influence of the abbot, he became a Roman Ca th3. Most facts of Berenson's life have been taken from E. Samuels, Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur (Cambridge, Mass., 1979), and Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Legend, (Cambridge, Mass., 1987).

xx


olic. His affection for Italy and his commitment to its art, no less than a search for conviction, made conversion seem a natural step. In time he found all religion oppressive, but he and Mary were buried in the Catholic chapel at I Tatti. Two themes run through Berenson's letters and appear later in his Sketch for a Self Portrait. One is his delight in nature, which he treats as another form of art essential to his happiness. It is one of many pleasures that he and Mrs. Gardner enjoyed together. The other, a source of disquiet, is his rootlessness: the dilemma of having left his family and a homesickness for New England, although he admitted that he never had close friends in Boston like those he made at Oxford. When he crossed the Alps he found a certain peace in Italy, "where lives could not be but beautiful." In the end Villa I Tatti was the closest thing to a homeland. The first sixteen letters between Berenson and Mrs. Gardner contain the seeds of his slow transition from aspiring writer to connoisseur. Berenson claimed later to have been the first person to have made such a career, because for predecessors such as Cavalcaselle and Morelli, connoisseurship was purely an avocation. In a flash in l 890, he decided on his lifelong quest: the identification and location of all the surviving pictures by Italian Renaissance painters. Although he was among the first to collect photographs seriously as a means of comparing works of art, this did not replace studying the originals, which meant constant travel to every possible location in every country that boasted a collection of Italian paintings-not just museums, but churches, public buildings, private collections, and dealers' stocks. It was no small feat for someone living on limited resources. Together with Mary he wrote- The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance, a copy of which he sent Mrs. Gardner in l 894. Within a year he had published a treatise on the painter Lorenzo Lotto. The Venetian Painters was revised in l 896 and l 897 and in time volumes on the Florentine ( l 896), Central Italian ( l 897) and North Italian painters ( l 907) appeared. Mary edited his prose, but his identification of painters and paintings brought him more fame than his essays. The Berenson lists of attributions, enlarged and refined throughout his lifetime, continue to be standard reference works today (the final edition of The Venetian Painters came out in 1957, that of The Florentine Painters in l 96 3, and that of The North Italian and Central Italian Painters in 1968). In London in 1888 Berenson had met Mary Pearsall Smith, an American married to a barrister, Frank Costelloe. She deserted her husband and children in l 893 to become Berenson's understudy and took up residence in Florence in an apartment next to his. Brought up in a religious family, she had studied at Smith and Radcliffe before marrying at the age of twentyone. She traveled with Berenson ostensibly to learn about Italian art, staying on to become his protege. In fact they were lovers and collaborators. Mary's name first appears in Berenson's letters in l 897 and at the moXXl


ment of their engagement. in l 900 (Frank had died in l 899), but to anyone visiting Florence she was very much in evidence. It seems that Mrs. Gardner did not meet her during these years and was first told about her when Berenson was her guest at the Palazzo Barbaro in Venice in l 897. Their relationship was complex and, if one is to believe everything Mary wrote, marked by a downhill slide almost from the moment of their wedding in 1900 until the arrival of Nicky Mariano in 1919. Despite his youthful interest in women (a brief undergraduate correspondence with a Smith girl was bought by the archives at I Tatti), Berenson was naive, puritanical, and largely inexperienced when he met Mary. Her affairs during the years before they were married and his flirtations and affairs afterward were no secret between them. The gulf that separated them had on one side Mary's expectations of becoming an equal connoisseur and partner and on the other a relationship of master and pupil, or writer and editor (begun with her first husband), that continued at I Tatti to the point where Mary ran the household, the accounts, and the library so that Berenson could pursue his research and writing. As Berenson's depressions receded, Mary's ailments intruded on their life together, and she was forced to relinquish (albeit willingly) more and more of her responsibility. Nicky Mariano's arrival at I Tatti proved an immediate success with both of them, and eventually Nicky performed all of Mary's duties, serving until Berenson's death. Mrs. Gardner's friendship and the stir caused by Fenway Court became increasingly important to Berenson when he found that his opinions brought him into conflict with an assortment of dealers, collectors, and other connoisseurs. His position and his authority-essential to his finances-brought bitter arguments with Loeser, by then a collector also living in Florence, with Vernon Lee, the author whom Berenson accused of stealing his ideas, and with Langton Douglas, who attacked him in the Burlington Magazine. According to Edward Fowles in his Memories of Duvee11 Brothers (London, 1976, p. 130): "BB lived in perpetual fear of discredit: his livelihood depended upon the maintenance of a delicate balance between his roles of critic and connoisseur of repute, and that of profitable intermediary."-+ Many animosities took years to forget. Perhaps it is in the nature of the art world, and perhaps it is inherent in the expatriate attitude. For whatever reason, Berenson very soon found himself with enemies. Mrs. Gardner, however, never wavered in her support after their meeting in l 894. "She lives at a rate and intensity, and with a reality that makes other lives seem pale, thin and shadowy," he wrote Mary after staying with Mrs. Gardner in Venice in l 897. "She seems really fond of n1e, of me, not of my petty repute, not the books I have published, and that is charming." 5 4. According to his Diary of an Art Dealer (New York, 1966, p. 220), Rene Gimpel, although an outspoken critic of BB 's, nevertheless sought his opinion: "I assured [Miss Frick] that Berenson and Friedlander wouldn't compromise their reputation to please Joe (Duveen ]. " 5. Archives at I Tatti, letter of September 1897 . ..

XXll


After the Berensons' visit to Fenway Court in 1904, Berenson and Mrs . Gardner reached an understanding, and he knew he could count on her friendship; the culmination came a decade later when, according to Mary's letter to her mother (10 January 1914), they were in Boston with her. "B.B. said to her the last day that although he had found her fascinating and wonderful before, he had never loved her until this time, for she had never been lovable. She wept at this, and said it was true, and perhaps she would have gone to her grave with her hard heart and selfish character if it had not been for ... Okakura . . . . At last we really care for her as a human being." 6 When the Berensons returned to America in 1903, it was to assess Mrs . Gardner's future as a collector and to find others to advise. In 1907 Berenson became the adviser for Duveen, and, although he borrowed money to buy and renovate I Tatti in 1908, he eventually made enough to live on capital and royalties. In 1909 he wrote Mrs. Gardner that he no longer needed to accept commissions from her. Berenson's joking references to Mrs. Gardner after her death as "Boston's pre-cinema star" and "the serpent of the Charles" reflected his memories of her difficult side. He told Kenneth Clark that selling pictures to her was like pulling teeth, 7 and this is borne out in the letters. Certainly both the director of the Gardner Museum and the cataloguer of its collection were, soon after her death, unfriendly to him, and that may have made him less anxious to discuss Mrs. Gardner with anyone. 8 When Mrs. Gardner decided in l 894 to become a collector of old masters and to make Berenson her agent, they were both to an extent babes in the woods. To their good fortune, Berenson relied heavily on the resources of the London dealers P. & D. Colnaghi and Co., because of his friendship with and admiration for the director, Otto Gutekunst, who had a much wider knowledge of paintings than Berenson did. Gutekunst warned Berenson about the Forli "Titian" (see letter of 4 February l 896) but Berenson, it seems, could not go back on his stated opinion in the face of Mrs. Gardner's determination to have it. It was his single biggest mistake, but, as in the case of other attributions that have been changed over the years, it was a picture of the period. Berenson never sold her a modern painting as the work of an old master, and he was successful in a number of cases in finding truly great pictures for a relatively modest investment. It is not surprising that both Gutekunst and Berenson were wrong in 6. B. Strachey and]. Samuels, Mary Berenson: A Self Portrait from Her Diaries and Letters (New York, 1984), p. 194路 Okakura Kakuzo, Japanese scholar, writer, and aesthete, joined the staff of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1904. 7. Letter from Kenneth C lark to the editor. 8. Berenson had written the catalogue for the John G. Johnson Collection in Philadelphia and seemed the obvious choice to write the Gardner Museum's catalogue. Unfortunately, he had slighted Morris Carter at their meeting in 1920, and the new director was determined to find his own man. Carter chose Philip Hendy, then at the Wallace Collection, for which he had written the catalogue, and he too in time thought of Berenson as an ingrate. XXlll


their attributions for certain paintings now considered to be from the artists' studios; in a number of other cases their original attributions have weathered the storms of criticism and are now generally accepted. Although he could not bring himself to admit to Mrs. Gardner that he had made a mistake with either the Forll Titian or the Correggio, Berenson did not include them in his published lists. Throughout his long life, Berenson revised his attributions, but there is no evidence that he changed his opinions in order to please a client or dealer. His success and influence as a connoisseur have been clearly defined in the catalogue that accompanied the 1979 exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. 9 Certainly he was in large part responsible for the interest that continues today in the study of Italian Renaissance masters and in the significant collections of their paintings in this country. The Gardner Museum's Titian, the Frick Collection's Bellini, and the National Gallery of Art's Feast of the Gods by Titian and Bellini have been called the greatest paintings in America. Berenson recommended all three to Mrs. Gardner, but she could afford only one. Berenson began piecing together a series of statements about his life and thoughts in 1941 and continued it during the war years, when he and Nicky were forced to go into hiding. Entitled Sketch for a Self-Portrait (1949), it was not so much an autobiography as a self-analysis. When published, it announced his return to the living world. "No single figure in the world of art has contributed more to the taste and understanding of Italian painting than Bernard Berenson,'' wrote Francis Henry Taylor, "and none has more gracefully disavowed the pedants and pundits who have boiled and frothed in his wake." 10 Taylor, the great director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, went so far as to call Berenson "perhaps the best read man of his day. . . . [He] embarked in early youth upon the career of professional sage; miraculously [he] achieved true sagacity in the process." Much to his amusement and delight, Berenson found himself the figure that in his youth he had aspired to become. Many of the feelings expressed in the correspondence are also in Sketch for a Self-Portrait: his attitude towards his enemies, his difficulty in finding congenial conversation, his preferences for talking to women and for the company of women ("colleagues seldom draw each other out"), his New England puritanical conscience piled on his Hebraic one, his fears that his generosity was selfish, his constant fear of laziness (writing was toil), and his love of conversation and hope that, with more leisure, the future would produce better conversationalists. Of greater weight are chapters on his chosen profession, in which he was the first to dedicate an entire lifetime. Being an expert brought material advantages, such as his library, which 9. The National Gallery of Art, Berenson and the Connoisseurship of Italian Painting (Washington, D.C., 1979)ro. Saturday Review of Literature, 18 June 1949, p . 16. XXlV


fro1n very early in his career he planned to pass on to scholars, but it also led to terrible demands and accusations, including the absurd idea that he should have been concerned with modern art and donated his energies to contemporary artists. He readily admitted that he ought not to have devoted so 1nuch time to becoming a Monsieur (according to Berenson, the French term refers to breeding and standing, unlike the English Gentleman, which implies birth) and that he never got over his lack of belonging. The latter no doubt influenced the former. He summed it up late in life with the sentence, "I wanted to become and be a work of art myself, and not an artist." 11 Like many romantic figures, Berenson wrote his best work and made his real contribution by the age of forty, making some expansions and revisions in the next ten years. At sixty-five he was ready to end his association with Duveen, had not the stock-market crash of r 929 cut severely into his income and forced him to continue to work for several more years. Berenson's most poignant confession was his sense of spiritual loss in abandoning intellectual pursuits. He looked back with regret to his youth, when he decided to write his greatest art historical book, The Drawings of the Florentine Painters of the Renaissance (begun in r 898, published in r 903), instead of writing essays on literature, music, sculpture, and other works of art, similar to his essays on Renaissance painting: making "his notions into theories" and writing aesthetic philosophy. In truth, he could not then have afforded to become a philosopher, and perhaps he lacked ability as well as money, since none of his writing on theory has amounted to much. In comparison with this persistent delight [in visual arts], his enjoyment of the other arts was comparatively flat . . . . His literary comments were often commonplace and his references to poetry (in his last years) almost entirely confined to Shakespeare, Goethe, and the nineteenth-century English poets. As for music, he himself wrote that though he often listened to it ... he honestly doubted "whether my ear is very good." 12

In any case he soon became too involved in society and had become too much in demand to pursue a life of pure contemplation. Although no one today would lavish praise on Berenson's journals, including Sketch for a Self-Portrait) they were the result of an early habit, begun in college, of writing essays on a regular basis. Even in his last路 decade, life at I Tatti always meant writing in the morning before a large, social lunch, a nap, a walk in the woods with a few friends, and more conversation at tea, over dinner, and on into the night. In the end Berenson was the person who brought connoisseurship from the dark ages into modern times. Most who admired him and enjoyed his l l.

12.

I. Origo, Introduction to Sunset and Twilight (New York, 1963), p . xxi. I. Origo, Introduction to Sunset and Twilight, p. xiii.

xxv


company acknowledged this fact but also sought him out for his conversation on every other topic. In middle age he attempted to turn his back on being an expert, and young men who were given the use of his library seldom found him of any help in their work. In the conversational tennis that he loved and in the diaries that he constantly wrote, there was nothing of profound seriousness. And meanwhile the myth was taking shape: of Berenson's brilliant talk-witty, merciless, exhibitionist, but always "life-enhancing"-of his encyclopaedic memory for all that he had ever read in seven languages-of his exquisitely cut pale grey suits and the dark red carnation in his buttonhole-of his indulgence with the young, his ruthlessness with his equals-of his love affairs, his travels, his fabulous art collection-of summer nights in his jasmine-scented garden. 13

In old age he did not capitalize on his legend or seek more from life, being content to enjoy what the world offered in the same casual spirit that one sees in his letters of a half-century earlier. Edith Wharton, Walter Lippmann, and Learned Hand were among those who delighted in his conversation and found him a warm friend. Berenson once said that Jesus and Buddha never wrote, only talked, as though that were his favorite dream: to pass his days without writing, in brilliant conversation. In a letter of 18 October 1914, considering what he would do during the war and the possibility of returning to Boston, Berenson wrote: "The world consists of one's personal friends, one's thoughts and one's dreams, and one can manage to live anywhere with these three." But this was wishful thinking. Place was as important to him as it was to Mrs. Gardner, who wrote in a letter shortly before she died, "There's no getting away from ityou are one of Florence's sights. I've nothing to tell except that I've had two fascinating Halloween cards sent to me because I am one of the sights of Fenway Court." Conscious of their notoriety but taking it with humor, both played the role of les grandes seigneurs in their "ancient" chateaux and loved what they had brought into being. r 3. I. Ori go, Introduction to Sunset and Twilight, p. xi.

XXVl


~ditoiial JVote

~ERNARD

letters in the Gardner Museum have been used by two biographers of Mrs. Gardner: Morris Carter, for Isabella Stewart Gardner and Fenway Court (Boston, 1925), and Louise Hall Tharp, for Mrs. Jack (Boston, 1965). Mrs. Gardner's letters at Villa I Tatti were transcribed shortly after they came to light in 1965 and were made available together with the originals to Ernest Samuels, the authorized biographer of Berenson. The two volumes of his biography are Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur (Cambridge, Mass., 1979) and Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Legend (Cambridge, Mass., 1987). Two articles by Rollin van N. Hadley and Frances Preston on the correspondence appeared in Fenway Court, the museum's annual report, in 1972 and 1974路 Both sets of typed letters have been read against the originals for this volume. The letters are presented in chronological order as far as can be determined. Not all the letters have survived; Mrs. Gardner's letters from l 887 to l 8 89 and for most of l 894 are missing, as are some from other periods, particularly when the Berensons were traveling. A direct reference to a missing letter is footnoted. Proper names follow current usage (Shakespeare and Tolstoy, for example). Corrections have also been made to other obvious errors in spelling to avoid the use of [sic]. British spelling has been retained (favour for favor). Errors or omissions in punctuation have been standardized when it seemed necessary to the understanding or natural flow of the sentence. In her staccato style, Mrs. Gardner often used dashes for periods; these have been changed at the ends of sentences. Ampersands and plus signs have been written out as and. Capitalization, inconsistent in the original letters, has been changed in many cases. Italics have been used in almost all cases for the proper titles of books, works of art, names of ships, and musical comBERENSON's

.. XXVll


positions. Almost all foreign words have been italicized and left without comment or translation. Editorial insertions to the text are bracketed. These include: [illegible] when the script could not be deciphered; [?] when the word as deciphered made no sense in the sentence; and, very rarely, the inclusion of a first or last name or other word to assist the reader. Letters included in the volume are presented in their entirety. Fewer than ro percent, deemed repetitious or adding nothing to the reader's knowledge, have been deleted. A list of omitted letters appears at the end of this book. In addition to a general index there is a directory of artists mentioned with name, dates, and school. The endnotes use initials for the correspondence: ISG, BB, and MB. An effort has been made to identify persons mentioned in the text with their dates, although some have proved too elusive and others too familiar to require annotation. The date line with address has been shortened.

XXVlll


I

1887-1889 id

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iii

'~1n路'

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between Isabella Stewart Gardner and Bernard Berenson has not been recorded. There is every reason to believe that they were introduced by Mrs. Gardner's good friend Professor Charles Eliot Norton while Berenson was a student in his class in r 886. That Berenson was entertained by Mrs. Gardner at Green Hill, her Brookline estate, may be assumed from a reference in one of his letters; that he also went to the two adjoining townhouses on Beacon Street in Boston seems very likely in view of their friendship at the time of his departure for Europe. Visiting Mrs. Gardner offered a taste of what it was like to live surrounded by works of art and to stroll in Italianate gardens. Before long Berenson would see many, far more impressive houses and, in his own way, emulate them at Villa I Tatti. Mrs. Gardner's style did not follow the usual pattern in Boston, and it surely impressed the young Berenson. Here was someone who had traveled around the world and had seen the Orient, Europe, and the Near East with a discerning eye. Everywhere objects recalled her travels: textiles and stained glass, furniture and paintings. Her photograph albums included her favorite buildings and works of art. The effect of all this and the warmth of his hostess's welcome may be surmised from his letters during his odyssey in Europe. Prepared as he was for what he was about to see, yet unused to travel and to the Old World, Berenson wrote to Mrs. Gardner with remarkable candor. She had a way of inspiring men to confide in her and Berenson became one of those who did. It is also fair to guess that Mrs. Gardner and Berenson were immediately drawn to each other. Among her friends in Boston were a number of professors who had taken an interest in him, sensing his intellectual promise. Berenson was a precocious student. He pursued ancient and modern Ianb H E FIRST MEETING

3


guages at Harvard and was swept into the circle of writers who marked that generation. Many of them appeared in the Monthly, and when he became its editor in chief, Berenson was able to get Thomas Sargent Perry, a onetime Harvard instructor who had moved on to the Boston literary scene, to contribute to it. That stroke of good fortune held a future reward when Perry raised the money for Berenson's trip to Europe, necessary after a traveling scholarship that Berenson had assumed would be his at graduation went to another student. Edward Perry Warren, from a Boston family of paper mill owners, who had met Berenson when Berenson was a freshman at Boston University and who had convinced him to transfer to Harvard, added to the purse, as did Berenson's professor, Ferdinand Bocher. The largest sum came from his friend Isabella Stewart Gardner. The purse was for seven hundred dollars and was to last a year. During the spring term of his last year at Harvard, Berenson sent Mrs. Gardner a few of his undergraduate articles with an accompanying letter (undated) asking that they be returned. On the day after graduation h.e left for New York to sail on the steamship Grand Bretagne. Before leaving he wrote these prophetic words to Mrs. Gardner: "I want more plastic, less subjective things." It was assumed then that Berenson would pursue a literary career and that the year of travel was necessary to round out his education. Warren gave him lodgings at Oxford, and other friends from Boston including Perry crossed his path during his travels. With a little extra money from home and friends, one year was stretched into two before he settled in Florence, the town that would remain his home. Berenson was by then, whether he knew it, adjusting his life to that of a connoisseur. Of his meeting with Mrs. Gardner during the summer of 1888 at Bayreuth nothing is known, and not long after that Berenson received financial help from Ned Warren, enough to allow him to follow his inclinations and stay on. In the last letter of this section his unhappiness at the prospect of returning and "making the best of it" and the "nightmare thoughts" of what that meant must have seemed a strange form of appreciation to his Boston benefactors. On that note the correspondence was interrupted until Berenson's first letter of r 894.

4


Dear Mrs. Gardner, This last, last note to you. Many thanks for your most encouraging words. I want more plastic, less subjective things. Sincerely Yours, Bernhard Berenson June 17th, 3.30

P.M.

[1887]

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

54 rue de Vaugirard, Paris August 24th, r 887

I wonder whether you have already received a book that I mailed to you about a week ago. 1 I wish you to read the introductory essay, especially, written by a person born not many miles from my natal home. And the analysis he gives of the Lithuanian character I found true of myself in so many different ways that it seemed to me like a confession written by myself. Then Bartek is so true and touching a story. You will ~ike it I know. I have been here since the day of my landing. For several weeks-was it exhaustion because of the very crowded life I had been living; was it mere topsy-turviness , resulting from being plunged so suddenly into the most horrible of solitudes, a great city where you do not know one friendly soul; whatever it was-for a few weeks, I barely lived. I kept to my room, slept a good deal, and some times I did not sleep at all, but analyzed a fever and ague that were playing at hide and seek within me. Then about three weeks ago began the delightful weather, and since then I have been as happy as I can be away from Boston. I have busied myself with seeing, and reading. But travel as travel I detest. For that very reason perhaps, like the very famous Dr. Quies, 2 I shall travel a good deal. I do not like gypsying; and worse, I find I am moved not at all by what is the cause of so much travel, the historic sentiment. The fact that something happened in a certain place does not make that place in the least interesting to me, unless it have some purely aesthetic merit with it. I should have travelled in my fifteenth year, or even earlier, when the world was all a spectacle and the past a glorious romance. Now-I may be fresh, innocent, inexperienced, but somehow I have anticipated everything , and what is left, but an immortal-no, happily, it will die with me-ennui. Has it ever occurred to you that some people have no right to live becaus e somebody else has anticipated in every particle the life they live? I seem to myself one who has been so anticipated , so that I see no reason for m y exis ten ce. A ll I have th ou ght has been though t before. My m ental mech anism, my nervous system conjoined with it , all that I am now, has existed already in others-more than enough- and has inflicted itself u pon the world already more than once. I felt that so dreadfully as I was reading the first part of Tolstoy's Ma Confession. 3 What shall I do? What is there for me to do? For others there is living as such. What are they if thousands like them have lived? They are sure of it, and all the happier for that. But as for 5


me, I feel that I have no right to live but for what I shall write; and that whatever I may write it will always be about myself; and that personalities like my own-granting they be interesting-have been written about to surfeit. Then why should I write, even if ever I can? Then why should I live? So sing heigh, ho The holly, This life is most jollyMy permanent address is to the care of Mr. T. S. Perry, Baring Bros., London. 4 Sincerely Yours, Bernhard Berenson » r. Bartek: The Conquerer (1882), by Henryk Adam Sienkiewicz (1846-1916), Polish novelist best known for Quo Vadis? (1896). »2. Dr. Quies has not been identified. »3. Ma Confes»4. Thomas Sargeant Perry (1845-1928), sion was written in 1879 and published in 1884. American writer, scholar, and educator, "became the moving spirit in the little group of patrons" who financed BB's traveling fellowship to Europe (Samuels, p. 35).

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

54 rue de Vaugirard, Paris September 30th, 1887

I thank you so much for your letter. I should fall into sentimentality if I attempted to tell you how it cheered me up, and how happy it made me. And I am so glad too that you liked Bartek quite as much, I think, as I did. There are not many writers in Poland like Sienkiewicz but I shall send you all I can pick up in translation. There is a writer, a Ruthenian, who vexes and delights me a good deal. It is Sacher-Masoch, who has written some twenty volumes of very romantic, very naturalistic, very theoristic, and frequently very excellent romances. One of these quite a short one I admire a great deal, "Don Juan of Kolomea." 1 Having had a streak of industry this week, and not a thing in my poor head worthy of being put on paper, I began to translate this romance, and shall keep on now till I finish it. Here in France Sacher-Masoch has been much translated and admired. He lacks the clear vision, the simplicity of foundation, and the pitch, that both Turgenev and Tolstoy have. But he is much like them, and, unhappily has enough morbidness and lubricity in many of his writings to make them a vexation to the genuine lover of literature. "Don Juan" however, would be perfect were it not in places altogether too, too clever-which overcleverness, by the way, is the curse of most contemporary writings. It is such a pleasure to send you books that I send you one by this mail. 2 It is by a writer whom, from the moment he began to write I recognized as one of me, or to be modest, that I was one of him. He has written some exquisite verses, three volumes of criticism under the title of Les Contemporains and very astute, clever, piercing, witty criticism it is, and this volume of stories that I send you, wrl.tten in a style of most pellucid simplicity, 6


and containing a "timbre" for which it is as hard to find words as for that of Pater, 3 or de Goncourt, 4 or Botticelli, still as definite as can be to him who possesses the same. I feel much tempted to tell you of the immense pleasure these stories have given me, and to speak of each in particular. The first is the story of a young Roman, a stoic, then a sceptic, then an unpleased, ever-nauseated debaucher, who at last grows fond of the aesthetic element in Christianity, and dies a nihilist, although as it is supposed a Christian martyr, who is sanctified accordingly. As a story it is not at all so beautiful, and it lacks the details, but despite all differences it is the brother of Pater's Marius the Epicurean which you have read of course. The latter covers no more ground, but it reproduces the whole atmosphere in its wealth of exquisite, tenderly transcribed detail, and it presents us Marius as very living by making us wind spiral-like through and through him, just in that way which the brothers de Goncourt present their best characters. "St. Agatha" is very slight-as so much that is very great art may bebut what an exquisite butterfly touch of humor! "L' Ainee" is such a delicate picture of life, and so pathetic, for it is a touch of the inevitable in the misery of some lives, and the same humor too. And "En nourrice," \vhat a great thing it is where the distracted father is about to strike the nurse and stops, knowing so well that it is useless, that she will deny, that she will lie, that in short it is no use. How often I feel so about many, very many things in life. I live in a way, and talk a language all my own, and others live and talk in their way, and we clash, all I can do is to get out of the way, for understanding, reconciliation is hopeless. The opening paragraph of "Pauvre ame" expresses so well what I never can forget, the utterly irremediable misery that is all about me. It is art which seems just as conscious of that misery, and which has in consequence its heart filled just as full of tenderness for all the little, helpless things, and as full of longing for a better something in which we neither believe nor hope-it is such art that gives me real joy. You find it in Sophocles, and Virgil, often in the middle ages, then most of all in the paintings of Sandro Botticelli, and nowadays in the Russian writers, and in Matthew Arnold, and William Morris among our own poets. "Les deux fleurs" has some of the beauty of "Aucassin et Nicolette," written as it is in a rather archaic French, and full of such humor merely of situation. But "Boun" is the gem of the book. On first reading it I laughed till I cried. If I had sat for years to a temperament5 painter he could not have drawn a better picture of a very big part of me, than this story contains. Were not Lemaitre such a fellow himself, he never could have written it. And when you have read it, all, and have kept it just as long as you please will you kindly forward it to Mrs. G. H. Burton, To the Care of Prof. A. E. Burton, Mass. Inst. of Technology, Boston. 6 One word more, to show how genuinely poetic he can be. Once he speaks of the sunsets that bleed in the pools, and another time, of pouring a whole spring in a bier. 7


I am getting to love Paris very much, as indeed I should almost any place after I had been in it three months. What I love is never the photographic image, for which I need not go to Europe, for I had it of most things here, in America, but the image one has of something beautiful, especially if it be a building or view, after he has seen it in almost all moods of his own soul, and of the soul of nature outside, under all lights and shadows, and under all times of the day and night. I have such a lovely view from my window. It looks at, and over the treetops of the Luxembourg, and frames them in so beautifully with the clouds above them which are frequently so stationary that they look like mist-capped mountains. The autumn is coming fast. In some gardens the trees are leafless already, but in mine not yet. Still they are growing more and more sunburnt. They do not as in New England assume the hectic red of consumption. Here the leaves drop like russet apples. But the stormy New England autumns were so dear to me. I felt in perfect accord with them. By a stroke of genius I have found out what your seal means. The engraver simply writes it upside down, and having discovered that, it became intelligible: Man sabar zafar which is good Arabic for the English: He who waits will attain. This letter reads very much like a composition, but you will excuse that I hope. It is such a pleasure to write to you, that I hope you will give me occasion to do so again very soon. Sincerely Yours, Bernhard Berenson Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-95), German novelist from whose name the word masochism is derived. "Don Juan of Kolomea" is a short story from Venus in Furs (1870). »2. Jules Lemaitre (1853-1914), French writer and critic who wrote the seven-volume Contemporains (1885-99). The stories to which BB refers appeared in Serenus: Histoire d'un martyr, contes d'autrefois et d'aujourd'hui (1886). »3. Walter Horatio Pater (1839-94), English essayist. Both his Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873) and his philosophical romance Marius the Epicurean (1885) had a great influence on BB. »4. Edmond-Louis-Antoine Huot de Goncourt (1822-96) and his brother, Jules-Alfred Huot de Goncourt (1830-70), French novelists and collaborators on social histories and art criticism. »5. The word "character" was crossed out and replaced with "temperament." »6. Alfred E. Burton (1857-1935), professor of civil engineering and dean of students at M. I. T., 1902-27. His wife, Gertrude Hitz Burton (d. 1896), knew MB at Smith College and BB at Harvard. »I.

54 rue de Vaugirard, Paris

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

Thanksgiving day, 1887

I a1n so glad that you liked the volume of Jules Lemaitre I sent you, and last week I mailed you a critique on him, written from the other side, but containing premises that neither he or I would deny of ourselves. And with that paper I sent you Paul Bourget's Mensonges, a very remarkable novel which I read through all in one night. 1 As I read it I felt that a greater part of it was true, and the rest possible. I kept coming on sentences, and paragraphs, 8


and even whole pages which seemed very wonderful to me, but I could not say to myself when I finished: I have been reading a great work. It is so hard to account for one's final impression of a book! You ask me what I am doing. I may say nothing apparently. Time escapes between my fingers. I seem to read little, because reviews do not fill you with the pride of having read books. And more you ask me whether I am going on. I think I am. I am forgetting a good deal, I doubt not. But I am learning many things, of a different order. Indeed, were I quite independent, I hardly should look into books while in Europe. I could be so busy observing, looking at pictures, going to the theatre, talking, and above all loafing miscellaneously. But as the good people who made it possible for me to come here, expect me no doubt to return a paragon of all sorts of learning-sad will be their disappointment-I try to read a few hours every day. But my growth is not in that line. I have become so much more intelligent than I was six months ago. And I have grown so much more serious. Indeed I think at times that I am growing more serious, and less earnest every day. I was ever so much more in earnest several years ago than I have been since. I used to take life and art so much more passionately; but it was passionate play. Now my enthusiasms have vanished indeed, but I look at the whole world in a more serious way. That of course is the common progress of all men. Only that to most their own life is of little interest, and to me mine is of the greatest, so great that often I wonder whether it be not a sign of premature senility, whether it does not indicate that I have so early arrived at the inevitable age of mummification. Who knows? I write almost not at all. I have so little time, and less inclination. I feel that here I must observe, and that it will be time enough to write when I return home. So that I only translated a few pages of "Don Juan of Kolomea," and left it. Indeed I doubt whether I could get any one to publish it. It is rarely that I write now, and then to put some short epigram down in my note book-some of which I should be glad to read to you, if I do not burn the book as I am often tempted to do for very shame of such bathos. I hope that you recieved "Hadaka." It is not one of the author's best, but his sure enough. I am very glad that you mean to be in Spain this spring. I do not know where I shall be. My plans are so vague, but here there always is a chance of meeting. I took a long and delightful walk yesterday across the Bois, with a young man whose acquaintance I made a few days ago. He was born in Boston, but a Frenchman by blood. Walking to the Bois we fell into a long discussion of things that should not be talked about, metaphysics, I hate such discussion, but I take the greatest pleasure in the manner in which it is carried on. This fellow impressed me, and finally I told him that he talked to me as a man who sees a vision talks to a man who does not see it. He was much offended. He thought I was making fun of him. And he complained several times that I was making fun of him. Now-this is all uninteresting-but what is there in me that impresses so many people that 9


I am sarcastic or something of that sort, when I am so, not at all. I can not accuse myself of flippancy, yet I seem doomed to be suspected by so many. I am so often impressed by the hopeless misunderstanding of each other in which we live. I do not mean general misunderstanding, in the sense in which some people nurse as their proper rag-baby, their fatality not to be understood. I mean that so often you say something earnestly which your friend misunderstands. You realize it, and that it is hopeless to explain. Why am I so dull! It must be this weather. Will you excuse me if I tell you that I was amused by your question about Panin. 2 He has beco1ne my bete-noire. I do not know him, and know little about him, except that he is reputed Russian, author of a book of thoughts published two years ago, dear friend of almost all my acquaintances, and a person of doubtless extraordinary personality. For two years hardly a week has passed without my being asked whether I know Panin. I first heard of him at Concord two years ago, where he seemed then to be the idol of the town, and darling of several elderly maiden ladies. Since almost every time that I am unfortunately introduced as a Russian-which I protest I am not-being a thorough Lithuanian-I have been asked whether I knew Panin. As I said almost all my friends know him and like him. Mr. Partridge was here a few days ago, and to-day I received a note from him, from Rome where he means to stay the winter. 3 I protest it is my greatest pleasure to write to you, but it is too bad to inflict such stuff upon you as I have written today. Please forgive it. My intention is good. Sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson P. S. Will you please-may I ask you to forward Mensonges to Mrs. L. C. Moulton, 28 Rutland Square, Boston. 4 B.B. »I. Paul-Charles-Joseph Bourget (1852-1935), French critic, poet, and novelist, wrote Mensonges in l 887. He and his wife were introduced to ISG by Henry James in l 893 and were her guests in Boston. »2. Ivan Nikolaevich Parrin (1855-1942) , Russian writer, translated Pushkin's poems and taught Russian literature and Biblical studies at Harvard. He wrote to ISG and inscribed a copy of his book Aphorisms in 1903. »3. William Ordway Partridge (1861-1930) , sculptor, was born in Paris of American parents and was author of Art for America (1894) and Techniques of Sculpture (1895) . »4. Ellen Louise Chandler Moulton (183 5-1908), writer of verse and juvenile stories, was famous for her "Fridays ," at which guests with literary interests met.

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

54 rue de Vaugirard, Paris December 11th, 1887

I feel so much ashamed of my last letter that I wish to make amends with another. I went to see Sarah Bernhardt yesterday in Sardou's new play La Tosca. 1 You have heard of it already of course, and know what it is about. And I need not say that Bernhardt acted her part wonderfully, I mean with perfect simplicity. I noticed with pleasure too, how well I understood many IO


points in her acting that would have been lost on me six months ago. But the play is very cruel. From the beginning of the second act to the end of the third I was on the rack. I could hardly bear it-such suffering of the kind which translates itself at once into your own nerves. I quivered as if the torture were being applied to me. Between the acts I had time to wonder why it is that the modern tragedy racks us so excruciatingly while the ancient tragedy, though it portrays the most awful suffering rather makes us glow with a fervor that is more pleasure than pain. And it occurred to me that the ancient tragedy is profoundly tragic while the modern often is merely exasperating. Ancient tragedy shows us a character inevitably encountering its doom. Nothing under heaven can ameliorate the fate or prevent the doom of Oedipus, or of the Pelapidae, or of Orestes. Their Karma does everything, accident has no part in their fate. Modern tragedy on the contrary rarely is founded on character and most often on accident. And it is this waste of life that exasperates, and jogs, and embitters us. Why need Meg Gulliver be drowned? 2 She might be to be sure. "But is that an answer?"-as Heine3 so bitterly asks on one occasion-to our demand as to what ought to become of one such as Meg Gulliver. By drowning her George Eliot avoids the question and makes me despise her for a charlatan and coward. So in Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare has roused every fiber of our sympathies only to cut them with a dull stone knife at the end. I do not say of course I wish Romeo and Juliet to end well; but I see no reason why they need die. Indeed their death is a mere accident, and we are indignant at the loss. I can not bear even to read that play now. Again in Hamlet, you know I suppose in the French adaptation of the play Hamlet does not die. At first sight that seems ridiculous, and all Anglo-Saxon critics make merry over this peculiar sign of French character. And perhaps you will find me absurd, but I do think the French are right. All that we have in Hamlet is a study, a sketch, not at all a finished work. That at once is why it is so great and so perplexing. Take any highly organized man and put him in a situation as perplexing as that of Hamlet, and you will have the same inextricable problem. No I am not clear. I mean that Hamlet is not a writer's puppet but one of the two or three real characters in literature, and in the play we have nothing but a cross-section of his life at a certain moment, nothing more. You file it down a little, but you do not come to its end. And the death of Hamlet not only is utterly needless, but caused by a most trifling accident. In Othello, by the way, and to make myself clearer by contrast we have a tragic situation. There is the handkerchief to be sure; but were it not that it would have been something else. The tragedy is entirely in the character of Othello, and he could not but kill Desdemona, and himself. So in the play I saw yesterday. There was nothing tragic in the characters of the hero and heroine. They are gay, almost giddy, and the very joy of nature; but one or two petty accidents, a fan, the heroine's commonplace jealousy, her remaining in her lover's villa, bring about their destruction, and worse than that II


for the spectator the torture scene. All unnecessary, and maddening in consequence. You will have been very patient to have read all this. I went again to-day to see the exhibition of Pu vis de Chavannes' pictures. 4 I admire many of the living French artists but he is the only one to take hold of me. I send you the catalogue, and a very witty, cutting criticism by Paul Mantz, 5 and that will tell you more about them than I could. They are so simple, so sweet, so peaceful, so Greek without being classic. He paints the sea as I never have seen it painted, and our sea too, the dull blue, or ultramarine sea, with the copper sky on its horizon that we see so often all along our coast. I sat for half an hour before his Femmes au bard de la mer, and I was so happy. His Sleep makes me think of "Endymion" in his undersea wanderings, there is such mistiness, and ooziness, and vague grandeur. And many of his smaller paintings, especially his Hope remind one of Cardinal Newman's songs and hymns. Perhaps Puvis de Chavannes is more poet than painter-at any rate he is a very extraordinary phenomenon here in model-enslaved, technical, unspiritual, French art. Perhaps you already have read Mensonges. Don't you think it is a good modern variation of the theme of Manon Lescaut? 6 It is more than that of course, but still that, at bottom. And Bourget is the sincerest and most earnest of the younger poets. I wish you would read his "Edel" if you do not know it already. It is a poem, and it deals with life just as I know it, at least. I was reading Thoreau's Walden yesterday, and it occurred to me-a really important discovery-that there is a great similarity in the philosophy of life found in this book, especially in the first section, with the philosophy of Tolstoy as given especially in his ethical works; only that Thoreau seems to obtain his results too easily, and has not the simplicity and freedom from all cant of Tolstoy. Indeed Thoreau is too much a pedant, and liver at second hand-for Thoreau, of course-while Tolstoy speaks with the fixing directness that comes from a lifetime of profound, and most varied experience. Yes, and Thoreau is too much a dilettante in solitude, and not sincere enough, and too much, and despite himself, a poser, and too smart. Indeed is not smartness the mark of our American literature? And smartness is what distinguishes amateurish literature from a genuine one. Have we really had one writer who was much more than an amateur. Emerson-an amateur in life-philosophy. Longfellow-amateur in poetry, Hawthorne-amateur in romance, James in the novel. I regret that I find Mr. Howell's novels uninteresting, because he talks of people I care nothing about, but he is the nearest approach to a serious writer that we have had or have. 7 I feel about his books just as I do about those of Linnaeus. I blame myself for a narrowness which shuts out from me the world of plants, and of commonplace people-(! like not this last phrase). This will reach you about Christmas, and with it my best greetings. It is to me the loveliest day of the year, for it celebrates the dawn of the most 12


glorious dream that we ever have dreamt, and that many of us dream even after waking just as we try to continue any other lovely dream after waking-and you know how hard it is to dream the dream over again awake. Sincerely Yours, Bernhard Berenson »I. Victorien Sardou (1831-1908), French playwright, wrote La Tosca in 1887. »2. Maggie Tulliver (not "Gulliver") is the heroine of George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss (1860) . »3. Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), German lyric poet and literary critic. »4. Pierre-Cecile Puvis de Chavannes (1824-98,), French painter best known for his murals. His first work in the Sorbonne was unveiled in 1887. In the 1890s he painted murals in the Boston Public Li»5. Paul Mantz (1821-95), French critic and cataloguer; member of the Academie brary. royale de peinture et de sculpture. »6. Histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut (173 l) was written by Abbe Antoine-Franc;ois Prevost d'Exiles (1697-1763). Although the opera Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) was written in 1893, the story had been »7. William Dean Howset to music in 1856 by Daniel-Franc;ois-Esprit Auber (1782-187i) . ells (1837-1920), American novelist and essayist, was editor of the Atlantic Monthly, 1871-8r.

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 r Holy well St., Oxford January the 27th, I 888

I received your last letter on the evening before I left Paris, and since I hardly have had the temper to write. It was a shock, a small uprooting to leave Paris. I regretted the architecture and the pictures, all of which had become so dear to me; I regretted the Perrys, and the friends I had, or had made, and not least did I regret that I should not be in the city when you were there, and that I should not have the pleasure of going with you to see some of the things I love most. Perhaps the greatest pleasure I have is either to read verses to my friends, or to take them to see the pictures, and buildings, and bits of nature that I love. But I do hope to see you somewhere next summer. I probably shall be in Germany then, and you surely will not fail to be there. So that is something I look forward to. I spent ten quite busy and happy days in London. There is little of architectural interest there, the Abbey, and the Temple Church, the latter being most beautiful, something you must see if you have not yet seen it. But the pictures-I hardly fancied there were so many in the whole world, almost a bewildering number; and I did not see half of what was to be seen by the more privileged. At any rate I saw all I could enjoy, the collection of the National Gallery, so very rich in pre-Raphaelite master-pieces, 1 especially charming me with Orcagna, the Giotteschi, and Fra Angelico, and the loan collection at the Burlington House where I saw finer Velasquezes and Frans Hals than I had seen, a good Giorgione-even a bad one would be well worth seeing-anci any number of good Dutch pictures, and Italian basso relievo, among the latter Donatello's slate panel of St. Cecilia that I saw then for the first time. A week ago last night I came here. It had been my dream before I went

13


to college at all to go to Oxford, and to spend my life there. I was almost mad with longing for it, and I never quite got over it, although in five years I have travelled far from the aspirations I had then. Now, I find that I should have been happy had I been able to come here, that I should have found a place at last almost perfectly beautiful, all the books I wanted, and the most congenial people possible. At any rate I find all these things at Oxford now. I can not get over my surprise at the English, whom I admire beyond measure. Poor Harvard, and its men, it is not fair to compare it and them, especially them to Oxford men. These are all-in as far as I can see, very clever, brilliant, serious even although without too much gravity, and welltaught, just the men whom I admire, and even adore. There is something so crude and vulgar, and stupid about many if not most Harvard men. I am getting much discontented with myself; for though I am having a very pleasant time I accomplish little in reading, and nothing at all in writing. Just before leaving Boston I was quite the compound of vanity, affectation, and intensity to write things the public loves well-nonsense. Now, I feel too well that I have cut with the pack of would-be universal scholarship, or the affectation thereof, but I do not see at all what I am to do at last. Meanwhile I am drifting very pleasantly to be sure, were it not that my kind friends keep clamoring whither, and for the life of me I can not tell. They may get so disgusted, they will pull the plank from under me. Then will I return to the city I love so well, and as of old drift in r r Minot St., until I drift into something. I am too wise now to have plans and ambitions. I have a certain confidence that I am changing, being added to, and subtracted from every day, and where I finally shall find myself would be a matter almost of indifference were I self-dependent. If ever I have a boy to bring up, the one thing he shall be made to avoid is nihilism. A nihilistand I doubt whether quite so thorough a one as I ever existed-is worse than Satan. There are some things so funny about some Oxford men. Their learning is likely to be in strata. One man the other evening showed that he knew Theocritus literally by heart, but thought that Aristotle lived a hundred and fifty years after him. Another man, able, and learned in his own lines thought that Milton was a poor imitation of Marlowe, quite forgetting the century by which the latter preceded the former. One man, with whom I am to lunch to-day told me that Oxford hitherto had been quite free from all human interests , and that he hated to see them introduced, he could not bear philanthropy, in which intolerance I am quite with him, as it has always seemed to me that of all modern hypocrisies philanthropy often is the most farcical. Philanthropists would throw a ton, let us say a million tons of sugar, or more likely molasses into the ocean to make it sweet. I have been reading lots of stupid things in the magazines, and how much am I ashamed to think that I can write nothing even as good as these stupid articles by well-known gentlemen of the long-eared guild. 14


I will bore you no more. I perceive I am. Please write to me. Yet will I not wait for an answer, but as soon as I have something to say to make up for this. Please to address me directly, to the care ofT. S. Perry Esq., Baring Bros., London. Sincerely Yours, Bernhard Berenson Âť r. By "Pre-Raphaelites," BB means literally those before Raphael, not the English nineteenth-

century school.

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 1 Holy well St. Oxford Feb. 25th, 1888

I had a funny dream last night. It was that I saw Browning runing up and down Pall Mall trying to make people parley with him. You know that is his attitude always: "This thing is altogether too plain; let us tangle it up, and then make believe we are trying to disentangle it. People generally believe with that crude and vulgar Dante that Judas is in the deepest depth of Hell, that he is the traitor incarnate. That will never do. It's altogether too simple. Let us parley; but I haven't time for it. Here Story take the subject and make out as good a case as you can for Judas, and you Augusta Webster justify Pilate." So W W. Story 1 and Mrs. Webster 2 at once assume appropriate attitudes and begin to "parley" and Story obeys commands faithfully, but Mrs. Webster has altogether too much originality. Indeed I admire her. To be sure she owes a good deal to Browning, but I like her least when she is parleying. She has a standpoint quite her own, intense, womanly (in a psychological sense), keenly alive to all the misery about her, which she never parleys away. And she has such fine dramatic ability, altho' none of the playwright, such exquisite pathos and tenderness. You will find many lovely verses in A Woman Sold, and Other Poems. Her Disiuises also gave n1c quite a unique pleasure. It is a play rich in life and beauty. Indeed, I have been reading quite a number of dramas of recent creation; it's an exciting kind of reading. One by Robert Bridges, 3 a man who has written some charming verses, called Nero, at once makes you think of Racine's Britannicus which I prefer. But Bridges is good, altho' too flat, and for a person not French, I am "partial" to Racine. I enjoy the unfailing beauty of his verse, and the fine mechanism of his plays. He fills his frame in and lets nothing protrude. I have read still another playwright a young woman, I should say, who calls herself Michael Field, and has for four years written a play every three months. 4 She is most amusing, so very crude, so very earnest, so ignorant in a way, and yet so full of the most exquisite poetry. I know nothing to equal the faun in her first play Callirrhoe. Hawthorne would have been ecstatic over it. It quite redeems the crudity and vulgarity of other parts of her plays, and proves at the same time that she is a poet of a high order who has not found out yet that one need not write a play to be able to create such

15


a character as the faun any more than one need burn a house every time one has a hankering for roast pig. I never was in such a place as this; for a fortnight it has not stopped snowing, and just before that it was as warm and bright as summer weather, so that it was delightful to go out boating. But the snow put an end to everything, except reading, and I have read three rather interesting novels in that time. I shall speak first of the last "Lucas Malet"-no that is the author's name, a pseudonym for Ch. Kingsley's eldest daughter-of Mrs. Lorimer. 5 Mrs. Lorimer is a niece of a Midlandshire rector, who lives a quiet old fashioned life with his wife a very narrow, typically English woman-I fancy. At 21 Mrs. Lorimer is left a widow, and returning from abroad to the rectory finds life intolerable. She has beauty, talent, and many ambitions and desires. So she quarrels and goes to town. There a certain Fred Wharton a dilettante falls-no, experiments in my own fashion upon her, and at last when it is already too late, when the heroine who by the way always impressed you as a woman not quite awake to her life yet, has woke to her duty to her dead husband, and has forsaken frivolity, and retired to the rectory-then he finds out that he is hopelessly in love with her. The heroine of course engages in all sorts of philanthropic schemes, and dies very soon from a contagious disease. In a certain way this is the best English novel I have read. Certainly it is the only one that seriously, without any kind of flourishes, and cleverness, tries to describe very common place life, especially a woman's life, frankly as a woman knows it. It seems to me the most difficult thing in the world to know what women feel or think. One's own experiences count for little, and women almost invariably when they write either would have one believe that they are men, and so tell you very little about women, or they are so little creative, so merely imitative of male novelists that they write merely conventional things. So I greet this book with great pleasure, because here for once a remarkably intelligent woman attempts really to tell me what vvomen of the average kind feel and think. Of course we have Mrs. Browning to tell us all about their uninteresting, half-masculine, halfhysterical aspirations. Then this Mrs. Lorimer interested me because it becomes so much like my "Third Category." Yes, I fancy the shrewdest man's knowledge of women is much like the knowledge our great-great-, grandfathers had of Central Africa. The other novel is Stendhal's La Chartreuse de Parme-not a novel but a long and delightful romance: You know Stendhal of course, and how he was a link between Benjamin Constant 6 and the modern way of looking at things. Indeed he may be called the founder of the modern realistic novel French or Russian. What strik~s one most in reading La Chartreuse is how like it is, considering the difference of life described and of the author's paramount interests-how like to the romances of Tolstoy. It shows you at once who was the latter's master; for a master even he must have had. r6


The third novel is the regular three-volume thing, and has been the rage of the town. It is a wild, romantic affair full of conventional and impossible characters, and teeming with casual very clever observations that make the unwary reader, as well as the writer himself believe that the writer knows all about life when in reality he knows very little. It is called The New Antigone and was written by Dr. William Barry, Catholic parish priest of Dorchester, right near here. 7 I have heard a deal about him, and it is this awful weather that prevents me from meeting it [him]. It is the authorship of the book that makes it so very interesting to me. Perhaps you have read it already. If so you know how fair he is, and how well on the whole he has kept his Catholicism out. But I am told by a friend of mine here who once studied for the priesthood in the same seminary with him, that Barry is a very lame Catholic. In a fortnight I shall be going to the Netherlands. You must be preparing to go abroad. I look forward to seeing you in the summer somewhere in Germany. I shall be about a month in the Netherlands, and then I shall go on to Berlin. I shall stay there two months, if I can resist the temptation to spend June in a rush into Russia. But it is a temptation I must resist. Warren8 protests he won't go all the way out to Siberia to get me out of prison, and it would be quite inconvenient to have to spend several years there. So I suppose I shall spend the summer seeing Germany. I feel at times that I am going to pieces, which is not a bad thing, but the sad thing is that I have not the least desire as yet to take these pieces and reconstruct another self out of them. I have never drifted so in all my life, not that I am doing less or acquiring less, only that it all seems aimless. I have cut with scholarship. I am as yet far from being a writer, and farther still am I from having the means or the spirit to be what on the whole I might best be-a man of the world. But you see that is not a profession anywhere, and in America least of all. So I am drifting, having a kind of faith that some day I will get to a kind of jumping off place. Are you fond of Baudelaire? Do you enjoy him? I feel tempted to translate his Poemes en Prose some of which are among the most exquisite things ever written. I wish to have your advice. Do you think an American publisher would take them, or indeed would they be the kind of thing better left untranslated. Most sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson »I. William Wetmore Story (1819-95), sculptor and man of letters, was an intimate friend of the Brownings and of Charles Eliot Norton. He practiced law in Boston until l 8 56, when he settled in Rome and devoted himself to sculpture. »2. Mrs. Augusta Webster (1837-94), English poet. »3. Robert Bridges (1844-1930), was appointed poet laureate in 1913. »4. Michael Field was the pseudonym of English authors Katherine Harris Bradley (18461914) and Edith Emma Cooper (1862-1913), who collaborated on lyric poetry and poetic drama. »5. Lucas Malet was the pseudonym of novelist Mary St. Leger Kingsley (18521931). Mrs . Lorimer was published in 1882. »6. Benjamin Constant de Rebecque (17671830), French writer and politician, published The New Antigone in 1887. »7. William Barry (1849-1929), English Roman Catholic priest and author of essays, romantic novels, and books

17


on Cardinal Newman and Renan. Âť8. Edward Perry "Ned" Warren (1860-1928), Harvard class of 1883, was at Oxford from 1883 to 1885. He went to Greece with William Amory Gardner in the summer of 1885. Between 1888 and 1890 he established himself at Lewes House, Sussex, where, surrounded by a group of scholars, he became a buyer of art for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

Antwerp, March the 18th, 1888

I received your delightful note some ten days ago in London a couple of days before leaving delightful, lovely England. How I did enjoy it, and how sorry I was to leave it! Of course Boston is my home, and Boston I love with all my heart, but it was very hard to find men there that were truly congenial. I shall not exaggerate in saying that I got to know far more men during my short stay in Erigland than in all the ten years of my life in Boston. So I regretted to leave England of course, and for a week I have been careering about Belgium in search of the beautiful, which exists here, but not in masses. One so used to the Louvre, and the National Gallery as I am is perhaps too unwilling to go to a town for one picture. And that is why I went to Bruges, and why I went to Ghent. At Bruges it is the all lovely St. Ursula shrine by Memling; and at Ghent the principal parts of Van Eyck's Adoration of the Lamb. For the world would I not have missed seeing them. Since my early childhood I had read about them and knew them in reproduction, but of course I had no notion of their real beauty, of the fineness of the drawing, and delicacy of coloring. At Brussels there is a deal more. To begin with the city is most delightful. Nature has done everything for it, and art not a little; for has it not Ste. Gudule with its fine choir and rich glass, the beautiful National Bank to the left of the Cathedral, the choir of Notre Dame de la Chapelle, and the finest miniatures I have ever seen, and some very good pictures, including one matchless Rembrandt. Then one must travel the world over to find such superb examples of bad taste as the Palais de Justice, or the bourse, or the hermae in the park of that same city. You know I am very glad you are somewhere on the Continent now. There is always a chance of meeting with friends on this side of the Atlantic. Let me hope it will be at Bayreuth-unless that Americanized place prove too expensive for one. At any rate to Germany I go within a fortnight, and without much glee. It is curious. I can so well remember when the word Deutschland made me ring, when Moritz Arndt was among my favorite poets, 1 and now I go to Berlin with a shiver. There are some fine courses there so go I must. But how sorry I am that I shall not be with you in Paris to show you all the lovely things I have got to know so well. I shall do the next best thing. When you are in Paris I will write out in full all I should r8


like to have you see, and no doubt a deal of my enthusiasm will bubble over in adjectives to the list. Of course I can not talk books in this note, for I get no time to read while travelling. Still I carry Fromentin with me, and read him each evening about the pictures I have seen that he criticizes. 2 He is the only writer on pictures worth his salt, but I do not always agree with him, hardly at all on Rubens. While you are on the Continent, you shall hear as often from me as you like. Most sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson Âť r. Ernst Moritz Arndt (1769 -1860), German author and patriot . Âť2. Eugene-SamuelAuguste Fromentin (1820-76), French genre painter, es peciall y of Al gerian scenes, was equ all y well known as an author of fiction and criticism. BB refe rs to L es Martres d 'a utrefo is (1876).

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

Charlottenstrasse 59 III, Berlin April the 19th, 1888

A full fortnight must have passed since I received your delightful letter from Seville. 1 How I wished I were there with you. I wished it especially as I could not bear Berlin when I got here. It is so very flat, so very ugly, so stiff, so South Boston like. It is all I can do to bear it after almost three weeks of residence. It was such a change from dear, gay, beautiful Holland to this stiff, abject country. And to have to speak German, what can be worse! But I was hungry for books when I got here, so I plunged in, and read a good deal; but only two of the books I have read can interest you. Of one of them you must know; I mean Zola's La Terre of which I need only say that I place it among the very greatest. The other one is a strange play in two parts by an extraordinary Norwegian named Ibsen. The play itself goes by the name of Emperor and Galilean, and is all about Julian the Apostate, who until a day or two ago seemed to me one of the most fascinating and sympathetic figures in history. In the first fifty pages Julian was quite what I wished him to be. Then all the littlenesses began to appear, and I grew very angry with Ibsen; but I kept on and read through the rest of the big book, and concluded that Ibsen was right, that he portrays Julian very much as he must have been, a vain pedant on a throne. The whole thing is more like an epic than a play, it is so vast, so many sided, so interpretative, but it has several situations that are beautiful beyond compare: one especially where Julian now Emperor clothed as high-priest is going in procession to sacrifice to Apollo and meets with a band of Christian zealots among whom is Julian's oldest and dearest friend, who the day before broke into the temple of Venus and are now being led away to martyrdom. The two processions stop. Julian sees his friend, and wishes to forgive him and his companions, if only they will acknowledge their repentance, but that they will not, and they are led away to the left and at the same time Julian with 19


his train goes to the right. And as they start one procession begins a hymn to Apollo, and the other a hymn to Christ, and both are heard together until they are out of sound. What a beautiful scene. No, in September I shall be in Venice and I regret not in Paris; but I count on seeing you at Bayreuth in July. I shall remain here I think, until the 22d of June, then I shall go on to Dresden where I hope to spend a delightful month seeing pictures, and walking. You are quite right about Baudelaire. Still my friend here says that he would have read him in college had he been put into English. I think I could make a good translation, but I am quite sure it would find no publisher. At any rate I venture to send you a translation of one of the sketches. Perhaps you remember the original. And when you have read it, please return it. I wonder whether you are now in Madrid. If you are you have some of the very best and best known pictures in the world there. I long to get there, and when I do, I wish to stay long enough to study the gallery carefully, and perhaps I shall write something about it, for about the Spanish painters there is next to nothing written. You know until a few months ago I thought that possibly Dutch painting, or Spanish might rival Italian. I think so no longer. I have now seen at least samples of all the Dutch painters, and compared to the Venetians they are what Mr. Howells is to Shakespeare. I say the Venetians because the more I see pictures and free myself from bookopinions and preoccupations, the more does it seem to me that the Venetians are the painters par excellence, the freest from all affectation, the most sensuous, the most beautiful. They give one no ideas, and almost direct sensation and that is all we can get out of art. One may love Botticelli a thousand times more than any Venetian, but the pleasure one gets from Botticelli is really an exquisite, high strung pain. I repeat my wish to write to you very often; and much of my meaning is that I wish to hear from you very often. Sincerely Yours, Bernhard Berenson Please to address me here. ISG bought her first old master there in r 888: a seventeenth-century Madonna and Child, then attributed to Francisco de Zurbad.n, now considered from his shop. ÂťI.

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

Charlottenstrasse 59 III Berlin, May the 23, 1888

I got back yesterday from a trip of a few days into the Spreewald. It is a region about the sources of the Spree, thickly wooded, where one is taken through over miles and miles of narrow canals, on a boat not very unlike 20


the gondolas you may be employing this very moment. What makes this bit of country so fascinating to me is that it is still inhabited by Wends, who retain their speech, their manners, and costumes. It would be interesting enough to see the sole remnant of any people that had once been great. But to me it was more than that. It was almost like getting back to my old home, for the language of the Wends is Slavonic, and their way of living, save for the peculiarity that they use boats for everything instead of wagons, is exactly like that of the peasants whom I knew at home. Indeed almost at every step I saw something that reminded me of what I used to see when a child, that brought back pictures that had grown very faint in my memory. I felt a nearness of relationship to the people that was almost sentimentality. Perhaps that made it easier for me to find fine beauty in the young women, and girls. So different they are from the heavy German types; most of the Wendish have Botticelli faces, yes even to the very eyes. Last night I saw Goethe's Faust on the stage for the first time. Abridged as it was, it took four and a half hours, through the greater part of which one is bored to death, for whatever Faust may be it is not a play. Still it has many scenes that are quite incomparable, and for my part I think these were very well played. A little while ago I heard Glinka's Life for the Tsar, given in Russian. 1 I was charmed with the opera. It was truly national. Some of the choruses were familiar to me as harvest songs I used to hear. Perhaps the finest building in Berlin is the Jewish synagogue. One evening last week I attended a service there, and heard beautiful singing, a choir of boys, perhaps fairer than any I had heard. The whole thing was beautiful, save the behavior of many of the worshippers , who, as my Norwegian friend remarked, seemed to be engaged selling old clothes . This friend by the way has translated into his tongue a story I wrote a few weeks ago, of which I venture to send you the first draft. I fear it runs a greater chance of appearing in Norwegian than in English. It is very slight and unpretentious. In the second draft which I have sent to Lippincotts' I have changed the last chapter to suit the readers i.e. the girl of 17. 2 This morning I read through again I don't know for the howmanieth time "Aucassin et Nicolette." 3 You know it perhaps, the loveliest story ever written in the loveliest of old French. I am sure it would give you infinite pleasure. This morning, if I had let myself go, I could have fainted out of sheer delight. I can't resist the temptation to quote you one of the songs, in the song-story.

Quant on voit li quens Garius De son enfant Aucassin, Qu 'il ne para departir De Nicolette au cler vis En une prison l 'a mis, En un celier posteriu,

Now when saw the Count Garius In his son Aucassin That he would not leave Nicolette of the bright face In a prison he put him In a cellar underground 21


Aui Ju Jais de marbre bis. Quant or i vint Aucassins, Dolans Ju, aine ne Ju si A dementer se se prist, Si con vos porres oir: -Nicolette, fiors de lis Douce amie o le cler vis Plus es douce que raisins Ne que soupe en maserin, L'autrier vi un pelerin, Nes estoit de Limosin Ma lades de l 'esvertin Si gisoit en un lit. Mout par estoit entrepris De grant mal amala dis. Tu passas devant son lit, Si souleva ton train, Et ton pelifon ermin, La cemise de blanc Zin Tant que ta ganbete vit. Garis Ju Ii pelerius, Et tot sains, ainc ne Ju si; Si se leva de son lit, Si va la en son pais Sa ins et sans et tos garis. Dace amie fl ors de lis Biax alers, et biax venirs Biax jouers, et biax bordirs, Biax parlers, et biax delis Dox Baisiers et dox sentirs, Nu ne vos poroit hair! Por vos sui en prison mis, En ce celier sousterin, U je Jaf mout male fin. Or m 'i convenra morir.

That was made of marble grey. Now when Aucassin had come there Sad he was as never before, To lament he then began Thus, as you may hear.Nicolette flower de lys Sweet love of the bright face Sweeter art thou than the grape Or than mead in crystal cup. The other day I saw a pilgrim That native was in Limosin, Sick with fever of the head

I can not venture to give a literal translat. of this it would be too crude. I will give the few words that may be strange to you. ganbete = leg saus = cured biax = lovely bordir = toying Nu ne = nobody mout male fui = loud lament 22


Of course this can give you a slight idea, but sometime I hope you will read it. I wish I could be in Venice with you. After all the Venetians are the only great artists of modern times. Cordially yours, Bernhard Berenson Âť r. Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (r 804-57), composed the first Russian national opera, A Life

for the Czar, in 1836.

J.

B. Lippincott and Co., Philadelphia, did not publish it. Âť3. "Aucassin et Nicolette" is an early thirteenth-century chantefable in which the verses are sung and the prose is recited. Âť2.

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

81 Luttichaustr. Dresden June the 14th, 1888

It was very good of you to have liked the story I sent you. Of course it came to me safely. I had a note from home telling me that Lippincotts will not take it. I sometimes fancy I'll die without having had anything published. I have been ten days already in this delightful town which I doubt not you know well. Then you can imagine how I am enjoying it, especially the gallery with its wonderful treasures. Before going to Belgium I always had wondered why Rubens was so much admired. Since then, though unable to join in the admiration I have been able to understand it. So before coming here I did not understand the fame of Veronese. To be sure I had seen his large canvases in Paris and in London, but they did not appeal to me. Indeed at first sight they impressed me as scene-painting. But here I find him magnificent, and at the same time fine, and tender. He is the least religious of painters so that I find nothing pleasing in the most essential part of his Christ Bearing the Cross in which Christ seems to me to have the clouded brow of a man who is determined he won't let a practical joke of which he is the victim, go any further if he can help it. But where religious passion is not called for there he is great, as for instance in the picture of the Cuccina family led up by Faith, Hope, and Charity to the worship of the Christchild in the arms of the Virgin. You remember it with the two pillars between the Virgin, and the family, and the little boy clinging to one of them. There are happy children in all his pictures, playing with cunning dogs. One sees that again in the charming Finding of Moses. Indeed his imitators get in the same features. Thus there is a Presentation here by Farinati, a splendid thing, in which two dear youngsters are playing with a white dog, right in front of the altar. But I know it's a dreadful bore to read what other people have to say about pictures, and I could go on indefinitely. I only regret that I am not to have the good fortune of accompanying you to some one of the great galleries. Indeed, your lingering so long in Spain has made me fear that you may not be in Bayreuth for the 25th of July, in which case I might not see you at all, which I should regret immensely. Yesterday I read Daudet's Les Rois en exil and was moved by it. 1 It is not 23


only a picture of life in Paris, but it presents the condition of kingship today wonderfully, its irksomeness, its clownishness, its disgust to the kings themselves, who see how ridiculous their position is at the best. Indeed it has seemed to me for some time that the modern functions of a king, are chiefly those of a clown, or a circus performer, and his only privilege inordinate vulgarity, such as would not be tolerated for a moment in Brown, and Jones. I thank you so much for the interest you take in me. I feel so often that I have a hold on nothing, and that no-one cares a whit for me; me in myself. Your letters always bring with them a feeling of encouragement, and assurance to myself. Sincerely Yours, Bernhard Berenson ÂťI.

Alphonse Daudet (1840-97), French novelist, published L es Rois en exil in 1879.

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

4 Kolingasse, Vienna July the 4th, 1888

I have just finished the last volume of the Goncourt journals, published a little while ago. It tells the story of the last few years of their wonderful double life; for it ends with the death of Jules, related in a brief, and heartrending way by Edmond. I can never exaggerate the meaning of these two men and their works to me. When I think of them it is as if I were seeing a road before me on which I must walk from which there is no turning back. They always remind me too, of a writer who came earlier into my life, one of whom I have spoken to you already. I mean Mr. Walter Pater. The other day one of the friends I made in England sent me a copy of the new edition of the Renaissance. In the first editions I know this book almost by heart. Many a midnight in coming home I would take it up, and meaning to glance only at a passage here or there, would read it from cover to cover. The last edition contains in addition an essay on Giorgione, which does not altogether please me, but which contains several pages of penetrative criticism written down in Pater's most exquisite way. Pater's style is bad. His greatness is in his epithets, in their accuracy and rarity. Someday I hope you will read this essay. It can not fail to interest you after seeing the great Giorgione, "the Family" that is still in Venice. 1 My days in Dresden seemed only too short, and never have I spent happier. I know no pleasure equal to that I get from pictures, from great Venetian pictures. It is like the pleasure I have when I come across a wonderfully beautiful line of verse, or when I catch a strain of infinitely tender melody in one of Wagner's orchestral storms; only that in these instances the pleasure is of such short duration. But here too there are a number of fine pictures, indeed a large number; but somehow they do not impress one. One feels all the time that though he may be seeing praiseworthy works of the great masters, that he is not adding to his understanding of them got


elsewhere, or to the pleasure he has had from them already. Moreover, the pictures are scattered in several badly lighted, ill arranged galleries, the best are invisible because of copyists, and the poor ones are so numerous, that all in all it is hard to get into that rare mood in which one must be to get what I want to get out of pictures. To-day in the gallery of the Belvedere I met Mr. and Mrs. Waters. I think you don't know them. They scarcely recognized me. Mrs. Waters thought I had grown very thin, and her husband was sure I had grown two inches, and at last they made the discovery that I had cut my hair short "which was so characteristic"-my hair. Then Mrs. Waters began to talk in an authoritative tone about pictures, about which she really must know a good deal. She asked had I seen two portraits in another room, by Denner, that she thought the best in the world. I was startled at the statement, and promised her to see them, and I did, a bit later. I saw two portraits of old people in a uniform and impossible color that I had seen before. I remembered having been struck by the painting of the down on the old man's chin. The remarkable thing in the portraits was that the painter attempted to put into them every wrinkle on the face of his sitters, and such was his success that the woman's chin looks like a bleached dried fig. I should drive you crazy, I fear, if I could spend an hour in a great gallery with you, but it would be one of the greatest pleasures in the world to me. Shall you not be in Munich after Bayreuth? I shall be there then, and there is a reputed gallery there. I shall remain here over a week yet, then to Munich, slowly. Most sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson Âť 1 . Giorgione's La Tempesta, now in the Accademia, Venice.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Bologna, Sept. the 12th, 1888

This is to wish you hon voyage, and to thank you for the kind note I received from you just a fortnight ago. I was then at Basle, taking delight in the Holbeins, and in the cathedral. It was toward the end of my Swiss journeyings, which were extremely delightful. To be sure the weather was not always what I would have had it, but it served me well on two important occasions: once when I climbed the Grande Saleve to get a view of Blanc, and the other when I climbed Pilatus, from the top of which I saw the most magnificent sunset that I had ever seen. But Switzerland seems so very far behind me. It seems to me as if I had already been a long time in Italy, so much do I crowd into every day, and so full of delightfulness is it all. The first few days on this side the Alps were dream days. I seemed to be in a world where the sun shone so much more beautifully, where the stars seemed nearer, and where lives could not be but beautiful. So that I almost regretted the fortnight I had spent in Switzerland. 25


Maggiore, and Como seemed so much lovelier than the Swiss lakes. The sound of the wavelets murmuring on the little beach at Luino haunt me almost as much as the sound of the sea. Then at Como I had my first sight of an Italian cathedral. The proportions of the one at Como, the simple fa~ade made me wild with joy. But I have seen no proportions since, not even in the interior of Milan or the Certosa near Pavia that have given me so much pleasure. At Milan I remained four days, and busy as I was there, I never had been; so many churches, so many pictures. My chief delight was the Musee Poldo-Pezzoli with its darling pictures, beautiful furnishing, and all its treasures of dainty china, glass, rare 路 rugs, and curious armor. Leonardo's Last Supper surprised me. It was so different from what I had imagined it. I could scarcely look at anything in it but the hands. These said so much, and formed such beautiful lines. Another thing at Milan I shall never forget is da Vinci's Portrait of a Lady in the Ambrosiana. This morning I left Parma where I had been living on Correggio. Altho' I had seen his masterpieces, the pictures, and especially the frescoes seemed worth all those now north of the Alps. I gazed for hours at Il Giorno especially at the figure of the Magdalen, such a dream of color, and so tender, so clinging, so heartbroken, as she stands utterly unnoticed by the child with the protruding cheeks, and small chin, who is dying to get at the book held out to him by the angel. I got here early enough this afternoon to stroll about a bit. What a magnificent town it is with its palaces, massive public buildings, and continuous arcades. I shall stay here two days, then go on to Mantua, Verona, Brescia, Bergamo, Vicenza, and to Venice. Travelling must be so common place a thing to you that you scarcely think of it, but do take my best wishes for a delightful journey home. Sincerely, Bernhard Berenson

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

Venice, Oct. II, I888

To-day is just three weeks since I came to this town, and perhaps if you were here I could talk enough about it to make you believe that I had spent my time most industriously. To write about Venice is a different matter. I can not for the life of me see how any one but a genius can find a word to say about it that has not been said already more than once. Here at least I have not been wasting time in reading. To be sure I have at odd moments perused the first volume of Mr. Howell's Venetian Life, an entertaining book I [illegible], but it has not the rare word, the one phrase that I want said, that I can not find, that I certainly have not the hope ever to say myself. 1 It will show you how much in love I am with the city if I tell you that I came with the intention of staying a fortnight, and that I will have stayed four weeks when I shall leave it. Venice to me is above all things the Piazza and

26


the molo with buildings on them, and the view from them. These seem to me to form an indissoluble unity, made by time and tide, and the spirit of a people in a way that of course no merely individual genius could ever invent. Sometimes when I stop to consider details, or single buildings of this group, my satisfaction is not complete. I see faults, fantastic designs, barbarous ornamentations: yet would I not have a square inch of surface on the Doge's palace, or St. Mark's changed. One soon forgets to think of form here, going almost mad on color, thinking in color, talking color, almost living on color. And for one that enjoys color this certainly is paradise. 2 No matter what the sky or the point of view, there is always something to delight one's eyes. During my first week the harvest moon still shone most beautifully over St. Mark's. Now we shall have another moon shining on it, and you know what a spectacle, rich, fantastic, fairy-like the whole Piazza is on a moon-lit evening. My previous year abroad led me to believe that the most delightful school of painting was the Venetian. And here I find nothing to change my view. To be sure of the kind that I most enjoy, sheer genre, there is not so very much here, but enough to make me happy with gazing at them several hours each day. A very funny idea came to me the other day as I was looking at Bonifazio's Rich Man's Repast: that a whole class of pictures, the class that I care most for, might be called Picnic pictures. These always represent a group of people in the open air under beautiful skies surrounded by lovely landscape, engaged in delightful amusements. The prince of these painters of course is Giorgione, whose Concert in Paris is a charming example of this kind; but even better must be the Family in the Palazzo Giovanelli which I fear I shall not see. Then the Bonifazios could do nothing else. They were always painting these picnics. The one here, the Rich Man's Repast is a more formal one; but the three pictures by them, all representing the Finding of Moses, one in Dresden, one in the Academy at Vienna,. one in the Brera at Milan, are bewitching[? J picnic pictures. These all have a group of cavaliers and ladies, exquisitely dressed, who lie on the grass music-making and conversing while the little Moses is brought up to them. Even when they paint Holy Families with Saints the Bonifazios always paint them as picnic scenes ending up in a tableau-vivant. Indeed there is nothing new in my notion. These pictures have always been called Sante Conversazioni. Titian too has painted any number of this kind; almost all his smaller Madonnas, with the lovely orange sunsets, and the palm-branches, and leaves many of which are in the northern galleries. Then his Bacchus and Ariadne of the National Gallery is such a picture par excellence. And would you believe it the two masterpieces of Northern art are also picnic pictures: the Adoration of the Lamb of the van Eycks at Ghent, which is nothing but a most charming landscape with all kinds of delightful and courtly people gathering in it. And such is also that picture in the Munich gallery by Memling called the Seven Joys of Mary the chief business of which is to depict most exquisitely the long and delightful picnic of the 27


three wise n1en of the East. But here I shall begin to shock you, tho' the only shocking thing in my idea is the word "picnic" which we naturally do not connect with anything very exalted. On the other hand you will grant that "picnic pictures" is just the appellation for the best and finest of the paintings of that loveliest of all painters not Italian, I mean Watteau. What a charming picnic his Departure for Cythera in the Salon Carre of the Louvre is! and so are all those in Berlin, and Potsdam. You see what I mean. This rather too American designation of "pictures of picnics" does group paintings in a certain way which throws not a little light on them.- It will be harder than I can tell to leave Venice, which is just the city to haunt one for ever and ever. But leave I must in a week, for on the 21st I leave from Brindisi for Corfu, and I want to see several things on the way, especially the palace at Urbino. My stay in Greece will be short, still a glimpse will be better than nothing, and thence I shall go straight to Sicily to which I look forward with even more pleasure than to Greece; for Sicily has been the subject of all kinds of influences that interest me, and from what I hear even the Greek remains in Sicily are quite as beautiful as those of Greece.I hope you got a short letter I addressed to you from Parma, to the steamer that was to take you across. I can not envy your being home; but a sight of the sea from the North Shore, of our October foliage, and a climb to the top of Blue Hill would be delightful indeed. Address Baring Bros. always. Sincerely Yours, Bernhard Berenson Âť r. Venetian Life (1866) by William Dean Howells. He was American consul in Venice, 1861-

65. Âť2. He later claimed in The Passionate Sightseer (1960) to have discovered the joys of Venice as a city only in old age.

Dear l\1rs. Gardner,

Naples, November the 28th, 1888

My journeyings in Sicily were so brief, and the days therefore so crowded that writing was out of the question. Besides, my vocabulary would have been utterly impotent to express my impression there and then- so varied, so rich were they. I know now where to go for peace and quiet. It is to Taormina. What might not one do there! or rather how foolish to do anything if one could live there for ever, sit on the rim of the theater, and gaze through the ruins of its proscenium, at Etna, and the blue Sicilian sea. Never was I so reluctant to leave a place. Perhaps my many, and comfortless wanderings in Greece make Taormina seem more than it is, but certainly it is uniquely, grandly, and yet charmingly beautiful. The fine theater, the coast way below with is shapely promontories, and crescent beaches, Etna with its lurid glow at twilight, and dawn, the golden orange gardens, the quaint little town with its cathedral almost early English in style-all these make up a whole that is not easily surpassed. But we left it after two days for Syracuse. There for two days more we tramped ten hours a day over the

28


ruins of the ancient city. The mere vastness of the site overawed us. One might hide Athens in one of the larger quarries that are so curious a feature of this town, with their wildly luxuriant tropical vegetation. Of course we made the excursions to the sources of the K yanus, a spring fifty fathoms deep, a glorious sea garden, full of placid, philosophic fishes, and on the surface all surrounded by a forest of papyrus, over which we nearly went wild. Can anything be more graceful than the droop of the papyrus stalk, more graceful than the poise of its tuft! From Syracuse it took us thirteen hours to get to Girgenti [now Agrigento], by the fastest train. And Girgenti seemed even more delightful than the other places. The modern town is so picturesquely perched on the hills from which one has magnificent views of the turquoise African sea. The temples are well preserved, but delighted me especially with the color of their stone which is spotted with garnet, and stained with olive green. Four days at Palermo ended my Sicilian journey. They were delightful. It would take a poet of the richest genius to sing the praises of Palermo, and he'd have to do it in Arabic, for no other language has a vocabulary rich and varied enough. Indeed it is the trace the Arab has left in Palermo, that helps to make it what it is to me. Fancy an orange garden, all deep green and gold, hedged in by a crescent of beautifully serrated mountains, and facing the sea, and embowered in this garden a splendid city containing in or near it such gorgeous churches as the Palatina, or Monreale, which within are one mass of glowing, somberly magnificent mosaic. 1 One really can not form a fancy too splendid. It was quite hot while we were at Palermo. Even in the evening one could not walk fast. And what evenings we had, strolling along the Marina under the full moon which flooded the plain with its greenish light, made the mountains stand out as clean cut as cameos, and the sea yearn towards it. Then the air was full of delicious fragrance of which the orange, and the lemon, and eriobotrya formed only a part. I doubt not all this may sound common place, but to me it was simply intoxicating. Most of my time I spent at the Palatina. It is a tiny chapel, a St. Mark's distilled down to its finest and intensest essence. And Monreale is only a larger edition of the Palatina. Never did I dream of anything so gorgeous as these interiors. The mosaics of St. Mark's seem very crude beside these-which, for my part, I thought them anyway. In the interior of Monreale one does not know what to admire most, the absolute perfection of the architectural schemes, the glory of the mosaics, and the royal seat, or the marble panelling. And just outside are cloisters upheld on double columns of white marble, each capital sculptured differently, each shaft with different decoration of the chisel or mosaic. And in one corner is a pavilion, square, and upheld on like columns, and in the centre of this, a tall carved fountain which splashes all day in the basin below, and makes you think you are in a palace court of Harun el-Rashid. 2 The museum too is full of lovely things. The three that have most strongly fixed themselves in my memory, are the metopes from Selinunto, a marble,

29


legible[?] arabesque of inlaid porphyry and verde antico, and a Flemish triptych of a workmanship so fine that it makes the daintiest miniature seem coarse. It almost broke my heart to leave Sicily, after so brief a flight, but it had to be done, having Rome, and Florence still before me. Here I am at present hard at work in the museum which is one of the very richest and most satisfactory of my acquaintance. I find it so full of beautiful things that I only seem to have entered when it is time to go away. So I shall stay here a fortnight more, and then go to Rome. In Greece it was the severity and simplicity of the landscape that made the greatest impression upon me. It is compared to other landscapes just what the best Greek sculpture is to the other, and especially modern figurative arts. To think that to-morrow is Thanksgiving, and that the thermometer was 5 5 early this morning, and that I can see the oranges hanging on the trees, from my window. It is all new, and strange. If you have time you should read Zola's Le Reve. It is a wonderful, and beautiful thing. Sincerely, Bernhard Berenson Âť r. Mosaics from the Norman period in Sicily include the great cycles of Cefalu Cathedral,

the Cappella Palatina and the Martorana in Palermo, and the cathedral at Monreale. Âť2. Harun al-Rashid (163 / 6?-809) was proclaimed caliph of the court of Abbasid in 786; his court became legendary because of The Arabian Nights, but his reign was not a success.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

24 Piazza S. Spirito Florence, April the 28th, '89

I beat my breast and cry mea culpa because I have been so long declaring my sympathy for your loss-of my scrawl on the mosaics of Cefalu. But I got your letter as I was leaving Rome-not "in silence" but almost "in tears." Then for a fortnight I bummelled-it's the only word, pardon the Teutonism-about and since I came here, the thousand nothings of the hours have driven every capacity for writing out of me. Still busy as I am here je n'ose pas me demander si je m'amuse, but s'amuser is after all not life, at least for Anglo-Saxons. People here are so very nice, clever polyglottic, but somehow not entertaining, and frightfully "unmaking things." Ouida almost won me, but the second call so irritated me that I left disgusted. 1 Vernon Lee not only looked at me thro' the wrong end of a telescope, but what is even more disagreeable almost succeeded in making me regard myself quite in the same way. 2 Then of the celebrities there is another, Miss C. Fenimore Woolson who seems to take to me, tho' she never gives me a chance to say a word. 3 All this is a sudden change from the utterly matchless set of clever fellow I had in Rome. Of course sights occupy me a great deal, and I really

30


study the pictures carefully and minutely but one can not be studying pictures all the time, so I read, and read a great deal pour me desennuyer I confess. To do that however a book must have merit of a certain kind. Dante, Shakespeare, Browning, Stendhal, de Brosses, Maupassant, and even Meredith have been beguiling me. You I hope are not of the congregation of the last. He's such a crude, paleolithic artist. The penultimate on the contrary I'm sure you must adore. I do, at any rate. The exquisite art d'affieurer les choses, and not to crush them, his point of view, has pellucid style all charm me as neither poppy, nor hashish, nor all the syrup of the fabled East. Read his Sur l'eau if you have not to see what a man of to-day, or to be precise, of to-morrow, thinks of war, society, and things in general. He has all those disgusts that I have, and have never seen expressed. Then such clever sketches in his Main Gauche, so simple, so cruel, so true. 4 Stendhal too is one of the great. The more I read him, the more am I convinced that the author of La Guerre et la Paix and of Anna Karenina never would have written as he has, but for La Chartreuse de Parme, and Rouge et Nair. Who but Stendhal in 1830 would have thought of making a prisoner condemned to death notice with delight the sculptured capitals of his dungeon! But Dante holds his own among all these. I read him with my morning coffee, and he seems quite as fresh, and reviving as the morning. The loveliness of whole cantos of the Purgatorio, of certain passages hackneyed tho' they be of the Inferno, of others in the Paradiso! Browning too, he is the Michelangelo of contemporary literature-not always clear, not always a sense of the fitness of things, but what vigor, what energy, what versatility! And Shakespeare of course. Do you know that the precise parallel to the Shakespeare of Midsummer Night's Dream and of As You Like It is the Venetian school of painting, Bonifazio with his learning and beautiful music-making women, and courtly men, Titian as you see him in the Bacchus and Ariadne, Giorgione as you dream of him. There was an early death that art must for ever mourn. Compared to that what is the loss of Keats to literature? You recall of course the Ordeal of Moses in the Uffizi. Is it not just what The Tempest is in poetry, the fine fantasy, the fairy touch, the knightly tone? Yesterday was some festa, and in the pitch black evening they illuminated the Palazzo Vecchio, every sharp edge of the tower. It looked as if it were all of molten fire. Un vero gioiello said the waiter of the cafe. From the Oltr-Arno it looked like a tower in the city of Dis [Hades J. A friend has quite surprised me with an offer of enough money to keep me abroad another year. 5 I shall go home at last with the feeling I fear of one who after living in Rome for three years of our second century was returning to his home in Colonia. I shall make the best of it howe' er. What I shall do I do not know, almost anything for a living, writing, or teaching as a pis aller. I shall be quite quite picture wise then, not unlearned in the arts, perhaps they will enable me to turn an honest penny. But all these

31


nightmare thoughts can be delayed another year. Meanwhile I intend lingering in Italy till August, to go to Spain in the autumn, and then to London till midsummer. I suppose that you will not come abroad this summer. Remember that I look forward to going thro' some gallery of paintings with you. And after all which can compare with the National Gallery, where I hope to have more than one hour with you in the spring of '90. In writing do repay me good for evil. Sincerely, B.M.B.B. » l . Ouida was the pseudonym of Marie-Louise de la Ramee (1839-1908), French author of romances and children's stories. »2. Vernon Lee was the pseudonym for Violet Paget (18 561935), English essayist and art critic. »3. Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840-94), American writer and grandniece of James Fenimore Cooper. »4. Guy de Maupassant (1850-93) wrote, among other works, Sur l'eau (1888) and La Main gauche (1889). »5 . The friend was Ned Warren, who had placed BB on retainer for several years to find works of art that he would offer in America. Since his father had recently died, Warren was able to provide not only for BB but also for his proteges at Lewes House.

32


II

1894-1900

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indication that Berenson was aware that Mrs. Gardner was buying old masters when he sent her his first book in r 894. The accompanying letter sought to overcome whatever bad reputation his "missing years" may have created in Boston. A second letter reinforced his command of the field of Italian Renaissance painting. With Mrs. Gardner's arrival in Europe for a six-month stay, their correspondence was supplanted by several meetings that resulted in the purchase of Botticelli's Tragedy of Lucretia, proposed when she arrived and accepted in December before she sailed. It was the beginning of their collaboration, and very soon his income depended on paintings she acquired through him. In Berenson's first years abroad he lived mainly on promise, supported by various friends, and sometimes acting as a guide in picture galleries, giving a lecture, or assisting Ned Warren in his search for art objects. In r 893 he began the practice of advising collectors, in particular Theodore Davis of Newport. His future wife, Mary, who brought an allowance and later an income of three hundred pounds per year, also brought the determination to convert his research into a steady flow of cash. By selling what they wrote, the Berensons established themselves as connoisseurs and received some monetary return, although it was little compared with commissions on the sale of paintings. Besides his confidence in his "eye"-only once does he admit to an error-there is in Berenson's letters of this period a newfound savoir faire. This developed, one suspects, from his association with Mary's family and the circle that met at their country house in England. Perhaps a greater influence was Carlo Placci, the son of an Italian banker and a Spanish-Mexican mother. Four years Berenson's senior, Placci became his good friend in r 894 and soon introduced him into fashionable society in Florence. When IS NO

35


his doctor advised him to take a rest cure in the mountains, Berenson followed Placci to Saint Moritz. Here he found himself absorbed "into a sophisticated, cosmopolitan society and discovered that he liked it. Placci charmed his friends with compliments, behavior at first repugnant to the younger man, but Berenson quickly learned that it was expected. Berenson had been dutifully appreciative in his first letters to Mrs. Gardner. Thereafter his youthful confessions and efforts to impress became artful flattery. In one sense it was easy to do. He liked her and wanted to count on her both as a friend and as a solid link to the city that for years he referred to as home. But what started as a pleasant working relationship soon developed difficulties. Buying rare books and contemporary paintings had not prepared Mrs. Gardner for the larger forces that batter the collector of old masters. Mrs. Gardner vacillated between prudence and extravagance, Berenson between ecstasy and depression-his discomfort as broker, commission-taker, and salesman reluctantly accepted as a necessary way of life. Mary was more practical about money matters and constantly worried that her daughters by her first husband, now living with her mother, would not have enough money. Behind most of the big purchases during this period was the London firm of P. & D. Colnaghi and Co. Although it might be said that he was their agent, Berenson remained independent in his relations with the trade, and his references in the letters to "my agents" often in fact mean Colnaghi. The moment of greatest strain with Mrs. Gardner came when the price of certain pictures became known in Boston and didn't tally with the higher price quoted by Berenson, inflated to include a profit for the firm of Colnaghi and for himself. (The reader will find most, but not all, of this in the letters.) From the beginning Mrs. Gardner paid him a modest 5 percent commission, so that Berenson was not adverse to letting Colnaghi suggest a price that included something more. On occasion Berenson actually had an investment in the work of art, and these financial arrangements were unknown to Mrs. Gardner. The questions she and Mr. Gardner raised about the discrepancies upset him badly. 1 He saw his reputation and income in jeopardy. Mary counseled him to explain that certain payments were necessary in order to get first refusal on works of art. When Mr. Gardner died suddenly in December r 898, Mrs. Gardner preferred to blame the whole thing on Colnaghi and Co., insisting she would never again do business with them. Berenson w ent on as though nothing had happened and continued working w ith the firm. His letters demonstrate a new confidence, while Mrs. Gardner's reflect the strain from the loss of her husband's guiding hand and finances. Then a trip abroad in r 899 and buying for the m useum, followed by 1.

Mary's diary entry for 23 June 1898: "Business complications with Mrs. Gardner-Bernard was simply awfully worried and felt at times almost suicidal."


three years of construction, galvanized Mrs. Gardner's remarkable energies. Other friends rallied around, offering to help with her collection, among them Boston painter Joseph Lindon Smith, Professor Norton's son Richard, and John Singer Sargent. Despite high building costs, her purchases continued at a steady pace until after the museum's opening. Confronted with what she had spent and anxious to endow her creation, she began a period of great frugality. Life in Florence changed suddenly for Berenson when Mary's husband died in r 899. After the customary year of mourning, they were married and moved into Villa I Tatti, which remained their home for the rest of their lives. They announced their engagement to Mrs. Gardner in 1900 and the description of the wedding is the first letter in Part III.

37


24 Lungarno Acciajuoli Florence March II, I894

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

I venture to recall myself to your memory apropos of a little book on the Venetian painters which I have asked my publisher to send you. 1 Your kindness to me at a critical moment is something I have never forgotten, and if I have let five years go by without writing to you, it has been because I have h~d nothing to show that could change the opinion you must have had of me at the moment when you put a stop to our correspondence. The little book I now send is one for which I can count on more credit from you than from most people. You have travelled as few; and seen pictures with your own eyes; and I know you will understand the effort of one who has condensed into the smallest possible space a personally appreciative account of a fascinating school of painting. I promise myself the pleasure of sending you two or three other books in the course of the next two years; and if they succeed in reviving some of the interest you once took in me, I shall have had my reward. Sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson Âť r. The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance (New York and London, 1894).

I

Dear Mr. Berenson

52, Beacon Street March I5, I894

I have just got back from a visit to the South and I find, as a welcome, The Venetian Painters, a pretty little book; and I am glad to see it is by you, and that you send it, to me. I write immediately to thank you for the remembrance, and to hope that, if we go to Europe this summer, I may see you and talk over the book, the painters, and in fact many things-I have heard nothing of you for a long time which was bad of you!1 And even now I do not know your address, 2 so this goes to you through the publisher. Let me hear from you and believe me Sincerely yours Isabella S. Gardner Âť r. From BB's preceding letter one assumes that ISG had stopped the correspondence, al-

though she now makes it sound as though it had been his fault. before she received the letter.

Âť2 .

ISG received the book

I3 North St. Westminster

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

London S.W July 6, '94

I am so very sorry that I missed you in Paris which I left Tuesday morning. I have but now received your note, and I hasten to write to tell you that at Sedelmeyer's, 1 4 rue de la Rochefoucauld there is a splendid exhibition of


English pictures, Turner, Constable, Sir Joshua [Reynolds], and Gainsborough. In the Salon Carre of the Louvre, as a pendant to Antonello da Messina's Condottiere hangs a portrait of a lady by Pisanello-a delightful thing by a great and rare master, recently acquired. Hope to have the pleasure of seeing you very soon, believe me Sincerely Yours, Bernhard Berenson » r. Sedelmeyer was a Paris art dealer.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

13 North St. Westminster London, Aug. r, r 894

I received the photographs to-day, and thank you for them. The portrait is by Bonsignori in spite of Paris expert. I should like, by the way, to know who the experts are, so ignorant of paleography as to think for an instant the signature can be genuine. I would like to "pitch into them" and prove them to be what they are. In my forthcoming book I discuss the authorship of this portrait, and try to prove that it is by Bonsignori. 1 I think my proof will be found satisfactory by the few other people entitled to judge on the matter. But all this does not in the least detract from the real value of the picture, which is great. As to the Francia it is charming, but judging from the photograph I should say it was too unsteady in line, and too soft for Francesco. In the saint on the right I seem to recognize the hand of his son Giacomo. I dare say the work is of the atelier; that Francesco had a hand in it but not the largest. Its outside price should not exceed £r 50. 2 How much do you want a Botticelli? Lord Ashburnham has a great one-one of the greatest: a Death of Lucretia, a cassone picture to rival the Calumny of the Uffizi. I understand that, although the noble lord is not keen about selling it, a handsome offer would not insult him. I should think it would have to be about £3, ooo. 3 If you cared about it, I could, I dare say, help you in getting the best terms. It would be a pleasure to me to be able in some sort to repay you for your kindness on an occasion when I needed help. Hoping your baths are not so much a bore as you expected, 4 believe me Sincerely Yours, Bernhard Berenson » r. The picture, Portrait Bust of a Gonzaga by Bonsignori, was treated in BB's book Lorenzo

Lotto: An Essay in Constructive Art Criticism (London, 1894), p. 54. It then belonged to Prince Maffeo Sciarra of Paris, who had been jailed and fined for smuggling his collection out of Rome. BB later decided it was a copy, but the painting carries his original attribution in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., where it now hangs. »2. The painting, unidentified, was not bought by ISG. »3. Botticelli's Tragedy of Lucretia, not a cassone panel but an architectural element, was purchased on BB's recommendation in December r 894 from the collection of the earl of Ashburnham. Although ISG had bought several pictures before this,

39


she had never paid this much, and it marked a turning point in her collecting. »4. ISG went to Langen-Schwalbach, Germany, for the baths between 28 July and 8 August l 894.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole Florence, May 8, 1895

I fear you have forgotten to send me the photograph of your portrait by Sargent. 1 You must know that I very much count on having it. I send you a photograph of the Clouet2 in the same collection with the Frans Hals. 3 It is but little larger than the photograph. It has, it is true, been rubbed in the cleaning, but is a genuine Clouet-and genuine Clouets are rare-and the price I could get it for-8,ooo lire-is absurdly cheap. Have you read Huysmans's En Route? 4 Il Jaut le lire. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson » r. John Singer Sargent's portrait of ISG was done in late fall l 887, after BB had left for Italy. »2. ISG purchased The Dauphin Fran.rois, after Corneille de Lyon, on 22 May 1895 from the Bonomi-Cereda Collection, Milan, as the work ofFranc;ois Clouet. »3. Frans Hals's portrait Man Holding a Branch was in the Bonomi-Cereda Collection. After passing through many hands, it was acquired by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, in 1969. »4. Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848-1907), French novelist. In En Route (1895), the hero returns to the Roman Catholic Church during a retreat at a Trappist monastery.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole Florence May 12, 1895

The address of the Cereda collection where the Clouet and the Hals are is 7 Piazza Oriani Milan. Ask for the custode. If you decide to take them, please let me know directly. By the way, have the pictures taken down from the wall, to look at. At Bergamo you should see the Lottos in S. Bartolommeo, and S. Bernardino. In S. Maria Maggiore, the intarsias, after designs by Lotto, particularly the front ones (get the sacristan to open them), and those within the choir in the first corner on the left. Attached to S. Maria is the Colleoni chapel, wherein splendid Tiepolos in vaulting. In the Gallery, the Lottos. In the Lochis section, Raphael's St. Sebastian, a Madonna by Crivelli, an admirable one by Bergognone attributed to Zenale, a fascinating one by Tura, a fine little St. Sebastian by Antonello da Messina, a number of excellent Carianis particularly the portrait of B. Caravaggio, and a picture representing a woman playing and a man, almost nude, asleep. In the Carrara section Moronis, a fine portrait of a woman by Cariani, a Madonna by Mantegna, a little Crucifixion by Foppa, a Christ at Emmaus by Catena. In the Morelli section, a portrait of Lionello d'Este by Pisanello, three Botticellis, two Bellini Madonnas, portrait of a lady by Cavazzuolo, the Pesellinos, a most beautiful Evangelist of the Tuscan school, a

40


Madonna by Francesco Morone, an Evangelist by Dai Libri, a portrait by Romanino, and a very "impressionistic" one by Longhi. The finest Moroni in the world belongs to Conte Moroni. He has other pictures as well. I am writing now to Signor Giov. Piccinelli, via Massone, Bergamo, to tell him about you. If you will write him the day and hour you could call to see him, he will show you his own collection-two fine Lottos-and take you to Count Moroni's. Having seen the latter collection tell me whether in your opinion there is a more distinguished, and more refined, as well as more genial portrait in the. world than Moroni's Man in Black. You will see it was not by any means Whistler who invented tone. The Albergo Italia at Bergamo is tolerable, but no more. Many thanks for the photograph of your portrait. It is a great work of art, but could my hand follow my brain my portrait of you would be greater. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole Florence, July lo, l 89 5

I am dreadfully afraid of being indiscreet in a suggestion I wish to make, and pray forgive me if I am. I am so very anxious to have you own the Bellini that I am sure I could arrange for you to take it, and pay for it at any time you would fix. 1 I can understand that this may possibly be repugnant to you, but I have sufficient confidence in the value of the picture and in the pleasure it will give you to venture upon the suggestion. If by any chance this meets with your approval please let me know. It is very good of you to have the Catena and Bonifazio photographed. 2 I would be very grateful for copies-unmounted. Should you, perchance, want to see the Bellini, I enclose a card to Mrs. Richter, who will show it you at any time that you will specify. I am busy writing my small book on the Florentines which I hope you will have the patience to peruse. It will be published in the autumn. Ever Yours Bernhard Berenson Giovanni Bellini's Madonna Adoring the Sleeping Child was bought by copper magnate Theodore Davis (d. 1915) of Newport, R.I., and was left in 1915 to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with the bulk of his collection . Âť2. BB had purchased Catena's Delivery of the Keys to Saint Peter and Bonifazio Veronese's Sacra Conversazione from Dr. Jean-Paul Richter ( l 84 7-193 7), art historian, collector, and follower of Morellian connoisseurship . Âťl .

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Address: Baring Bros. London Berlin, Aug. l, 1895

I have for some time been wanting to write to thank you for the perfectly charming note you sent me before sailing. Why have we not all, at least a 41


bit of your genius for charming? It would make life so much easier! Well, I come again trying to despoil you. This time it is a Tintoretto I wish you to buy, a delightful, golden coloured portrait of the Florentine poet and grammarian Varchi. At Vienna there is a portrait of him by Titian, but while the latter is more direct, this is more refined in feeling, and brilliant in tone. 1 [The rest of the letter is missing.] Âť l. Probably the Tintoretto Portrait of a Man bought by Theodore Davis in l 895 as by Sebas-

tiano del Piombo. Now catalogued as the work of Jacopino del Conte, the painting was given to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1915 and was sold at Parke-Bernet, New York, in 1973.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Paris, Sept.

20,

r 89 5

Alas! Your letter comes too late, and what grieves me more is the fact that had it been posted on the 26th of August when you wrote it, instead of Sept. ro as I note by the post-mark, there would still have been a chance of getting the Tintoretto. For a fortnight it has been sold. I can not tell you how sorry I am, but I can do no more than return the cheque, and assure that I shall be more keenly than ever on the lookout for a good picture to replace this loss. Of all the people I know anything about, you are the most enviable; yet perhaps even you would envy all the pleasure I have extracted from music, the arts, nature, and a few people in the last two months. I dreaded losing the enchanting glamour in which I walked until recently; but I find my resonance to beauty increasing at a rate to make up for everything. With the best wishes, Devotedly Bernhard Berenson

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus. Fiesole Florence, Nov. 17, 1895

To my great regret I learned yesterday that the Giottino Crucifixion I wrote you of has already been sold. 1 I trust you will not believe that I write to you of pictures only when it is too late. The truth is I write of some that are so desirable that they disappear quickly. The scene has changed since my last note. I now see flashing peaks of fretted silver rising over the sea of opaline mists which covers the base of the Apennines. But at the same time the medlar is in its intoxicating bloom just outside my windows; below me the terrace is covered with crysanthemums; and I came across a bed of cyclamen yesterday on a mossy hill facing the bleak north. I am slaving just at present on another article for the Gazette des Beaux42


Arts, which will prove that the most famous Perugino in the world, the Caen Sposalizio, which Raphael has been always accused of having copied slavishly, was not painted by Perugino at all, but by Lo Spagna in imitation of Raphael's. 2 I am wickedly amused at the havoc this will make among the learned. Yours ever B.B. · » r . The Giottino C ru cifix ion has not been identified .

»2.

"Le ' Sposalizio' du Musee de

Caen," Gazette des Beau x -Arts 38 (1896): 273- 90.

Dear Mr. Berenson

Brookline nowbut in a week l 52 Beacon Street Boston Deeb 2 [1895]

Your two letters have come. I thank you very much for keeping me in your mind. I should only like to say first that in future and for all time, please don't let me and some one else know of the same picture at the same time. It may be only a prejudice of mine-but it is disagreeable to me to be put en concurrence in these things. So if you want to get pictures first for any one else, do so; and after that is all settled, have me in mind another time, when I am to be first-and wait until you hear from me before passing on the chance. Now I have said my disagreeable little Say, and I hope that you will be amenable and gentle vvith my "prejudice." The Guardi seems a beauty indeed. But it is too dear for me. I mean, I don't want to give so much money for that kind of picture. 1 The other one I will take with pleasure. I mean the Giottino. Mr. Gardner will send for me the Francs 3, 500 . I have had very bad luck with a Moroni, which arrived with a hole through the man's heart 6 inches in diameter. 2 My foremost desire always is for a Filippino Lippi; and a Velasquez very good-and Tintoretto. Only very good need apply! How charming France sounded through your pen. Here it is a warm wet December so far-but the trees are leafless and look like smoke, and are beautiful in their way-very. Believe me Sincerely yours Isabella» r. BB's letter proposing the Guardi is evidently lost. The painting Veni ce across the Basin of

San Marco was purchased through the London art dealers P. & D . Colnaghi and Co ., who were » 2. ISG purchased A Bearded Man in Black by responsible for a number of ISG's pictures. Giovanni Battista Moroni from the Galleria Sangiorgi, Rome, in September I 89 5.

Dear Mr. Berenson

Deeb 3 [1895]

Here is the cheque for the Giottino. And on second thought I will also yield and have the Guardi because I like it much. Mr. Gardner thinks it is very dear and wants to know if it cannot be had cheaper. In a day or two I will 43


send a cheque for that and your commissions. But of course, if you can get it cheaper, do. Hastily yours Isabella-

Dear Mr. Berenson

Brookline Deeb 4 [1895]

Here are the other cheques. That is, the one for the commission (5 °/o) on the Giottino-and the one for the Guardi, with its commission. I hope they are all right. Can you get for me and send to r 52 Beacon Street by post the D' Annunzio Vergini delle Rocce .1 It can't be had here. I am sorry to trouble you; but I am always doing that! Sincerely yours Isabella S. Gardner Gabriele D'Annunzio (1863-1938), Italian author and military hero, published Le vergini delle rocce, a romance, in l 896. I.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole Florence, Dec. r 4, I 89 5

Yes, I promise never to propose a picture to you at the same time that I am proposing it to someone else. But please believe that with the Giottino, at least, the case was not such. It was simply out of my reach before I knew it. I beg you to believe for the future that when such an accident does happen, it is not thro' fault of mine. Unless I take a picture over I can not of course prevent its being sold. I regret to hear of the damage incurred by a Moroni you have bought. I should very much like to know more about it-also if it satisfies you quite as a Moroni. I ask this because "unbeknownst to you" j'ai ambitionne to get for you some day one of the two or three Moronis that really are supreme. For this reason, by the way-my desire to get for you only the very best possible-I did not urge you to purchase a truly excellent Moroni which has gone to the Boston art gallery. 1 As for Tintoretto, I solemnly promise to get you one in every way far surpassing the delightful one you missed. I am looking everywhere for a Filippino and almost every other day I have things suggested or sent to me that are charming and nice, and "somewhere about there," but never yet, altho' many things are sworn to;be Filippino, has a picture really by the master appeared. However, at least je suis sur la piste; and if it comes to anything you shall hear thereof directly. But you could not ask for a greater rarity. The Velasquez I shall also look out for. Now, dear Lady, having given you my promise never to put you in concurrence with anyone else, I humbly request you to let me know directly when any of the wishes you have expressed me, have been satisfied by others. 44


By the way, please let me know whether the Tintoretto must be a portrait. I am agreed with you about the Guardi. It is dear, altho' not as prices go, but it is a beauty. And does Bellini not tempt you? I know of such a loveable Madonnanot Richter's , -another and the last remaining to be sold, -if it indeed is to be had at all. 2 With best wishes for a Happy New Year Ever sincerely Yours Bernhard Berenson C ount Alborghetti and His Son , was sold b y C olnaghi through BB. This Madonna by Bellini has not been identified.

» 1 . Moroni 's portrait, » 2.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole Florence, Dec. r8, 1895

Brava! a hundred times brava! I can not tell you how happy it makes me to think of your possessing that most glorious of all Guardis. I have already confessed that it is by no means cheap. But it is not to be had for less. I need not remind you of the toll the great English nobility insist on taking upon the pictures to which they give their illustrious pedigree. I have received the cheque for £r , 575-for the Guardi, and my commission thereon. Also, alas! the cheque for the Giottino, which I return. I am sending you D' Annunzio's Vergini and also his Allegoria dell ' autunno .1 If you permit me to advise you in art-matters as you have for a year past, it will not be many years before you possess a collection almost unrivalledof masterpieces, and masterpieces only. Ever Yours Bernhard B erenson » r. "L'allegoria dell' autunno ," an hom age to Venice, was published in 1895.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole Florence, Jan. 4, r 896

Directly after receiving your letter telling m e you would tak e the G u ardi, I telegraphed for it. To m y horror, I received the answer that owing to my h aving strongly p ro tes ted against the price, they h ad not felt b oun d to me, and h ad j u st sold the picture, to ano ther. T h ereupon began a correspondence b y wire and post, w hich ends fin ally in a promise that every effort will b e mad e to get th e picture b ack . For reasons to me unknown the thing can not be decided b efore the end of the month. Now, while I hope you still will have the picture, I must beg you to be p repared to be disappointed. I assure you that I have done, and still am doing my level best. To console 45


you, let me tell you that while to my knowledge there is no finer Guardi than this in existence, I believe that there are one or two others as good which may perhaps be got hold of. And now, I want to propose to you one of the most precious of works of art. It is a Madonna by Giovanni Bellini, painted in his youth, after his wife, as I have every reason to believe. What it is in expression, grouping, and composition the photograph I am sending will tell you. But its colour is something unequalled even among Bellini's works. It is so clear, fresh and pure. As to the condition the panel is in-it is simply perfect. Well, when I proposed Richter's Bellini last autumn I mentioned this one as the only other likely to be for sale in our days, but I had no idea that it was to be had soon. It belongs to a man of taste and means, and hitherto my diplomatic questions as to his parting with it were met with diplomatic silence. But returning to the attack this autumn, altho' I have received no definite, committing answer, I have every reason to believe that he will part with it for a sum no less ÂŁ1,350. (Thirteen hundred and fifty pounds). It behoves you therefore to make up your mind. I know few pictures which at the same time have the prestige, and value of a_great master's masterpiece attaching to them as to this, while having at the same time such an intimate, homely, tender charm. Besides, I permit myself a dream of what your collection shall be-and therein Bellini must have his place. And for a great work by him, or a genuine one at all, this is positively the last chance, as Mr. Davis has bought Richter's. I send a photograph of the latter also so that you may compare the two. In closing, let me beg you to believe that my interest in all these matters is just a little more than commercial. Ever Yours, Bernhard Berenson If you decide to take the Bellini, please cable:- "Berenson, Fiesole, Florence, Bellini." If you have no answer it means that it cannot be managed. If I cable back "yes," then send the cheque. B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Fiesole, Jan. 9, r 896

The gentleman who owns the Bellini of which I wrote a few days ago has just written to me that he will not part with it for less than ÂŁ2, 500! Yours in greatest haste B. Berenson

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole, Florence January the 19th, 1896

Your charming note of the 7th comes to cheer me. Let me say at once that I can not tell you definitely whether the Guardi is yours-but be assured that every effort is being made.


I would, dear Friend, I could despatch of this golden weather that I am basking in copious whiffs to you. You have it sunny, I make no doubt, in Boston; but it is more than sunny here. The mildness of the changeless spring, the sweet odours of the Happy Island, the radiance of summer land is here this winter. I spend all the afternoons wandering about, "an embodied joy" surely sharing more than my mere share of mortal happiness. I have missed D' Annunzio for the moment. I was invited to dine with him and could not go. Then he was coming up here to spend the day, and suddenly he was called away to Prato to the sick bed of his child. But I shall meet him later. Yes, his prose is music; yet since reading the Vergini I have read again The Scarlet Letter-and that seems infinitely superior even as prose. The Scarlet Letter, detached from the dull and indifferently written introduction, pruned and keyed up so as to be kept in perfect tone would be perhaps the very greatest bit of prose fiction in existence. And now I must turn to matters not less delightful altho' smacking of affairs. Directly after writing to you about the Bellini I wrote to its owner offering to take it from him for £r, 3 50. (I felt sure another friend would take it at that price if you did not.) But he answered rather indignantly that again and again he had refused £2,000, and £2, 300, and that he would take no less than £2, 500. He reminded me also that less than two years ago I myself had strongly urged him not to part with it for less than £2, 500. So that is how the matter stands. The fault is mine, and I am sorry because it seems to spoil my right to urge you to take a picure at almost double the price I first proposed. Yet I do urge you; for in my Platonic idea of your gallery 1 a Bellini there must be, and there never will be such another to be had. Besides, sincerely, if I had the choice among all Bellini's existing Madonnas I am not sure but I should choose that very one. However, unless the owner gets from other quarters an offer of more than £2, 500-always likely-the picture will abide your leisurely decision. Now I come to the special point of this letter. I am sending you a photograph of one of the most precious pictures in existence, which if not sold by Feb. r 8 goes to the National Gallery. Owing to a number of fortunate accidents I am in a position to offer you the chance of buying it. The picture in question not only is one of Rembrandt's very earliest pictures but the earliest portrait of himself, executed as the date indicates in 1629, when Rembrandt was 22. On the back of the photograph you will find all the indications. It will be reproduced in Bode's great work on Rembrandt. 2 The condition is perfect, and the colours light and delicate of that greyish green prevalent in all genuine early Rembrandts. The touch is exquisitely pure and light. This masterpiece you can have for the comparatively small sum of £3,000 (Three thousand pounds). I shall say no more to urge you but beg you to cable to me directly you have made up your mind about it-as in case you do not want it I may still have the time to offer it to one other person. "Yes Rembrandt" or "No Rembrandt" will do. 47


The photograph I send along with the Rembrandt is of a late Tintoretto that I like very much. The curtain is a dark, warm green, the dress dark red brocade, and the hair white. This you can have for £500. 3 I shall write to you of a Velasquez very soon, and I have one or two other great pictures in view which should be in your collection. Meanwhile I beg you to wire me about the Rembrandt quanta primo. Forgive this too long letter, and believe me Ever Yours Bernhard Berenson » r. This seems to be the first indication that ISG was planning a gallery. She later said that the

Rembrandt Self Portrait, purchased in l 896 from Colnaghi, became the cornerstone of her collection and that thereafter she planned her own museum. »2. Wilhelm von Bode, director of the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin; W. Bode and C. H. de Groot, The Complete Works of Rembrandt, 8 vols. (Paris, 1897-1906) . »3. ISG purchased this painting from Colnaghi in l 896. The sitter was identified as Zacharias Vendramin from an inscription on a version of the picture bought by the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore (sold c. 1955). ISG's portrait is now catalogued as from the studio of Tintoretto .

I

52 Beacon Street

Feb. 2 [I 896]

Dear Mr. Berenson

The photographs and the delightful letter came last night. The latter by the way made me quite frantic to fly to Fiesole and drink in the air-and perhaps saunter with you in the sunny afternoons. About the Bellini: the money bothers me. Perhaps I may be able. I am bitten by the Rembrandt, and today being Sunday, I wait until tomorrow and then cable "Yes Rembrandt"! Also "Yes Tintoretto." What do you think of that! And of course, I am hoping for the Guardi, all of which means that I shall sell my clothes, eat husks and be a very prodigal with my pictures. Even my ears covered with debts! And you must come over and see it all. Yours IsabellaHastily and enthusiastically Fancy, we are going to have The Scarlet Letter next week in opera. 1 » l. The opera The Scarlet Letter, adapted by Walter Damrosch and George Parsons Lathrop,

opened in Boston on

IO

February l 896 and in New York on 6 March l 896.

I

52 Beacon Street

Feb. 4 [I 896]

P. 0. to 1st letter. Here is the money order. It includes for Rembrandt, Tintoretto and commissions. Can you find out for me about a Titian apparently, from photographs, most splendid! It is a portrait of Marie of Austria daughter of Charles V, wife of Maximilian, and of her own little daughter, standing by her side. It belongs to Marchese Fabrizio Paulucci, and is in his


private gallery at Forll, Italy. 1 The portraits are life size. They have tried in vain to sell it here as they ask me prix Jou! Can you approach them. If they could feel there is really no hope here it might be possible to do something. Will you try? And believe me always Yours Isabella The Titian has been offered to the Louvre-but the price was impossible. » r. The portrait Juana of Austria with a Young Child, by an unknown Spanish painter, is a

contemporary version of a painting in the Prado Museum , Madrid (the window in the background may have been added later to give the painting a Venetian look). Negotiations for its purchase continue in the correspondence for many months. ISG finally bought the painting for $75,000, one of her more costly mistakes .

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole Florence, Feb. r6, 1896

I have received both your charming notes of the 4th, and from the cable I sent you a few days ago you already must know that the Rembrandt and Tintoretto and the Guardi as well are yours. I sincerely congratulate you on the possession of all these treasures, and if envy were in me I should envy you. But I hope, you will not object to my feeling a Platonic proprietary right in these pictures. I already am beginning to feel that pride in your collection which I shall be amply entitled to feel when it is in reality what as yet it is only in my n1ind's eye. In said mind's eye your gallery possesses a masterpiece by each of the world's great masters, and I am plotting for you with a foresight worthy of the cause to possess you of these precious spoils. Almost I had fished the finest of Velisquezes for you, the other day; but as the bait would have had to be about £8,ooo; and as naturally I could not throw it immediately; the fish suddenly changed its mind and vowed it would not bite at all. It was well worth £8,ooo, though. I am now angling for another Velasquez, but I shall not be able to tell you of it for some time. Of course my ideal of your gallery includes a Bellini. I trust therefore you will not harden your heart to the adorable Madonna of which I sent you the photograph. I shall do what I can to find out about the portrait of Mary of Austria. One thing I can tell you quite certainly-that it is not by Titian. Of course that should make no difference in our enjoyment of it, but should make a vast difference in the price. A picture of the kind you describe, but not by Titian should at the very utmost fetch £r, 500. Do you have a photograph of this work in your keeping, and could you send it to me? I now am sending you the photograph of a picture which was always called a Titian until the breaking up of the great Scarpa Collection where it belonged. Of course it is not by Titian, it almost certainly is by his best follower Polidoro Lanzani. You can judge from the photograph of the attractiveness of the picture. What makes it to the highest degree valuable is


the fact that it is a portrait of the greatest and most fascinating lady of the Renaissance-your worthy precursor and patron saint-Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua. 1 I can get you this portrait for £600-and I trust you will not let it escape. My letter already is long or I should have to tell you of weather increasing enchanting of hill-sides covered with hellebore and crocus, of my walk and clim.b and several books I've read. But of all this anon! Yours ever Bernhard Berenson » 1. Lady with a Turban, subsequently attributed to Francesco Turbido, is not now considered a

portrait of Isabella d'Este.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole March 5, r 896

It is sweet of you to write such pleasant words of my new book. 1 It was a pleasure to insert your name in the indices. I wrote directly to have the Rembrandt and Tintoretto sent to E. A. Snow. 2 But I fear they already had left. I shall always direct to him in the future however. I am sending you the March number of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts with an article on Italian pictures in New York and Boston. Three of yours are reproduced, the Botticelli in a summary fashion, but well. A bientot Yours ever Bernhard Berenson »I. The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance (London and New York, 1896). of Snow's European Express, Boston, was ISG's broker from 1887 to 1903.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

»2 . E. A. Snow

Villa Kraus, Fiesole March 22, r 896

I am writing hastily on a matter of the utmost moment regarding which I must beg you on your honour to keep the strictest silence. Both Gainsborough's Blue Boy and Reynolds's Lady Siddons as [the] Tragic Muse respectively the most famous works of their famous masters as you well know may be for sale before long. The price will certainly be not under £20,000 a piece, and probably some thousands over. I need not tell you that if it leaks out that these pictures are for sale the rush for them will be overwhelming. I beg you therefore to think the matter over whether you will want to buy one or the other or both. They belong to Westminster now. 1 When the moment comes I may be reduced to so short a time for accepting or rejecting that I shall be obliged to cable. Of course I need say nothing of these pictures. More, and more deservedly famous do not exist. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson »I. The first duke of Westminster (1825-99).

50


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole March 25, 1896

You are delightful, and make it a pleasure to serve you. You shall not regret it. I am cabling that in the picture [Isabella d'Este] Isabella's hand is not at all offensive. The fact is I have noticed nothing disagreeable about it. Purely and solely as a picture I should not be urging you to get it. But you will find her decorating a wall well, and besides she has a potent attraction as the portrait of Isabella. I have to cable for I fear I could not have her kept another four weeks. The stupids here will not accept a cable to America unless the state also is given in the address. It is almost summer. The almonds are already passing and the peach and pear blossoms are in glory. The air is sweet with the perfume of wall flowers and of the gardenias, lilac and wisteria coming out. Ever Yours Bernhard Berenson

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole April 12, l 896

At last, I am on a fair way to definite knowledge regarding Maria of Austria by Titian at Forll. From the photograph it looks a marvel and priceless; but of course I must see it before pronouncing myself. That I shall do within ten days, and I shall let you know my decision immediately. The price they ask is ÂŁ10,000; and if the picture bears out the promise of the photograph, I must say it is worth every penny asked for it. But of course I shall try, and no doubt succeed in getting it for considerably less. I must repeat tho' that if it is what it seems it is too wonderful-no portrait by Titian in any private collection known to me being its rival. I am amazed that such a picture should remain unknown as it has to all writers and critics. Summer is upon us with its sorcery, and yet spring is still tender. The lilac is out and intoxicating, the pear blossom in its virginal white and the apple and quince with their soft suffusions of pink symphonize into exquisite harmonies. They remind one ofKorin [1658-1716] screens. You lucky person who can see them any day! Yours ever Bernhard Berenson

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole April 14, l 896

I have just received your winged words about The Blue Boy. It were absurd for one to urge such a picture upon you. You know it. You know that Gainsborough is one of the world's painters, and you know that The Blue Boy is his masterpiece. So of course you must have it. Indeed I advise you to borrow, to do anything, but to get that picture. 51


But-it will require cunning angling to bring that beauty to land. A bait of less than $100,000 will be out of the question. All my subterranean efforts have not succeeded thus far in settling a definite price. As soon as I know it, I will cable it to you-the cable will be the price in pounds, and not name the picture, of course. So please to be expectant. I am doing all I can in the absurdly indirect, diplomatic way one must proceed in these matters. Many thanks for the small cheque for the insurance. The portrait of Isabella d'Este is already afloat, and will have reached you perhaps by the time you have received this. To return to The Blue Boy-as soon as I can know the price at all it will be necessary to act with the utmost expedition. So please to cable back a definite "yes"-by impossible-"no" in answer to mine. Also, I must beg you not to be disappointed if it all comes to nothing. Picture-owners are so absurdly capricious. But trust me please to do my best. Yours sincerely Bernhard Berenson

P. S. I remain in Italy till the middle of June; but after May l, I shall be travelling about, Rome, Naples, Milan. Until June l 5, this remains the quickest address.

l

Dear Berenson,

52 Beacon Street Boston April 25, 1896

Isabella d'Este is here. She arrived safely and is most delightful. She and Rembrandt held quite a little reception this afternoon. I had some delicious music. When that was over, the devotees put themselves at the feet of the lady and the painter. They and the music-all three-had a great success. And my horse won his race yesterday; so I seem to be in luck. I pray that I may get the Titian. I am glad the idea pleases you. I have been in love with the photograph all these months. I am glad you did not know about it. It is a pleasure to have introduced you and it. Get it for me, as cheap as possible. The poor-house is waiting for me! In two days I move to Brookline, 1 where I live with the birds and the flowers. Everything is jumping and throbbing into life. When do you leave Fiesole, and where do you go? I wish I could talk to youSincerely yours IsabellaI have horses, pictures, flowers, music-but no possible pens. The Gardners owned an estate with a farm in nearby Brookline known as Green Hill. John L. Gardner's father, who bought it in I 842, left it to them in I 883. The house is still in the family. ÂťI.

52


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole April 26, r 896

For the last ten days I have had nothing decisive to write you regarding The Blue Boy. For several days the news that came to me was of the most despairing kind: that the Mrs. Siddons was to be had; but that The Blue Boy was not even on sale-that this was a misunderstanding. At last I have news of a better sort, altho' negative enough. It is that it may be possible to treat of the matter-The Blue Boy-on a basis of about £30,000. I may be able to get it for a couple of thousand pounds less; we may have to give a couple of thousand pounds more. Now my own conviction is that The Blue Boy may be had, and that the owner is merely waiting for a good enough price. As prices of such pictures go, £30,000 is anything but extraordinary or unusual. My conscience more than permits me to urge you to spend that much on it-provided you want it badly enough. And I doubt whether in the whole realm of possible purchases there be such another prize for the valiant buyer. So my advise is BE BOLD.

Well, as matters are urgent I have taken it upon me to offer £30,000 for The Blue Boy. I repeat if you really want the picture you will not hesitate at the price. But if by chance you do not, pray lose no time to cable a NOBB =no, Blue Boy. On the other hand it would be a great favour to me if on receipt of this you approve, to cable YEBB =Yes Blue Boy. I have seen the Forli Titian, Maria d' Austria and her little daughter. It bears out the promise of the photograph, and is in as good a condition as pictures of that sort ever are. Indeed bad varnish and a smootch or two apart it is intact. Of the price I can not write decidedly yet; but I think £7, 500 will fetch it. If you got it, and The Blue Boy together it would indeed be delightful, and I do not think you soon would repent it. But if you shall not want the Titian I beg you to cable on this score also NO TIT= no Titian. If you do want it for between seven and eight thousand pounds, please cable YE TIT= yes Titian. This picture is bound to be sold quickly, and if you do not want it, I would like the chance of offering it to one or two other friends. To resume, if I receive a cable YEBB YE TIT I shall get both The Blue Boy and the Titian for you at about the price indicated. If the cable reads NOBB NO TIT I get neither. YEBB NO TIT= Yes Blue Boy but not Titian. NOBB YE TIT= Not Blue Boy but yes Titian. I now await your orders; but please bear in mind that even at £30,000 or so The Blue Boy may not be obtainable. If it is not tho' please bear in mind that it will not be through fault of mine. Even before you receive this I may cable to you. But enough for the present, and forgive my explicitness. Yours sincerely Bernhard Berenson

53


Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline May7, 1896

Your letter has just come and I have written the Cable to go to you tomorrow morning-YEBB YETIT. Which means "Yes both." But I fancy you received sometime ago already my letter saying that I wanted you to get the Titian for me, and also saying how glad I was to have been the means of making you know it. Of caurse I want it, and although the price is huge, it is possible. Now, you see me steeped in debt-perhaps in Crime-as the result! For if you get The Blue Boy and I have to pay ÂŁ30,000 for it, I shall have to Starve and go naked for the rest of my life; and probably in a debtor's prison! The Titian is surely mine; and The Blue Boy perhaps-so hurrah boys and rejoice greatly. And I will go to Fiesole, to live and economize. Let me hear from you before the Titian is packed-as to details-I have never had a moment's hesitation about wanting the Titian since the rst moment I heard about it. That is why I wrote to you-preferring to have you get it for mealthough a man here wanted to do it and offered to. Of course, I still hope you can get the prices down for both pictures-I have never borrowed before and I feel rather queer! Good night-I hope we may both have pleasant dreams. Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Hotel Hassler, Rome May ro, r 896

I wish I could write to you about how delightful Rome is just now, about the people, including D' Annunzio, I have been seeing, and about the books I have been reading. But I have much else to write about first, and a good angel bids me to not make my letters too long. In the first place let me thank you for your genial, cordial warming letter wherein you spoke of the reception you gave Isabella d'Este, the music and the incense. Then I heartily congratulate you over your triumphant horse. You should have a Pindar to sing this. And now after this fairly joyous prelude I must sink to the minor key and wail my loss-my loss far more than yours. Our cables must have crossed each other. Yours reached Fiesole, and I wired from here two nights ago. You have lost only the chance of buying a great picture. I have lost much pains , six weeks of continuous plotting and managing, and what sincerely I value most, the opportunity of supremely pleasing you. What happened was this. The owner of The Blue Boy seems to have wanted to see what serious offer would be made for his picture, and this having been made-ÂŁ30,000-he then firmly said that he had not the remotest intention of selling, and that no price could possibly

54


tempt him. There the matter stands. Do forgive my having excited you in vain. Your disappointment can not be greater than mine. The only consolation is that in our life-time The Blue Boy will not leave its present owner, without its going to you, if you continue to want it. Of that much I trust I can assure you. 1 The Titian portrait of Maria d' Austria and her little girl shall be yoursas I wrote some ten days ago for not more than £8,ooo, I hope. Negotiations are slow, but as soon as they are finished I will let you know by cable. I will wire MARIA and the figures 7, 500, 8,ooo or whatever they be-and the figures to stand for pounds. Now, on bended knee I must make a frightful confession. Just a week ago I thought The Blue Boy so certainly yours that I did something stupid in consequence. 'Tis a tale with a preface, and this you must briefly hear. One of the few greatest Titians in the world is the Europa-which was painted for Philip II of Spain, and as we know from Titian's own letter to the king, despatched to Madrid in April I 562. Being in every way of the most poetical feeling and of the most gorgeous colouring, that greatest of all the world's amateurs , the unfortunate Charles I of England had it given to him when he was at Madrid negotiating for the hand of Philip the Fourth's sister. It was then packed up to await his departure. But the negotiations came to nothing, and Charles left Madrid precipitately. The picture remained carefully packed-this partly accounts for its marvellous preservation-and finally came in the last century into the Orleans collection. When that was sold some hundred years ago, the Europa fell into the hands of a lord whose name I forget, then into Lord Darnley's, and now it is probably to be bought for the not extraordinary price of £20,000 (twenty thousand pounds). This is my preface. Now list to my doleful tale. Of all this I became aware just a week ago when I had no doubt I could get you The Blue Boy. I reasoned that you would not be likely to want to spend £20,000 on top of £3 8,ooo. But the Titian Europa is the finest Italian picture ever again to be sold-I hated its going elsewhere than to America, and if possible to Boston. So in my despair I immediately wrote to Mrs. S. D. Warren

urging her to buy it. 2 Now as you can not have The Blue Boy I am dying to have you get the Europa, which in all sincerity, personally I infinitely prefer. It is a far greater picture, great and great tho ' The Blue Boy is. No picture in the world has a more resplendent history, and it would be poetic justice that a picture once intended for a Stewart should at last rest in the hands of a Stewart. But you have forbidden me to bring you into rivalry with any one else. Yet I have given you my reasons and I trust you will sufficiently consider the exceptional circumstances. I am under no obligation to Mrs. Warren. If you cable as soon as possibly you can make up your mind after receiving this, your decision will in a perfectly bona fida way come before Mrs. Warren's and then the Europa shall be yours. Cable, please the one word 55


YEUP =Yes Europa, or NEUP =No Europa, to Fiesole as usual. I am sending a poor photograph which will suffice if you look patiently to give you an idea. 3 And now, dear Mrs. Gardner, I have told you my doleful tale. Forgive me. Get the Europa, and if you decide to get her-by the way she is on canvas, 5ft ro high, 6ft 8 broad, signed TITIANUS PINXIT-please do not speak of her to any one until she reaches you, so as to spare me with Mrs. Warren. Please address Fiesole until June 3. Very sincerely yours Bernhard Berenson » r. The Blue Boy was sold in 1921 by the second duke of Westminster (1879-1953) through the firm ofDuveen Brothers to Henry E. Huntington (1850-1927); it is now in the Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino, Calif. There it hangs with two other paintings from the same collection, Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and The Cottage Door, also by Gainsborough. »2 . Susan Cornelia Warren, a collector whose husband, Samuel (Ned Warren's brother), was a president of the Trustees of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from 1892 to 1901. »3. The purchase of The Rape of Europa directed ISG's attention toward Italian paintings, although that was perhaps inevitable, given her and BB's interests. It remains the most important painting in her collection. She never bought another English painting and sold a work by Romney, the only English picture in the collection, in 1914.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

King's Private Hotel, 4 Suffolk Street Pall Mall June 7, 1896

I arrived here a week ago if you please to take to my bed with a chill and innumerable ills. I am emerging, but shore yet seems dim and distant. That is why I have missed a mail in acknowledging your most bountiful cheques. I would I were well enough to rejoice over the riches you shower upon me-my thanks are no whit slighter. Why can't I be with you when Europa is unpacked! America is a land of wonders, but this sort of miracle it has not witnessed. Nor, I hope, seeing miracles have begun, will this be the last. I also spend much time dreaming of your Museum. If my dreams make but a fair approach to realization yours shall not be the least among the kingdoms of earth. It is annoying about the Forli picture, but when an Italian once has got the mystic sum of 500,000 into his head nothing but time and gentle neglect will take it out. Your order with regard to shipping shall be attended to. Sincerely Yours Bernhard Berenson


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Hotel du Quai Voltaire Paris, June 18, 1896

At last, after suspense that to me has been harrowing the Europa is yours. All sorts of hitches, and rival offers came up which threatened to shipwreck things but now we are safe in port, and to-day I cabled to you to send the cheque at once, as the sooner the picture is paid for and absolutely ours the better. Of course you will have thought of sending me directions about the shipping if there be any out of the ordinary. If not I shall ship the picture direct to Boston to the care of Snow. By the way, did you ever send the cheque for the Isabella d'Este? I have not received it-perhaps it got lost in the post-and the sellers are dunning me for the money. Isabella was £600. I fear I have not as good news as I should like regarding Maria of Austria. My efforts to get it perhaps, or some other people after it, have again raised the owner's hopes, and I greatly fear it may be impossible to get it for less than £10,000. Please let me know by cable thus:-Berenson Baring Bros. London Yeten-if you are willing to pay that much. I shall make it a point of pride to get it for less if possible. But I want to know how high I may go if I must. I enclose a photograph of a life size portrait of a lady (bust only) by Van Dyck. It comes from the collection of the famous Duke d'Osuiia, and is of exceptionally fine quality. I can get it for you for four thousand pounds-if it is to be had. I am allowed to offer it only conditionally as the National Gallery and private buyers are after it. If you want it, please add to the cable I have begged you to send, the word Yevan. 1 Do forgive the unspeakable dullness of this letter, but I am suffering from one of those all-stupifying colds that I trust you know not. At Milan the other day I met Aldo Noseda who spoke of you with an enthusiasm which gave me great pleasure. 2 Sincerely Yours Bernhard Berenson Please address to care of Baring Bros. London. » r. Van Dyck's portrait A Lady with a Rose was overlooked at this time in the flurry of other

purchases and was finally bought six months later from Colnaghi. art collector and connoisseur.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

»2. Aldo Noseda, Italian

Paris June

22, l

896

I received your cable yesterday, and thank you for it. Of course I will do my level best about the Forli Titian, believe me; but I already have written that I no longer have hopes of getting it for under £10,000, and to-day I have had news which makes me fear it will take even more to fetch it.

57


There's nothing so resembles picture-buying as trouting, and [at] times it almost seems impossible to land your fish. Here there is only question of the bait, and I already have begged you to cable on this point, and now I fear I must raise the limit to £1 l,ooo. I shall wait two or three days after receiving your cable about the £10,000 limit, and if I hear no further I shall take it for granted you are willing to go up to £1 l ,ooo. And now I am going to overwhelm you with another offer. 'Tis nothing less than the arch-famous portrait of the Earl of Arundel by Rubens. 1 Who Arundel was, the great ambassador and advisor of Charles I, great patron of art and letters, I need not tell you. Until the other day it belonged to Lord Warwick. 2 It is now for sale. It is life-size and in perfect condition. The price is £24,000 a trifle more or less.* It is a huge price, but not as Rubens now goes. Now I have made you the proposal, and done my duty by you. I have no means of retaining the picture even for a fortnight. But I like you to have the chance of a shot at it, for certainly it is one of the greatest and most renowned of the works of art. And if you cabled speedily YES RUBENS you would have a strong chance of getting it. I enclose an engraving for there is no photograph. I lunched the other day with the most charming old gentleman in the world, the Due d' Aumale. 3 Among his possessions I saw prominent a copy of your Clouet. The interesting point is that the Due could tell me who the person was-the Due d' Angouleme, eldest son of Francis I. 4 I remain here till July, and then to London. Yours sincerely Bernhard Berenson *Finishing the letter I have advice telling me it may (but only may) be had for as little as £22, ooo. »I. Thomas Howard (158 5-1646), second Howard earl of Arundel and sixteenth earl of Surrey. »2. The fifth earl of Warwick (1853-1924). »3. Henri, due d'Aumale (1822-97) , the fourth son of Louis Philippe, created the Musee Conde at Chantilly. »4. Not the due d' Angouleme

but his older brother Franc;ois, the dauphin.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Paris June 26, 1896

I regret to celebrate my birth-day with a piece of bad news. The Forli Titian will not turn into bank-notes; or rather it will not except under high pressure. After all the encouraging pursuit and hopeful signs the owner calmly informs me that he can not part with the picture for less than £20, ooo. I know the state of Italian mind leading to this demand too well. Ha la testa riscaldata, and nothing will cool it except an interruption of negotiations. The picture is great, but unknown, disputable, and at the utmost worth a cool £10,000. To make sure of it I could urge you to go £1,000 more. Beyond, were madness; and much as I regret hopes faded, and time wasted, I


can in conscience but urge you to let the matter drop for the present. When the owner has boxed the compass with his picture he perhaps will come down to sense, and then we can talk. And now I return to the charge of Rubens's Arundel. I am certain now of being able to get it for £22,000, possibly for £21,000-and it is Rubens's greatest portrait. I want you to have it. You now have one of the great Titians; Arundel will be a match for it. I will cable before you can receive this about the Forll picture in the hope it may help decide you about Arundel. Meanwhile and always Sincerely Yours Bernhard Berenson

Dear Berenson

Beach Hill Pride's Xing Mass. 1 July 19, 1896

Fancy your getting to England only to take to your bed! I am awfully sorry-are you all right now? Your little letter does not seem quite reassuring. I should like to think of you as well again. Let me know. When comes Europa? I am feverish about it. Do come over, just to unpack her and set her up in her new shrine! Do! And pray to all your Pagan Gods that I may get the Forll too. My heart has an unaccountably soft spot for it. I am leading such an open air life just now-driving, seeing polo, and people. Flowers and pictures seem to belong to another existence-flowers in Brookline, pictures in Boston! I am going up tomorrow to see both of them. Shan't you and I have fun with my Museum? Take care of yourself, get well, and write. What work have you now in your head, and heart; and on your pen? Some day, by the way, you must say a little to me about that heart of yours. What does it do for you in this world? Sincerely yours Isabella S. Gardner » r. The Gardners spent part of the summer in Prides Crossing, Mass ., each year from r 860 to

r 898, and ISG to 1900.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

London, July 21, 1896

I have to thank you for two charming if chiding notes. Believe me from the moment I first wrote that I had seen the Forll picture until I cabled that the matter could not be pursued further I did my level best. At first it seemed as if it would be easy, and it must have been, as you tell me a New York dealer offered you the picture for $40,000. Then something happened. Some half intelligent picture fancier must have seen it and said "what you 59


sell this for less than half a million francs, a crime to your children etc." Li hanno riscaldato la testa-is my theory. That he meanwhile has sold it is to me incredible-unless indeed it hath been gobbled up by fools to whom money is no object. As I already have told you, I could not in conscience advise you to pay more than ÂŁr r, ooo. But I believe the picture is still at Forli. I shall have my eye on it-in so far as possible, and a year or two hence we may resume negotiations on a sensible footing. How sorry I am about the Rubens! I prefer it in every way to the Forli Titian, particularly as you already have one unsurpassable. The Rubens is still unsold I believe, and there is just a chance that it may be got for even less than a fornight ago. In that case I will cable again in the wild hope that you still will take it. What think you I found at Lord Brownlow's the other day. A copy of your Margaret of Austria by Mabuse or Van Orley. 1 Lord Brownlow adores his copy. I smiled thinking what he would say if he saw the original. Oh, how hot it is here! I start on a picture tour north in about a week. Ever Yours sincerely Bernhard Berenson Âť r. Anna Van Bergen, Marquise de Veere, after Mabuse, was purchased as a work by Jan Scorel from the Bonomi-Cereda Collection, Milan, along with the portrait The Dauphin Fran_{ois. The best of several versions of this portrait went from the earl of Brownlow's collection to Sen. Herbert Lehman of New York, who left it to the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass., in 1968.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Windsor July 29, 1896

To make sure that the Forll picture was not sold, I wrote to say that considering how stoutly they made their demand of ÂŁ20,000 for it, I possibly underestimated the picture when I last saw it, and asked them to let me see it again. They have answered that I could see it again at any time. At the same time I asked what they meant by having allowed a N. Y dealer to offer it for $40,000. They indignantly deny this charge, and write that in America it was offered by a cousin of theirs who had been consul general there, but never for less than a million francs. I have been here the last two days studying the drawings of Leonardo and Michelangelo. What miracles of art! How you would enjoy .them! Paintings by these giants are not to be had for money; but for gold fine drawings of theirs still turn up. May I not be on the look out for one each for you? They should be represented in your collection. 1 I go to Scotland to-morrow night, there for several weeks to revel in pictures, buildings, landscapes and poetical associations. I love our ballads, don't you? They will now become more alive than ever. Yours sincerely Bernhard Berenson 60


Âť 1 . Most o f ISG 's drawin gs ca m e from the Robinson sale at Christie's London, in M ay 1902.

She had acquired almost none previously.

North Berwick Aug.

2,

r 896

I arrived here last night to find your charming letter of July 19th. So you are at Pride's Crossing, which I knew so well at fifteen. Since I have left beloved Massachusetts-I fear I already have forgotten how to spell the dear barbarous name-I have never seen a coast which like this has so much reminded me of our north shore. Rock, and forest, and islets, and the eternal moan of the sea, eternally eloquent. I am resting here a day or two after a very rapid journey north, and before plunging into the wilds of Scottish country houses. On the way up I spent a day at Alnwick by far the most enchanting castle in the most enchanted spot known to me out of Italy. 1 Fine pictures too, but who shall speak of them to the owner of Europa? I hope you have now received her, and had your first honeymoon with her. What a beauty. Titian at his grandest, Rubens at his strangest, you have both matchless artists' dominant notes singularly combined in this one picture. No wonder Rubens went half mad over it. I beseech you look at the dolphin, and at the head of the bull. There is the whole of great painting! How I wish I might see you in your first raptures over her! But my days till next July are numbered and allotted. I have to write two books . One is on the Central Italians and will include all the painters of Siena and Umbria down to the the death of Raphael. The other is a work on the drawings of the Florentine Masters. This is to be a work de grand luxe with some sixty facsimile reproductions and a hundred more modest illustrations all chosen by me, with a text giving an appreciation of the quality of each master's genius as a draughtsman. I am bound to have this ready for Christmas '97. 2 So you see I am busy. Then my head is simmering with ideas on the what and wherefore of art, which I am dying to write down in full. In my Florentine Painters I have attempted to write down the few most essential ideas, but in a form too curt to be obviously intelligible. You ask me about my heart. It exists but it is not to be written about. Some day with leisure before us I shall tell you. Meanwhile a good bit of it throbs for your museum, and again I come with a proposition. Perhaps it will console you for our temporary check over the Forli Titian. I am sending you a photograph, to me who know the original, far from satisfactory of a life size portrait by Rembrandt. 3 It is of one of Rembrandt's friends-I can not remember his name just now, but 'tis well known-is signed and dated 164-. But the point is that I have never seen a Rembrandt which I personally have liked so well. From any view, it represents the master at his happiest moment, when he had surmounted all his difficulties and had not yet become careless. As technique as harmony of colour it is perfection. You have never seen anything quite so bewitching as the yellow of the ripe corn on 6r


the hat, the colour-note to which the whole picture is keyed up. It sings the music of the spheres I assure you.- Seldom does Rembrandt please me perfectly in his interpretation. With rare exceptions I find him theatrical, or emphatic, or too obviously profound. In the portrait of which I am sending you the photograph you have the sheer simplicity of supreme genius-no more nor less. So for all these reasons and a thousand others to be felt but not spoken of, I should like you to possess this picture. It is in perfect condition, and for what it is, to be had for a very reasonable figure-£10,000 (ten thousand pounds). It comes from the collection of Lord Carlisle. There-I have said my say, and now it is for you to decide. But there is no time to be lost, and directly you have decided please cable. YEMBAND =Yes, Rembrandt. NO BAND= No, Rembrandt. How soothing and reconciling is this wonderful sound of the waves. Why does one ever live away from it? I suppose so as not to become indifferent to it. Yours sincerely Bernhard Berenson Alnwick Castle is the seat of the duke of Northumberland. »2. The Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance appeared in l 897. The Drawings of the Florentine Painters of the Renaissance did not appear until 1903. »3. Portrait of a Young Artist, by a follower of Rembrandt, then in the ninth earl of Carlisle's collection, passed through Colnaghi and went to Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919) in 1899; it is now in the Frick Collection, New York. » r.

Dear Berenson

Roque Island 1 Jonesport Maine August 14 [1896]

You were good to write to me about the Forli. It still all seems a mystery to me-but I suppose you can better understand the working of dealers, and can put your finger on the weak spot. To me it seems as if" one of the boys lied"-! However, it is quite evident that there is nothing more to be done now. I am hearing on all sides, only wails about hard times-so just for the present, tempt me not-not even with a drawing of Leonardo nor Michelangelo. We are having a l 5 days at our uninhabited island, uninhabited, but for a farmer and his family who take care of us and a friend or two, that we bring. My great amusement is Indian canoeing on visits to the seals. They have to be sly visits not to frighten the seals. We go back to civilization (Chromo-Civilization) in two days. And then perhaps the Europa may arrive! Yours Isabella If-! » l. Roque Island, Maine, came into the Gardner family through Catherine E. Peabody's mar-

riage to John Gardner, Sr., and is still owned by various descendants.

62


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Station Hotel, Perth Aug. I4, I896

I enclose a bill for £6 5, -I-being the insurance on your Europa, which I beg you to pay at your convenience by cheque made out to me. I have now been a fortnight in Scotland, and I bravely can say that I have enjoyed every moment. I see such beautiful parks and enchanting country without actually and flagrantly going in search of them; and of course I see many pictures. There are very few of the best-the very best I think is an equestrian Olivarez by Velasquez 1 that I saw at Lord Elgin's. 2 You have been to Edinburgh of course? Do you know another town so marvellously situated? It makes on the effect of an Asgard or Riesenheim. I look forward to receiving soon your impression of Europa. Sincerely Yours Bernhard Berenson » r. Velasquez's portrait The Duke of Olivarez was sold to The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

in 1952. »2. Victor Alexander (1849-1917), ninth earl of Elgin and Kincardine, viceroy of India, l 894-99. (The seventh earl acquired and later sold the Elgin Marbles to the British Museum, London.)

Dear Berenson

Beach Hill Pride's Xing Beverly August I 8 [I 896]

I got back yesterday (IO P. M.) and found your letter. You are really the unkindest human-being. I have not one cent and Mr. Gardner (who has a New England conscience) won't let me borrow even one more! I have borrowed so much already. He says it is disgraceful. I suppose the picture-habit, (which I seem to have) is as bad as the morphine or whiskey one-and it does cost. So this morning I simply wept when I saw the photograph of the Rembrandt! I do want it so much. But there is absolutely no hope of it unless the picture will keep over; or unless Lord Carlisle wants to give it to me! What chances have I? Up to this moment Europa has not appeared; so the honeymoon delays; and I am gnawingly impatient. Why can't you be here; and why can't you have "that time enough"-so that I may hear much. I am so entirely interested in your work that seems piled up before you. I am sure it will take until long after next July for you to get through. Which is what I hope. For if all goes well, we should be in Europe next summer. So don't choose that moment for being here, please! We have been for more than a fortnight in the wilderness ; i.e. at our Island of Roque-off the Maine Coast between Bar Harbor and Campobello. I lived in a canoe and saw only seals. I have a dream of some time living in the Villa Medici Fiesole. Would it be pleasant? Tell me details about


your Scotch journey-and try to steal that Rembrandt for me. I should have liked to see Alnwick. What luck you have! What are you doing in Scotland, my country? Yours Isabella-

Dear Berenson

Pride's Crossing Mass. Aug. 25 [1896]

She (Europa) has come! I was just cabling to you to ask what could be the matter, when she arrived, safe and sound. She is now in place. I have no words! I feel "all over in one spot," as we say. I am too excited to talk. I enclose the draft and am, with many thanks, Sincerely yours Isabella S. Gardner-

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Randolph Hotel, Oxford] Aug. 28, 1896

I have just received two letters which despite bad news, I find tonic. This comes from your buoyant English. Do you know how well you write? I am distressed that you had not yet received Europa. The delay must have taken place on the other side, for she was sent by the Lucania and must have got to New York no later than Aug. l. I am distressed about the Rembrandt also. In these recent wanderings of mine I have seen many, and famous works of this extraordinary creature. I would not have all for this one. It inspired in me a peculiar affection, and I hate you not to have it. Please list not on the "rumore senum severiorum"the mutterings of sour greybeards-change your mind, and have it still. For thanks to its being the dead season it still is to be had. Ah, Scotland, it is a dream of glamour and magic which I hope to dream often again. I have seen no land more lovely. It is Greece, the Roman Campagna in the North, and with conditions of temperature and atmospheric pressure such as the South never can give us Northerners. England is dear and domestic and copiously nourished-and beside Scotland tame. I found at Rokeby up in the north, a splendid atelier version of your Europa . 1 In a few days I start for Italy, via Belgium, Munich, Vienna, Buda-Pesth-and Dalmatia. Yours ever B.B. ÂťI.

Mrs . Donovan's collection, Rokeby, Yorkshire .


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Frankfurt, Sept. 8, 1896

I found here on arrival yesterday your cheery note about Europa. I find your silence eloquence, and know, I think just how you feel about her. She is peerless. And I have still another proposal, this time so modest, that even "hard times" need not interfere. 'Tis a most lovely portrait of a most loveable German painted in the early years of the 16th century, probably by Aldegrever. 1 The photograph I am sending will let you judge of the line, and as for the colour you shall find mulberry and green quite delicious. It is painted on parchment, and is I 81/4 by I 3 V4 inches in size. I can get it for you for £600-very very cheap. If, "by impossible," you do not want it please return the photograph. I left England a week ago, and have been revisiting Bruges-the Flemish Siena-Ghent, Brussels, Antwerp, and Aix. Everywhere beautiful buildings quaint corners, and one or two great pictures. One picture impressed me more than all the others, a marvel of line, depth and transparency of colour, and life-communicativeness by a certain Dirck Bouts at Brussels. 2 Let me know, please quid murmurunt gentes about Europa. It will amuse me. Most sincerely Yours Bernhard Berenson This painting has not been identified . »2. Possibly BB refers to the two scenes from Dirck Bouts's Justice of Otto III at the Musee Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. » r.

Dear Berenson

Sept.

I I [I 896]

This is a very hurried word, to say merely that if our stupid and impossible Art Museum does not get the Giorgione (the Christ head, you know) please get it for me. I have seen the photographs and like it. They won't move quickly enough to get it I fear. 1 You think it is Giorgione do you not? And the price seems not too bad. How about that Velasquez you once spoke of? Has it gone over the horizon? I am having a splendid time playing with Europa. She has adorers fairly on their old knees-men of course. Yours Isabella» 1. In 1898 ISG purchased Christ Bearing the Cross, then attributed to Giorgione, after long

negotiations on BB's part. An attribution to Giovanni Bellini has recently gained support.

Dear Berenson

Beach Hill Pride's Xing Beverly Sept. 19 [1896]

Your letters are delightful always. They make me want to do and see what you speak of. And I wish I could tell you about the things on my end of the 65


line in your own way. I am breathless about the Europa, even yet! I am back here tonight (when I found your letter) after a two days' orgy. The orgy was drinking my self drunk with Europa and then sitting for hours in my Italian Garden at Brookline, thinking and dreaming about her. Every inch of paint in the picture seems full of joy. Mr. Shaw, Mr. Hooper, Dr. Bigelow, and many painters have dropped before her. 1 Many came with "grave doubts"; many came to scoff; but all wallowed at her feet. One painter, a general skeptic, couldn't speak for the tears! all of joy!!! I think I shall call my Museum the Borgo Allegro. The very thought of it is such a joy. Mr. Hooper long ago, pleased me greatly by saying that I was the Boston end of the Arabian Nights. And now he only adds "I told you so"May I keep the photograph of the little German picture just a little. I am not now quite calm enough to look, and think about it. You see I had to borrow a pile of money-I think it was a good thing to do-and I would do it again for a whacker; but don't you agree with me that my Museum ought to have only a few, and all of them A. No i.s. Or do you think otherwise? Are you on your way to Italy? And how about the great Velasquez you had in your head for me? Let us aim awfully high. If you don't aim, you can't get there. I hope you won't come here next summer or autumn. That is the time I think we may be in Europe, and I want to have you there then too-Please. Let me have an answer to the letter I wrote the other day. Yesterday I had a letter from a painter friend I had shown Europa to, the day before-I copy it, en petit, for you. "Dear Mrs. Gardner TITIAN''

You see, Europa has made an impression. Good night. I am very sleepy after my orgy. Yours IsabellaWe move to Brookline Oct. r. So address Green Hill, Warren Street Brookline Mass. Cables always "Stewart Boston." Quincy Adams Shaw (1825-1908), organizer of the Hecla Mining Co. and a collector both of Millet paintings and pastels and of Renaissance sculpture now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Edward William Hooper (1839-1901), Museum of Fine Arts trustee and collector of Peruvian textiles; and William Sturgis Bigelow (1850-1926), physician, museum trustee, orientalist, and collector, whose vast holdings caused Museum of Fine Arts trustees to consider a new building. ÂťI.

22,

r 896

So you want the Loschi Giorgione. 1 Well, you shall have it, if it is had-which I do not know-and if the Art Museum do not take it. Loring asked me whether it was genuine. 2 I assured him on that score. he and Mr. Joseph Smith went to see it, and liked it. 3 Thereupon

to be Gen. Then Gen.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

66

Vienna, Sept.


Loring asked me to undertake the purchase of it, and to advise him as to what I thought the picture worth. I told him I should undertake the negotiating only when he could give me full power to buy and pay. I advised him that the picture would be very cheap for £2,000, fair for £3,000,and that one ought to pay even £4, ooo to get it. Beyond that, it would seem to me to get beyond market values, and scarcely advisable. At the same time I promised General Loring not to speak of the picture to any one until he had refused it. If he does refuse, are you ready to pay as much as £4,000? Or perhaps Zileri will not sell it for £4,000. Would you be willing to pay more? While the picture is unquestionably genuine, its beauty tho' supreme in its kind, is perhaps more expressive than plastic. It is a sublime illustration rather than a great work of art. Moreover it is not in as good a condition as one might wish-a little fact that seems to have escaped the attention of the Boston experts. Now please do not think I am running the picture down. I adore it. Yet, it somehow is not the kind of thing I think of for you. But it is for you to decide. I am glad to be asked about Velasquez. Two different ones I had angled for proved to be beyond the power of money. But-the finest Velasquez known to me excepting those at Madrid, and the Doria Pope, 4 is Capt. Holford's full length portrait of Philip IV 5 There is a buoyancy of life in it, a severe splendour of colour that I scarcely know the rival of. That is the Velasquez I long for you to have. It is to be had if you buy Dorchester House and all its contents. 6 Whether separately I scarcely think-in fact I understand not. But Capt. Holford might yield to temptation I suppose, and if £20,000 would get it, and I had the money, I certainly would have it. Of course I am writing in the air. Such a sum for a picture you never have seen perhaps, and of which I can furnish you no photograph! Besides I have no idea that even that sum would buy it. That however is the Velasquez I would have you buy. You see I am very ambitious for you. I long for you to have the very best of its kind. I had an enchanting week in Munich just now. Mozart in the little Rococo theatre there is as delightful as anywhere. Hearing him in connection with Beethoven and Wagner I felt clearly what before I had only surmised that Mozart is the whole musician Beethoven half of one and Wagner only a fraction of one-a colossal fraction if you will, but still only a fraction. I long to write on this point-and on ballets and dancing. All this is going to be treated of in a book which I mean to publish on my fortieth birthday, thereafter binding myself over to keep the peace. Sincerely Yours Bernhard Berenson Address Villa Kraus, Fiesole, Florence » l. Christ Bearing the Cross was owned by the Counts Zileri dal Verme, of the Palazzo Los chi,

»2. Maj. Gen. Charles Greely Loring (1828-1902), expert in Egyptian art and Vicenza. archaeology, was a trustee and chief executive of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts from r 876


until his death . »3. J oseph Lindon Smith (186 3- 1950), artist and friend of ISG, was renowned for his painted records of the E gyptian excavations o f the Museum of Fine Arts. Honorary curator of E gyptian art aft er 1927, he w as w ell rem embered in Boston for his co ntribution s to amateur evenings as artist, actor, and author. IS G acquired a number of his paintings and asked him to be her museum 's first directo r. »4 . In nocent X , in the Palazzo D o ria, Rome. » 5. The work w as purchased fr o m the Holford C ollection by John Ringling (18661936) at Christie's in 1928. It is now in the Ringling Museum , Saraso ta, Fla. »6. Dorches ter House, Park Lane, residence of R . S. Holford .

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Ancona, Oct. 7, l 896

I landed in this enchanting port at five this morning, and have been hard at work this live-long day seeing. I feel collapsed with accumulated fatigue for in Dalmatia whence I come I never got my due of sleep. Yet tired and dull as I feel I must write to thank you for the life-enhancing letter I found awaiting me. I rejoice for dear old Boston that it hath people who can appreciate Europa, and your own pleasure in her is like a sweet savour to my nostrils. Courage, this is not the last of its kind that I hope to help you stock "Borgo Allegro" with. But you simply must take the German portrait. 1 This time I insist; not that I have any personal stake in the matter, but simply because I know you will adore it. The two richest collections of German art in the world are at Munich and Vienna. Leaving Diirer out of the question: I have seen in neither collection a German portrait I liked at all so much as this one that I wish you to buy. And even put beside the very best Diirer it holds it own. So do get it for my sake, so that you may enjoy it for your own. You shall have a Velasquez if it is to be had. Of course I agree that it must be of the best; and I trust I can flatter myself that what will pass muster with me will pass anywhere. How good it will be to get to Fiesole-Villa Kraus. Please address there, and believe me, Sincerely Yours B ernhard Berenson » l. See letter of 8 Septemb er l 896.

D ear B erenson

Green Hill Brookline Oct. 21, 1896

I won d er if I shall have time to say ten w ords w itho u t in terruption! I n ever get a spare moment, w h at with th e thing s I want to do, and the things I d on't want to do. And th en people ru sh and ask me questions all the day long . B ut then, that is j ust what I sh ould d o to you if I were at this m o ment at Villa Kraus! D id you understand my position about the Giorgione the A rt Museum were thinking about? I don't want to take it away from them, b ut I thought they might in the end, lack the courage to get it-and lose it 68


by delaying. So rather than that, I wanted you to get it for me. Do you see? And please do. And now comes something from the back of my head and the bottom of my heart-a dream I have-to possess the Giovanelli Giorgione!1 It is presumably in that shut up Palace in Venice. Disagreeable, very disagreeable people own it. But PERHAPS, they are not entirely dogs in a manger and might be willing to let me pull out that beautiful plum. But oh, such tact, such diplomacy, such cleverness! So, you see I put it into your hands. What do you say? And when shall we next meet? As I said "No" at first to that German picture I have not remembered anything about it. By whom, how much etc. Please tell me. Sincerely yours Isabella S. Gardner Âť r. The Tempest remained in the Palazzo Giovanelli until it went to the Accademia in Venice in

1932.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole Nov. 4, 1896

I have just received your letter of Oct. 21, and if I answer this minute I shall catch the American post. So please excuse haste. I suppose you had already received the letter I wrote from Vienna about the Loschi Georgione and that you wish me to get it in spite of some small reservations I made. Where our dreams coincide perfectly is on the Giovanelli picture. That is a picture for you if ever there was one. We shall see. I am sending again the photograph of the German portrait. Its author I now think was Beham. Of its beauty I already wrote to you from Ancona. I should be grieved if you let it go. To my sincerest feeling it is a most precious work of art. I could already have got other friends to take it, but I waited for you to change your mind in its favour. I can get it for you for ÂŁ550. But please wire at once YEBHAM, as the owner wrote only a few days ago, telling me they won't reserve it much longer. I sent a young Italian musician to you the other day. I do hope you will like him. Sincerely Yours Bernhard Berenson

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

A qui sait attendre tout arrive!

Villa Kraus, Fiesole Nov. 9, 1896

I am sending you registered the photograph of a Velasquez after my heart's desire, and of yours I am sure. It is a portrait of Philip IV, infinitely distinguished, every inch a king. 1 It is not the Holford portrait, but is not inferior. As a portrait it is unquestionably grander and profounder than the Holford, the which however has advantages of its own being more coloured for instance. It-the one I am proposing-is a little


earlier than the Holford-in fact is a replica of the Madrid portrait (no. 1070) than which it is better in execution. It was painted directly after that, and avoids some mistakes of the first versions. The one I am sending you the photograph of is of course life size, about two meters tall, and one wide. Philip is dressed in gorgeous black, and the tablecloth is pinkish red. It was painted for the Marques de Leganes, the cousin of Olivares. Later it came into the possession of the Altamiras. It was carried to Paris by Napoleon, and restored by Louis XVIII. It was sold with the entire Altamira collection ,in London in 1827, to the Bankeses of Kingston Lacy. From this collection it now comes. I tried to get Capt. Holford's but in vain. The Captain will not hear of selling it. Now for a whole year I have with scarcely an interruption tried one Velasquez after another. Excepting Holford's none began to come up to the one I have now hit on. As to the price-£15,000 is asked. I hope to be able to beat it down a few hundred, possibly get it for £14,000. At that price, or for a little more, it is very cheap. Alas! I know too well what Velasquezes fetch-and if by any unhappy mischance this one does not please you, I should despair of ever getting another of the quality and of this comparatively modest price. You are of course aware that Velasquez both with artists and buyers stands now at the very top, and is of all painters the most sought after. The market being thus, I must beg you to decide with your customary despatch, to cable YELAQEZ =Yes Velasquez, NOQEZ =No Velasquez. And may the muses direct your decision. Yours sincerely Bernhard Berenson P. S. I should add that the condition of the picture is perfect, and that the photogr:aph does no justice whatever to the exquisite detail in the painting of the dress. B.B. ISG purchased King Philip IV of Spain, now attributed to Velasquez and assistants, from Colnaghi, who bought the painting from the Bankes Collection, probably after the death of George Bankes. »I.

Dear Berenson

[New York] Nov. 15 [1896]

I am here for two days for horse show and music. If you really really think so much of that German picture, get it for me. I am cabling to you, but I must wait to get back to Boston to raise the money. Is there a chance for the Giovanelli Giorgione? I hear now, as I foresaw, that the Boston Art Museum will not take the Christ head Giorgione. I have the photograph of it, and rather like it. If I were perfectly sure of getting another good Giorgione I would not take this, but can I be sure? The photograph of the Ger-


man Beham is antipatico. But I am putting my trust in you. Tell me about Beham. Your letter got to me here three minutes ago, and I answer on the fly. Yours Isabella-

Nov. 27 [1896]

Dear Berenson

I have been away and have this day and moment got the photograph of the Velasquez. I am now cabling to you "Yes." So you see I agree with you and want it-only do be a very dear, and get it cheaper if you can. I am so poor-I am selling little by little my stocks, and if the day comes for the Giovanelli Giorgione I shall then want something left to put up the spout for that. Do you think there is any chance? Now I am writing most hurriedly. Please have the Velasquez shipped the same as the Titian-to New York-but let me know as soon as you kno\v, what price you can get it for. Yours Isabella S. Gardner

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole Nov. 29, 1896

At the same instant yesterday I received your letter from New York, and your wire with rejoicing tidings about the Velasquez. As soon as all is arranged I shall cable for you to send the cheque. I most heartily congratulate you on your choice. By the way I know not yet whether the price will be fifteen or fourteen thousand or something in between. You will understand that XIVM = 14,000. XVM =

15,000

XIVMVC

=

14, 500

But I shall telegraph them cursive, so as to arouse minimal suspicion. The German portrait is already sold. I was sorry, but I am glad, now that I hear you find it antipatico, to be rid of a temptation to force down my own taste upon you. The Los chi Giorgione will keep for a while. J'ai mis en train things which I trust will result in my knowing whether there is a chance of getting the Giovanelli picture. If none we then can try the Loschi. I am reading Homer with rapture, and fearfully busy over numerous articles and forthcoming books, and my fame increaseth at such a pace que je commence ame sentir quelqu'un. Believe me success is sweet chiefly because I think of the pleasure it will give you and a few-very few-other friends. Sincerely Yours Bernhard Berenson 71


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole Dec. 6, 1896

This must be a hasty note to tell you that last night I cabled to you the mystic words: BENE, XVM, SUBITO, the which interpreted as you will have means "Send cheque for ÂŁ15,000 at once." To my great regret and contrary to my expectation I could not get the Velasquez for a penny less, and was in fact glad to get it at that. You will have sent full directions for shipping I make no doubt. And now with many prayers that the grand portrait may reach you safely, and impress you and convince you of its worth, believe me Sincerely Yours Bernhard Berenson

l

Dear Berenson

52 Beacon Street Boston Jan. lst l 897

A happy New Year to you. It is fitting to begin the New Year by writing to you, who have done so much to make the past one full. I should have written long ago; but we moved so late to town that I was overwhelmed with everything at once, and Christmas on top of all. I am now awaiting the Velasquez. I did send you a hurried word to say that the shipping directions were the very same as for Europa. When do you think Philip will be here, to see this new world and get new subjects? At this mon1ent, I am just out of bed in wrapper and fur cloak down to my feet, in the drawing room! Because the electrician has come to arrange for Europa's adorers, when the sun doesn't shine. You have no idea how difficult it is to arrange artificial light satisfactorily. I hear that the Louvre has bought the Loschi Giorgione, which gives me a pang. What did they pay? I hear very little. Is there a chance of our meeting the end of next June, or the beginning of July? And how early in the autumn do you go to Fiesole? Every good wish to you, From Sincerely Yours Isabella-

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole January 6th) l 897

Why am I not hearing from you? Your Velasquez will be off in a week or ten days and I trust it will not be long before you judge of it for yourself. I hope soon to have a definite answer from the Giovanellis. I fear the worst for they recently have thrown open their collection and they are enormously rich. If not theirs-shall it be the Loschi Giorgione? But I have in 72


mind a picture-not Italian at all-which would console you; yet the chance of getting it is so small that for the present I will say nothing about it. The winter is going too fast. I am very busy writing, revel in Homer, Keats, and Mozart. Dolmetsch with his ancient instruments, and old music is staying with a friend, and at last I am hearing the sort of thing I always have longed for. 1 With best wishes for the New Year. Sincerely yours} Bernhard Berenson » r. Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940), French musician and instrument maker who worked in

Boston and had a shop in England after 1914, advocated the playing of early music on original mstruments.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole January 10th} 1897

Have you a fine Van Dyck? On the chance that you have not I am sending you the photograph of a half-length portrait of a lady so mangificent, so refined, with such exquisite hands that we must call it Van Dyck's "Mona Lisa." 1 The landscape is as fascinating as a Titian. All in all this portrait has no superior among Van Dyck's works. It is in perfect condition, life size and to be had for £4,000. If you care to take it cable YEDYCK-and reflect before you say no. The dream I spoke of in my last note has dissipated into nothing. But I shall tempt you with something else before long. Do not identify me with the Archfiend please-at least not with the conventional person usually so called. I am the templar of good and if you resist it can be only out of an overplenty of excellencies. Sincerely yours} Bernhard Berenson This portrait, A Lady with a Rose, was offered previously in BB's letter to ISG of l8June 1896. »I.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole January 23rd} 1897

I still have to thank you for your charming, warming New Year's letter. I was waiting till I could communicate what seems to me a fascinating proposal but in the meanwhile I wrote to Paris about the Loschi Giorgione. Reinach who is one of the buying committee assures me that neither he nor any of his colleagues know anything of the matter. 1 Giovanelli has given a categorical and indignant refusal. He considers himself trustee of the pictures for Italy and I must say I would more Italians had such feelings. And now for my proposal. It is a Romney. One need not share all the 73


current idolatrous worship of the painter, and may just acknowledge him to be a great artist. Such he certainly was when he painted this portrait of Lady Milner, whereof I am sending you a reproduction. As a portrait it is stately, and magnificent enough to rank with Agrippina and the one or two Roman ladies whom we see in marble at ease on their marble chairs. It is calm, reposeful, grand. As color and workmanship Romney never surpassed it. I could scarcely recommend a better purchase and considering the fabulous sum Romneys are now fetching the price is very modest. I can get it for £6, 500. The size is seven feet by four. It is with exceeding difficulty that I have got hold of this picture at all and it scarcely will be reserved for me for more than sixteen days. So I beg you to wire directly if you have made up your mind. YEM NEY= yes, Romney, NOMNEY=no, Romney. 2 I do hope you have not decided against the Van Dyck. I should always regret your not owning such a gorgeous picture. Philip left Thursday and by the time you read this will be enthroned in your domain, a king by your choosing. Of course you will write your impression. Sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson »I. Salomon Reinach (1858-1932), French archaeologist and humanist. »2. In 1910 it went to the Chamberlain Collection, Brighton, Sussex; its present location is unknown.

Dear Berenson

Jan. 28 [1897]

I am getting very anxious. Nothing of any kind has as yet been heard of the Velasquez. What do you suppose is up-and how was it sent and to whom? I am cabling Ye Van, but dear oh dear-what prices they all ask-I do want the Van Dyck. Please tell me when you write what is the exact lowest price of the Loschi Giorgione? The Art Museum say they have had several prices given them. Do bear my purse in mind and beat down the people who have what I want; for I must have the pictures! There's logic for you. Ever yours Isabella S. Gardner

r 52 Beacon Street

Dear Berenson

Boston Jan. 28, r 897

Will you kindly give me all the details about the Van Dyck-of whom it is a portrait; of whom you bought the picture; where it has been and all the history of it. Also of the Velasquez. Where it has always been and from whom it is now bought. Mr. Curtis of Venice is here making a visit; 1 and would like to know to 74


whom you attribute the 4 cento. [quattrocento] Christ of his that you saw at Cavenaghi's, 2 as Cavenaghi did not know the artist and could not remember his name. Do let me hear all the details of my picture and believe me. Sincerely yours I. S. Gardner This is my 2nd letter today. Still no news of the Velasquez. Either Daniel Curtis (d. 1908), a Bostonian who rented in 1878 and later bought in 1899 a large part of the Palazzo Barbaro in Venice, or his son Ralph (1854-1922), an artist and hon. vivan.t. »2. Cavenaghi was a restorer of paintings in Milan. »I.

Villa Kraus, Fiesole February 7th, 1897

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

I enclose the bill for the insurance over the Velasquez. By the way should the picture have bloomed a little, . get a competent man to. polish the surface with soft cotton wool. I am enchanted that you are taking the Van Dyck. You will adore it. And now I come with a monstrous proposal. Without exception the most famous landscape in the world is Rembrandt's Mill. 1 It is a poem of solemnity and depth that would join in most symphoniously with that gayer gravity of Europa. The picture was painted in Rembrandt's grandest years 1654-1656, and is in perfect preservation. I am sending you one of those monstrous prints of some time since all black and glaring. But it is enough to give you some vague idea-the rest your imagination can fill out. The picture was in the Orleans collections and since the sale of that has belonged to the Lansdownes. Now listen-I hear-mark you it is no more than that-but I hear that it could be bought. If you want to have the finest landscape in [The rest of this letter is missing.] The Mill was sold by the marquess of Lansdowne to P. A. B. Widener (1834-1915) of Philadelphia in 191 l, despite efforts by the National Gallery to keep it in England . Widener's son Joseph (1872-1943) gave it to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. The attribution has been questioned. »I.

l

Dear Berenson

52 Beacon Street

Boston Feb. 8 [1897]

His Majesty is here! I have been unpacking him and trying to hang him all the morning. But as yet I can only find a temporary resting place for his pretty, refined, elegant feet. He is glorious. I am quite quivering and feverish over him. How simple and great. I am ·a nxiously awaiting to hear all 75


details-from you, as to his former owners and why the last one sold to me etc. When do you think it was painted? This morning also came your letter about Romney. I am obliged to send you a cable "Nomney"-alas. It is a question of money-I am now forced to buy only the Greatest things in the world, because they are the only ones I can afford to go into debt for. And that is what I am obliged to do now. Europa and Philip and Van Dyck have drowned me in a Sea of debt. You would laugh to see me. I haven't had but one new frock for a year! Do also tell me all about the Van Dyck-every detail-kill the Giovanellis for me. They are quite right, if they are speaking the truth. Of course I think it ought never to leave Italy, unless it come to me! Don't you? Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole February roth, 1897

I regret that your Velasquez had not arrived when you wrote, but nothing could have happened to it-and by this time you are basking in its beams1 hope. It was sent for you to E. A. Snow of Boston. I wrote to my London agents to ship exactly as they had the Europa, and they assured they would. I thought I could rely on them, and then I found they had sent it direct to Boston, whereas I remember the Europa was sent to New York. But I do hope no inconvenience will have resulted from it-and if any have, do forgive me. You want to know the history of your Velasquez. I wrote you all about it when I proposed it to you. But I shall repeat the essentials. It was painted for the Marques de Leganes, cousin to Olivares. Later it came into possession of the Altamiras. The French carried it off as booty, but Louis XVIII returned it to the Altamiras who sold it in r 827 to the Bankes es of Kingston Lacy. From them it was bought quite recently along with other pictures by the Colnaghis of London-and you are the next and present owner. As for the Van Dyck it was always in the collection of the Dukes of Osuna-and the person represented presumably one of their house, a Flemish connection I should suppose-the picture was sold at the sale of that collection and has since then changed hands several times, finally has been got hold of by the Colnaghis from whom I am getting it for you. But my heart is in my boot for although I wired to them directly on receipt 'of your cable and wrote at the same time I have had no answer yet. But I hope it will be all right. You see, dear as you pay for pictures there are alas! others who are ready to pay as much and more. If you will have nothing but masterpieces you must pay accordingly. Look, I gave you the chance to buy


a German portrait that I thought the world of, for a few hundred pounds, and you would not have it. But talking of price, I certainly have never heard of a Romney of the quality that I have recommended to you for so small a price-of course I mean never since the taste for Romney has begun. And now for the Loschi's Giorgione. I must preface all I am going to say by telling you that I hated to see the very few Giorgiones in Italy leaving the country. As for the Loschis I had not the least idea they would sell, till one day General Loring told me that he knew from a Miss Timmons that they were inclined to sell it. He wanted to know what I thought it worth, and I informed him that its lowest price was at least £2,000, but it was amply worth £4,000, and I should advise anyone to pay as much as that if need were. Beyond £4, ooo, would still be worthwhile for anyone who really loved the picture but would be more than its "market value." Mr. Loring then asked me to negotiate the picture for them which I promised to do only however when they had decided to give me full powers to treat and conclude. He made me promise in the meanwhile not to speak of the picture to anyone else.* Then you got knowledge of it, and wrote to me, but I was in honour bound not to consider you as a buyer until Gen. Loring had set me free. I wrote to him repeatedly, and finally only a few weeks ago he answered telling me the Fine Arts committee were not inclined to take it because they had heard it was only a copy. I wrote back a furious letter, and then began to see what I could do about the picture for myself. But, alas, I fear the Loschis have meanwhile sold the picture-not to the Louvre as you supposed, but somewhere, I know not where. I am not sure as yet, and there is still a hope but you see how I was situated. I had given my word to General Loring, and that paralyzed any action on my part. But even if this Giorgione be lost, I hope in time to be able to console you. I put the lowest price as £2,000 for that much was paid by Berlin for their portrait head (a work far less valuable than the Loschi Christ), which they bought a couple of years ago-you know that all galleries buy "bargains" only. 1 I can not at the moment find the note I took of Mr. Curtis's picture at Cavenaghi's. But my impression is that I attributed it to Francesco di Gentile da Fabriano-a painter whose style is between the young Giovanni Bellini's and Marco Zoppo's. 2 Forgive this monstrous letter and believe me. Sincerely yours 1 Bernhard Berenson *[In margin in IS G's writing:] I had known of it for a long time from Minna Timmons.

J.-P.

Richter sold a half-length portrait of a young man to the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin, in r89r. It is still catalogued as by Giorgione. »2. Curtis's Ecce Homo is now at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. » r.

77


Villa Kraus, Fiesole February 13th, 1897

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

It is all right about the Van Dyck, and you may send the cheque and the directions for shipping. The delay has been due to other candidates for its possession, among them Bode. I have not heard from you yet about the Romney. On the contrary I have heard from the picture that it can get more for itself by a thousand pounds than what I have been asked. So I fear it will escape us after all. lf it do, you may be all the more free to possess yourself of the Rembrandt. I have just finished my book on the Central Italian painters, and before beginning my book on the Florentine drawings I am going to Siena for a bit. Do you know Siena? She is the rival of Venice, as greatly beautiful inland as Venice is by the sea. I am reading much verse this winter. I have almost finished the Iliad; I have read Keats and Milton through from cover to cover. Yours sincerely, Bernhard Berenson I speak of winter and it is spring advanced. The almonds have been in rich bloom for more than ten days, and the daffodils and anemones all out.

Washington's Birthday [22

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Siena February J, r 897

I rejoice that you have at last received his most Christian majesty el rey Felipe II. 1 What [why] did Bankes sell him? The poor fellow wanted money-that's all. The picture was one of the most famous Velasquezes in England. I am glad you do not want the Romney. Now I hope soon to hear your decision about the Rembrandt. That really is a picture for you! The Giovanellis really will not sell. I have been here for a week looking at pictures eight hours a day. What pictures! Not known to silly fame, but real art, and if I live the day will come when some of them-many-will be sought for at least as much as Botticelli. Then the joy of being here, the whole town a work of art, a living architecture. I have walked out to get every view of the town, transfiguring the already heavenly landscape. And this is my fifteenth visit. Tomorrow if weather keeps I go an to Monteoliveto where some of the most pregnant peaks of my life were spent. 2 Yours sincerely, Bernhard Berenson P.S . Felipe must have been painted about Âť r. BB means Philip IV.

1 625.

BB had first gone to Monte Oliveto M aggiore in 1890, and the experience h ad drawn him toward Catholicism. The Benedictine monastery is the m other house of the O livetan m onks . Âť2 .


52 Beacon Street Feb. 25 [1897]

l

Dear Berenson

Don't be cross with me! I have your two most interesting letters but you were a little cross. Add to them by telling me when you think the Velasquez was painted. About the terrible prices! The trouble is that I cannot have everything and you know about eating and having the cake! Well, I want all the cake that is possible you see. And so I want to pay the least necessary. Don't you think I am right; and aren't you entirely on my side of all these questions. Fancy the work I have gone through to be able to cable YEMILL-, [YES for The Mill] which I have done this morning! I am awfully anxious to have it; and so my museum, as a building, retires into the distance!1 Try your best, dear friend (for that is what I think you) to get it, and not at the highest price. I was truly grieved not to say Yes to the Romney. I have had a little present that perhaps can give me the Giorgione (the Christ). It is given to me for that. So I hope and pray and trust that you can get it for me. Please try. The Art Museum have sent me word that they retire-as they have doubts about it. Do you think it is Giorgione and will you buy it for me? Where are you to be between July 1st and Oct. 30? That is the time I am to be in Europe, presumably. I have cherry twigs hanging over my writing table that are just coming into flower, although it is bleak and drear outside. Be very amiable and see things for me. Sincerely yours Isabella S. Gardner Âť r. In September r 896 ISG met architect Willard Sears ( r 8 37-r 920) and discussed plans for

building a museum using her houses on Beacon Street and leaving a private apartment above.

l

Dear Berenson

52 Beacon Street Boston March 3d [1897]

It is Ash Wednesday, it is pouring, I have got your letter saying that the Van Dyck is mine; and with ashes on my head and sackcloth on my body (not because of this letter) I write to enclose the payment, with commission for the Van Dyck. Also I am keenly anxious to see that lady, and I am ready to wave a flag of victory. And this is why. All the Boston Art Museum, soidisant connoisseurs are wild about a Van Dyck that Durand-Ruel has in New York that is coming on for an exhibition here and that they want the Art Museum to buy. 1 Everybody seems determined that it is an amazing wonder and that owning it the Art Museum will step right up to the top! So when mine comes I do want to have a little triumph; and I expect to. Of course, no one knows anything about mine. Where will you be in July, when we arrive in Europe? I hope I shall see your new book soon. How soon? Did you never get my cable that I couldn't have the Romney? Sailing directions 79


for Van Dyck are to E. A. Snow, Boston Custom House. If I get the Mill, do hurry it up, they are trying to rush 25°/o duty bill on pictures through. 2 It is sure to come, and may be very soon. I am writing this most hastily. Yours Isabella S. Gardner How about Giorgione?

I love Siena. The Paris art dealer Durand-Ruel did not sell the Van Dyck in Boston. imports began in July 1897. The law was not changed until 1909. » r.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

»2.

A tax on art

Villa Kraus, Fiesole March 28th [1897]

Three weeks ago I received one long letter from you and since then another. I have answered neither because I have been hoping, hour by hour to write you about The Mill. But I have no completely satisfactory news yet, and now I must write. The Van Dyck left London three days ago, and will be in your hands, I trust, when you read this, I have no fears that it will be surpassed by any picture that Durand-Ruel is likely to get into his hands. As for The Mill-believe me for five weeks past I have done little else but plot for it. Lansdowne is pretending he does not care to sell. As he does not positively refuse to sell, his action means that he wants more than he has been offered. The last offer \Vas just beyond £25,000 and for you. I am ready, bit by bit, to go up to £30,000 (!!) if need be. There it must stop, even if you lose the picture, and I all my trouble. I do want you to have that picture but one can not do more than the possible. I shall wire directly I know the last word on the latter. The Loschi Giorgione is, alas! sold. I infer this from the fact that neither I nor any of my agents have been able to get a word out of him. I should reproach myself bitterly for this, if the fault were mine. But the stupid people at the Art Museum kept me bound until the bird had flown. If my letter referring to this matter seemed cross it was due to an overflow of bite to their words [?]. But even here all hope is not quite lost. The picture has not gone, to my knowledge, to a public collection, and private buyers sooner or later sell. Besides I have a very faint suspicion that it has been bought by some dealer or other and I am following out this clue to the utmost. Now my tale is told. I shall write again soon. Yours sincerely, Bernhard Berenson

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

March 30, 1897

I wrote despairingly two days ago about the Giorgione. I write now to take it all back. I have every hope of getting the Giorgione, and for less than the

80


£4,000 I think it worth. Directly it is decided I shall cable to you "Christ" and the price-whereupon you will have the kindness to send the cheque at once. But I must make one condition, and give you at times a fair warning. The condition is that the picture shall before it leaves Italy pass through Cavenaghi's hands. It needs to be cleaned before people will see in it what I know is there. But that will only add to the chance of difficulties in getting the picture out of the country. If they arise you must promise to be patient. No news about the Mill, and I am not sanguine. But if we fail in this, there are other things. Now I wish to say a word [The rest of the letter is missing.]

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole April roth, 1897

To fresh woods and pastures new for there is no profit in the old. After leading me a dance macabre for eight weeks I now hear that after all at no price will Lansdowne sell his Mill. You may be disappointed, but sympathize with me in my greater disappointment! Think of all I have been through-and to no purpose. My hopes remain firm with regard to the Giorgione. Now it is, I trust, only an affair of price. I am bargaining to bring it down as low as I can. I fear, though, I shall not get it for less than £4, ooo. Meanwhile I am very eager to have you take the severe little Madonna by Cima da Conegliano of which I enclose the photograph. 1 It is on panel about 30 by 22 inches, and has his wonderful porcelain tints. Cima is after Giovanni Bellini by far the greatest of the quattrocento Venetians, and in the market his works are so rare that in my experience this is the first picture by him of any importance I have ever seen for sale. No collection is complete without him, and I beg you to take this picture while such a specimen is to be had. It is not ruinous-in fact it is very cheap, £soo. If you are sage and take it you must cable YECIMA. Would Pieter de Hooch tempt you? 2 You have Vermeer the master, 3 and if you have not the pupil already he ought to tempt you. I am on the track of a very fine one. Well thank Heavens, there are other things than business. There is Homer and Flaubert, and writing and Charles Lamb, and music and the springtime when it is so lovely that with a whole heart you can say "Stay thou art so fair." Yours sincerely Bernhard Berenson This Madonna and Child, a version of a painting in England, is now considered a work after Giovanni Battista Cima. ISG purchased the work through Colnaghi. »2 . A Woman Sewing with a Serving Girl and a Child, by de Hooch, is now owned by Messrs. Douwes of Amsterdam and Koester of Zurich. »3. ISG bought Vermeer's The Concert, at the Thon~ Burger sale, Paris, 5 December r 892. »r.

8r


152

Dear Berenson

Beacon Street Boston April 1 3 , 1 897

I have so much to say. To begin, the beautiful Van Dyck Lady salutes you. She has arrived, and I am rejoicing over her. Today came a second letter from you about the Christ, giving me hopes for it. May I indeed get it; but unless it is very soon I think I must have it lodged somewhere en attendant. Because that terrible duty of 25°/o is becoming a law! The Van Dyck was a great anxiety to me. I feared she might not arrive in time to get in; but there has been a delay in passing the law, and it appears that they cannot make it retroactive from April 1st as they wanted to do. So there is still a chance I may get the Giorgione over here. But if you get it and I cable "Send," please caution them to be more particular than they have been lately. They directed the case of the Van Dyck to E. A. Snow all right enough; but they sent all the papers about it to my name! That I particularly do not want to have done ever. I am afraid Colnaghi (if it is he who has the charge) is not very careful. And also perhaps he is not discreet-I fear he talks. I have never mentioned your name and am particularly anxious not to have myself known in Europe as a buyer. So please have everything always sent to E. A. Snow without my name. If you can get the Giorgione for me, but only too late to get it in before the duty on pictures becomes a law I must have it put away somewhere. Perhaps it might go to the Palazzo Barbaro in Venice. It could stay there until the tariff were changed. I enclose now the money for insurance on Van Dyck and I am Sincerely yours Isabella S. Gardner

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole April 21st, 1897

I have not heard yet just what we shall have to pay for the Loschi Giorgione. I fear it will be £4,000. As soon as I wire LOSCHI and price, pray send the cheque. Meanwhile I have an interesting piece of news. Having occasion to pass thro' Forli the other day I saw the Titian again, and I really yearned for you to have it. It is such a ravishing beauty. Shall we meet them half way and give them £15,000 for it-as a maximum? I have begun to treat with them again, and I have some hopes of getting the picture for just less; but they really seem ready to abide the fairy princess who will pay them £20,000. If you still want the picture, and are ready to pay £15,000 if need be cable YEFORLI.

It is spring and enchanting. A couple of days ago I walked into the mountains, smelled the fresh earth, and green of the forest. But I am almost 82


distracted by the crowd of people here just now whom I must see. They are all friends but one wishes the butter were not spread so thick. Shall you be in London in July, or where? Sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline May 3 [1897]

Here I am again, in this beautiful Brookline. Some day you must come and sit in my Italian garden, which is of course not really Italy-but 1Jery delightful and does have a taste of that dear land. I have just received your letter about Forli. How inclined I feel to say "I told you so"! Do you remember when you were urging me to give it up I always clung to it. And some day have it I must. Since the first minute I saw the photograph I have been determined! Do you remember the Van Dyck that was exactly the same grouping. I shall not wire yes, because of money. But I shall be in Paris July ro-and London July 20-D. V [deo volente] then perhaps we can talk ways and means. I did wire for the Cima. So I hope you will send her grande vitesse to get in before the tariff is passed. Fortunately they are still dickering over it. Of course I can't receive anything after it has passed, and pay 25°/o on it! When do you move northwards? Life is worth living. It is so beautiful from my window. always Sincerely yours Isabella S. Gardner

My dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole May 9th, r 897

I have just returned from a journey of exploration to Apulia. There I saw wonders and enchantments both as art and nature. While at Bari your cable about the Cima reached me, and I trust in a few days it, the Cima will be on its way to you. Last night I received your cable about the Giorgione. I already had written to have the picture sent to Cavenaghi for cleaning and restoring-both of which in my opinion it needs badly. But I do not dare disobey orders so determined as you sent me. So I have wired to have the picture sent to me here, and I will try to ship it as soon as may be. But bear in mind that it may be exceedingly difficult to get the picture out of the country-in which case long delays may occur, and ultimately I may have to reserve it for you to pack up in your trunks when you come to Venice as I hear you mean to come to Venice. But of course I will do my best. By the way tho' I cabled for ÂŁ4,000 I hope to get the picture for 100,000 lire. 1 In that case the difference will go to paying export duty insurance etc. and the residue kept to your credit. I warned you recently that I was going to submit


to your attention a Pieter de Hooch. I am sending the photograph now, and as you will see it is a great beauty, unusually large in treatment and distinguished in feeling. The colour I can guarantee. Surely there is no finer de Hooch in existence. Now, no matter how admirable is your Vermeer, the master will have no cause of being ashamed of his pupil. Now for some details. It is signed and dated, is about 3 feet by 2 V2 , and comes from the collection of the Duchesse de Polignac, in whose hotel at Paris it has been hanging almost ever since it was painted. Such a picture, with such a pedigree is a picture for you, and I can get it for you for £2, 600. If you want it, please cable, YHOOCH. Please let me know by return, whether a Watteau would tempt you? A very, very lovely one has swum into my ken which could be got for between £5,000, and £6,ooo. When are you coming, and where shall you be? Yours sincerely Bernhard Berenson P. S. I undersand that there is in Boston a man who cradles pictures as well as anyone. Ifl do not mistake his name is Walker (Gen. Loring knows him). 2 You would do well to consult him about your panels. The lira/dollar exchange was 5.4 to l, the franc / dollar exchange was 5 to l , and the pound / dollar exchange was about l to 5. » 2. Charles Howard Walker (1857-1936) established the Department of Decorative Design at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in l 884. A cradle is a wooden grid affixed to the rear of a panel painting to reduce movement and cracking. »I.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole May 26th 1 I 897

I'm having the absurdest difficulties about the Giorgione, and it still may escape. Indeed but for my eagerness to please you I should throw up the whole affair in disgust. They insist on two conditions before they will sell the picture. One is that we shall furnish them with a good copy. That is a matter of £100 at the utmost. The further and real difficulty is that they insist I shall assume all penal consequences-that is to say, they insist on saying that I have bought the picture, and if the Italian government takes them to account, they will say that they sold it to me-as in Italy to a resident they have a right to. In that case the government could hold me responsible and it might be very nasty for me. Now I assure you that I like not this, yet will do it for you. All this means great delay in sending off the picture when-if even I get it. In view of the fact that you scarcely would receive it before you left home; in view of the fact also that there positively is going to be no tariff on pictures; would it not be better to hand the picture over in Venice to a


friend of mine who will make the copy and then pass it on to you when you get to Venice, -as I understand you mean to be there this summer? That would simplify matters very much. It would be much easier for you in your vast trunks to get the picture out of Italy without risk of discovery than for me in a modest-a man's trunk is always modest-box. Furthermore that would get over legal difficulties if such arose. For I could say you were the real buyer, and that I delivered the picture to you in Italy-and for you they could whistle. If I may do what I now suggest, pray wire at once YELO s CHI. I mean to leave Italy about June r, so in writing please address to care of Baring Bros. London. Sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole May 27th, r 897

Eureka! Eureka! I have found it, as lovely a Watteau as one can possibly ask for. 1 All his winsome wistfulness, all his refinement, all his subtlety of feeling and grace of movement. How you feel the coolness of the clustering bowers and the crispness and swish of the silk. It really is a gem among Watteaus even. The photograph I am sending is of the exact size of the original. Now you must know that negatives taken of the exact size of an original invariably coarsen the quality of line. So you can in all confidence translate the photograph I am sending into an original far more dainty. Well, this gem among Watteaus I can get for you for a ridiculous priceÂŁ2, 200. I doubt whether a greater bargain will ever come into your hands. Even if you have a Watteau already, I implore you not to miss such an opportunity as this one. If you have none, then you simply must take it; for genuine Watteaus are getting so exquisitely rare that I do not have any assurance of coming across another in years. Of Watteaus it was prophecied "Many are called" (Watteaus by dealers) "but few are chosen" by the connoisseur. Pray decide quanta primo, and if you want it cable YETTEA u. I wrote in great haste yesterday. I hope you did not infer that I meant in order to save myself even to put you into the slightest difficulties. Only it would be a thousand times safer and surer if I could deposit the picture in Venice for you to carry away. Please let me know where to write to you. When do you sail? And when do you land? I am brewing something that is of the greatest importance and may require the utmost despatch. I shall be in London from July r to 21. But I shall await your coming. After that I must obey the orders of the greatest specialist in Italy who tells me there is no hope for my health but in the Engadine. Unfortunately I


have been feeling rather low recently. In writing, please address Baring Bros. London. Sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson Âť r . The Watteau has not been identified.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole June 6, 1897

A few days ago I was surprised by the visit of the owner of the Forli Titian. He came to protest that being in need of money he had decided to make the sacrifice of family honour and tradition, and sell his Titian for 400,000 = ÂŁ16,000. Having made up his mind to this he had come to tell me this by word of mouth, so that it never could be proved in writing that he had asked so little. That of anybody but me he would ask more, and hoped to get more. Yet he could not deny he needed the money, and would take ÂŁ16,000 from anybody. Now, I do not myself believe that he is very likely all at once to find a buyer for his picture at this price. Yet as I know how eager you are to have the picture, I thought it best to cable to you, and if by miracle he does sell the picture, you have been warned, and I remain blameless. I wish I had good news of the Giorgione. But for the present it is of the worst. Taking advantage of the merest quibble Count Zileri drew back from the bargain almost directly it had been made. I think it most dishonourable, and were I in perfect despair of getting the picture, I should ease my wrath by giving him a piece of my mind. But as there still is a hope I have to remain as sweet as honey and I am almost sick with disgust. I think all the pictures I have got for you put together have not been such a trouble to me. As it now stands, Zileri tells me they have decided first to divide the fa~ily estate, and then to let him who gets the Giorgione sell it. They mean to divide pretty quickly, and then whosoever gets it will, I fancy be glad enough to sell it to me-if he sells it at all. For I doubt that they will meet with a bigger offer. And I am doing my best to keep up negotiations-eating all the time about a thousand times more humble pie than is good for me. But what shall I do with the money? I felt so certain of the picture that I made Baring deposit it at once in Venice. Shall I have it returned to you, or shall I wait further developments. As I have not heard from you regarding the de Hooch I suppose you have decided against it. Now I have a terrible temptation to cast you into. You are aware that one of the great private collections of Europe is the Czernin of Vienna, visited like the Borghese or Doria by everybody. The masterpieces and great attraction of this collection is its Vermeer van Delft-"The Painter sitting by his easel with his model before him." 1 It is the most famous Vermeer in existence, and the most beautiful-one of the pictures of the world. I am sure you know it. Well, there is just a chance

86


that I could get it for you, if you were willing to pay about £30,000. I am so much in earnest over this extraordinary possibility that I beg you take the trouble of cabling your decision-Berenson, Baring Bros. London, YEMEER, or NOMEER. I leave in two or three days for the lakes, then to Paris and London, if I am well enough. At present I am pretty low. Sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson

P. S. I am opening the letter to ask of you a very great favour. My publisher has decided to put into train at once an illustrated edition of my Venetian Painters. There are to be 2 5 photogravures chosen from among the masterpieces. I very much want your Europa to be one of these. Will you let me? If, as I trust, you will, then you must be kind enough to take a little trouble. It is to have it photographed by the very best photographer you can get hold of-one who will do it by the so-called iso-chromatic, or orthochromatic process. Have him print as good a proof as he can and have him send this along with a transparent film made from the same negative to G. P. Putnam's Sons, 27 W 23d St. New York. This would really oblige me enormously, and I assure you Europa will be in good company. B.B. The Allegory of the Art of Painting remained in the Czernin Collection until it was confiscated by Adolf Hitler in 1942; it is now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. The bulk of the Czernin Collection may be seen in the Residenzgallerie, Salzburg. » r.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole June9, 1897

I received four cables yesterday. I fear for the present there is no hope of getting the Giorgione, but I expect no difficulties from the Forli picture, which I trust will speedily be yours. On receipt of this, if already you have not done so, cable instructions as to what I am to do with the picture. And if you have not already sent the money you had better deduct from it the £4,200 for the Giorgione already in my hands. I would be obliged, in case you have not done so already, if you would at the same time send the £soo for the Cima. If this sounds confused it is because my fingers are burning to write of something else. From the first moment that I interested myself in your collection, I was determined that you should have a Holbein. But how to find one! To one genuine picture a hundred are copies or imitations. His authentic works have grown so rare in the market that the National Gallery was much pleased to get so inferior and ruined a work of his as The Ambassadors .1 At last not by accident, but thro' consistent endeavour I have a chance of getting you perhaps the very finest portrait by him in existence and by a


very, very great deal the finest yet remaing in any private hands. If anyone dispute its being the greatest Holbein in existence they will certainly not put another of Holbein's portraits above it. It is the very famous Thomas More belonging to Mr. Huth. 2 I enclose a wretched print of it-all I can get hold of-and the description of it, both taken from the catalogue of the Tudor Exhibition. It is perfectly gorgeous in colour, and absolutely intact. If I can get it at all-and mark you I only hope that I can-it will be for about £20, ooo. I may get it for as little as £ l 8, ooo but that I doubt. Now, you must put all other thoughts out of your head, of the Vermeer I wrote of the other day, and of everything else, you must beg, borrow, steal, do anything, but don't lose this opportunity of getting a masterpiece by one of the few greatest masters in existence. Cable YELBEIN if the gods incline your heart and fill your purse for such an undertaking, and NOLBEIN if you can not have it. From June 20 to July l, my address will be Hotel du Quai Voltaire Paris. Please cable there. After July l, Baring Bros. London. I leave tomorrow for somewhere where it will be cooler and more bracing, to prepare me for the dire fatigues of Paris and London. Let me hear of your plans for the summer and autumn. Sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson M. Levey describes the painting as in "quite good condition" in N ational Gallery Catalog ues: The German School (London, 1959) , p. 48 . » 2. The portrait went from Henry Huth to Knoedler, the New York dealer, and was bought by Henry Clay Frick in 1912. It is now in the Frick Collection. »I.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Cadenabbia, June 16, 1897

From Bergamo yesterday I cabled to you"Loschi yours next November." Now I am writing to explain. Everything seemed at an end, and I had been treated in a way to make me feel indignant. I really felt hurt. I hated to do anything but drop the Giorgione. But I knew you wanted the picture, so I took in Vicenza on my way here, to see what, if anything, could be done further. Well, I was treated to one of the most amusing of comedies. Imagine a great stone palace, genuine Palladio, large cool halls, furnished as stylishly and tastelessly as possible. Inhabitants thereof a dowager countess, awfully polite, trying to treat you as an equal yet wishing to have you bear in mind that she is a Bourbon; smart daughter-in-law, whom mourning became to perfection; three sons, 1 one the image of his relative Don Carlos, handsome, alert, every inch the seigneur; another handsome also but provincialized; third squat, bourgeois-looking, before the creation of the world already destined to the high office now crushing him with its burden-he is now

sindaco of Vicenza. 88


Huie lacrimae-hence all our woes, as you shall hear presently. After the usual politenesses, and much beating about the bush, he came to the point. Thank heavens, they were not dealers, so that my blunt questions brought forth frank answers, and they unfolded a tale of timidity, stupidity, and cupidity, most laughable. The Giorgione had originally been willed and announced as willed to the town of Vicenza. Then the old Count Zileri changed his mind and left it to the family. Although the authorities know this, the populace of Vicenza has still the expectation of the picture. They do not understand why the transfer is delayed, and it makes the family unpopular. Add to this the fact that as Bourbons, the Zileris are ultra-clericals, therefore abhorred by the progressives. So matters were getting ready for an explosion. At last it came. Every year, they commemorate at Vicenza the heroic defence of the town against the Austrians. It was of course an occasion for radical, anticlerical demonstration. This year, Zileri being sindaco, he prevailed upon the town-council to commute the celebration into a mass at Monte Berico for the heroic dead, to be followed by the seemly crowning of their tombs with flowered wreaths. What, keep from the poor its one solace in life, blaring brass, bright flags, speeches full of gorgeous appeals to effervescent humbug! Never, down with the clericals, down with the obscurantists, down with the sindaco, so if you please Palazzo Los chi had for a whole hour and a half a mob before it, smashing windows, looting, and generally expressing unmistakably its noble sentiments of righteous indignation. Naturally this scared the poor Zileris. I have no doubt they have had thoughts of regaining the popularity which they pretend to despise and fulsomely adore, by giving the Giorgione to the town. Here cup1dity stepped in, and the picture would now be yours, in spite of everything, but for stupidity. They had got it into their heads that in the first place it was illegal to sell a picture at all. Next that if by miracle you could sell a picture you had to pay on it a tax of 20 percent. Finally that somehow or other it would forever leave them at the mercy of government prosecution. Well after some four hours of steady discourse with the cleverest of the brothers-the sindaco punctiliously kept out of it-I succeeded in persuading them all that if once they got a permit allowing the picture to be exported, the government could not possibly have any further claim upon them with regard to this picture. So we agreed that if we can get this permit-and of this I can not doubt-I-that is to say, -you will have the picture. But they can not let it go before Vicenza has quieted down, say next November. For otherwise they fear to be mob bed again, and they assured me that in spite of every effort to keep it quiet-such is the espionage in Italian towns, everybody would know it directly the picture had gone.


So that is the way matters stand. We are to have the picture next November with the obligation of furnishing within a year, an exact and good copy. As for the Forli Titian it is to be brought to me to Turin on the 21 inst. There the owner will hand it over to me with the permit to export. There will be the duty of one percent to pay, and I will then send it straight to E. A. Snow, either via Genoa or via Paris. To send it direct to Boston from Turin would add to the risks and be exceedingly inconvenient and full of delays. So if I send it by way of New York, I hope you will for this once, excuse my disobeying your orders. I hope you will have thought well of the Holbein. That is a treasure. A bientot Bernhard Berenson »I. The sons of the deceased Count Camillo Zilerj dal Verme were Enrico, Roberto, Luchino,

and Allesandro, in that order. From BB's description it is not possible to tell which was referred to in each case.

r6 Suffolk St.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Pall Mall, London S. W July 9, I 897

Welcome to Europe-if this finds you! Please let me know your Paris address at once. Durand-Ruel is very anxious to sell you some pictures. Two Goyas for 30,000 fr. really seem worth while. The portrait of a woman is as excellent a Goya as I have ever seen. The man is not so good, but good enough, they make a pair. 1 But they want to sell you two Greuzes as well, also inseparable, a mother and her little daughter. 2 They now belong to the Due de la Tremoille, and doubtless Durand-Ruel will offer to take you to see them. Well they are worth seeing, but as for buying, I, at least should not-unless indeed I could get the mother alone for £4,000. £7,000 is the least price for the two. The Holbein is still in suspense, but I have not lost hopes. I hope you will come here soon. Sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson »I. Goya's portraits Charles IV and Queen Marie-Louise are now in the Taft Museum, Cincin-

nati.

»2.

Greuze's mother and little daughter have not been identified.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Garlant's Hotel Suffolk Street Pall Mall July I2, I 897

It was too bad to have to bother you directly on your arrival. But owing to all sorts of complications I could not ship [the Forli picture] directly from 90


Italy to America. Here new difficulties arose owing to the picture coming straight from Italy, being considered therefore an Italian good, having no regular seller in London etc. etc. It ate up dozens of hours of my time at the American and Italian consulates in the city. However at last it was all arranged, when I read about the passing of the tariff bill. It put me into a fever. But in accordance with your wire the picture leaves Liverpool for Boston on the 14th, on the Sylvania. Bad news about the Holbein! Money simply can't get it, now. But if you live you shall have it. For the present I have other irons in the fire. But if the prohibitive duty is put on pictures I doubt your wanting them. Let me know when I may count on seeing you. If possible I would like to leave England on the 24th. But naturally I want to see you first. Forgive all these vexations if you can. Yours sincerely B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Garland's Hotel Suffolk Street Pall Mall j ul y I 3 , I 897

I read in today's paper that great differences have arisen about the tariff, which is not likely to become law therefore as soon as I feared. Forli Titian will be all right at all events. I leave today for a tour of exploration in Dorset, and shall be back Monday .morning at the latest. Let me find a note from you here telling me where you are and when I may come to see you. Of course I want to see you as much as possible and it will be delightful to see the things together. There is plenty. A bient8t B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Munich July 28, I 897

If you can, when you are here, avoid the rest of the exhibition, look at the Lenbachs. They are very clever. In a room close by devoted to decorative art, there are two embroidered hangings, a rug, and an oaken chest by Hermann Obrist, all of which I think worth seeing. The Alte Pinakothek is open almost every day. Look there at Titian's Crowning with Thorns, at his portrait of Charles V, and at a large Madonna. Look also among the Northerners, at the series representing the life of Mary, by a painter they call Meister des Leben Maria-a German Crivelli. Look at all the pictures by that wonderful creature Dirck Bouts, and at an Adoration of the Magi by Gerard David. I look back with the keenest pleasure on the day we spent together. It 91


fully confirmed my first impression of you, eleven years ago, and since then I have lived much and seen much. 1 I hope to hear from you soon. Please address Hotel Caspar Badrutt, S. Moritz. Sincerely yours, Bernhard Berenson » l . In this letter BB confirms that he met ISG eleven years previously.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Hotel Caspar Badrutt S. Moritz. Aug. II, I897

I know all about the "Raphael." It is the so-called Candelabra Madonna and the heirs of Col. Monroe have been years trying to sell it. 1 I know people who have been approached. Perhaps the National Gallery would buy it. Its director and trustees are capable of anything. The point is that in the Candelabra Madonna there is of Raphael nothing but the idea of the composition. All the execution and even the blocking out of the composition is the work of pupils. The next thing we shall hear is that the Boston Museum of Fine Arts has bought it for $Ioo,ooo. My acquaintance was asked £8,ooo for it. I think £800 a fairer price. Just arrived in this heaven, for so at first blush it seems. What wonderful scenery all the way from Landeck. We took three days getting here, enjoyed it pace by pace, and here I am, I who have seen so much, wondering and marvelling that the world is so beautiful-inexhaustibly. Yours sincerely Bernhard Berenson The Candelabra Madonna, largely the work of Raphael's shop, was bought by Henry Walters (1848-193 l) in 1901. Son of the collector William Walters, Henry was also a collector and founder of the Walters Art Gallery. » r.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Hotel Caspar Badrutt S. Moritz Aug. IS, I897

I have not heard from you for some time, which I regret on my account, but as I know how very busy you must have been at Bayreuth-whither, by the way I addressed you two letters-I blame you not. But the owner of the Piero di Cosimo that I submitted to you is clamouring for an answer. 1 If you decide against it, please return the photograph to me-I enclose the bill for the insurance on Maria d'Austria, to which must be added £25 that I paid on insurance and freight from Turin to London. You wanted to know the size of this picture. It is 1.97m. high, and 1.11 wide. This place is agreeing with me to perfection, and already I am feeling 92


more joy in physical existence than has fallen to my lot ever since I was half as old. I climb mountains scarcely knowing that I am going up. I do all sorts of things but no work, and I am getting splendidly rested. I have the pick of Italy constantly with me, the Colonnas, Pallavicinis, Pasolinis, the Placcis, and the enchantress Grazioli whom I enjoy very much. 2 My sister is with me, and despite her lack of French and Italian and their small English, she is a great favourite among them all. 3 We leave on the 28th and I accompany my sister to Antwerp whence she sails Sept. 4. Then I mean to spend a fortnight at Karlsruhe hearing Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven, and Berlioz-he my favourite among composers since Beethoven. After the 26th please address me c. o. Barings. By Sept. 20 or so, I hope to be with you. I look forward to this. Sincerely yours B.B. Battle of the Centaurs and Lapiths was given to the National Gallery, London, in 1937· »2. Prince Marcantonio Colonna, of the ancient Roman family; Princess Pallavicini, who lived in the Palazzo Pallavicini, Rome, and who was known as a great hostess; Countess Pasolini dall'Onda, who entertained sumptuously in her palazzo in Piazza Pasolini, Rome, and whose family owns a villa near Ravenna; BB's longtime friend Carlo Placci (18611941), leading figure in Florentine society, who broke with BB over Benito Mussolini sometime before World War II; and Duchess Nicoletta Grazioli, born Princess Giustiniani Bandini. »3. BB's eldest sister, Senda (1866-1954), who taught physical education at Smith College. » r. Piero di Cosimo's

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Hotel C. Badrutt S. Moritz. Aug. 19, 1897

How appalling that you did not receive the two letters addressed to Bayreuth. Please do write for them-post restante. In the first I begged you to see certain things at Munich; in the second I wrote about the Raphael that had been proposed to you. No, alas, your Titian did not go with the Sylvania, but a week later. Fear not, I shall be fancy free by Sept. 20th. It is true just now the Grazioli, with her later Stewart face, slender figure, graceful movements, and fascinating ways-what a catalogue!-leave my fancy all but free. But much music will intervene, and space, before Sept. 20; and if ought remained you will quickly medicine me to forgetfulness. It is really charming here, but as you prophesied, they, the people, already pall. The fact is that I enjoy them as a spectacle-and as music-but en tete-a-tete they bore me each and all-at times even the Grazioli. The fact is that I dread tete-a-tetes for the very reason that I enjoy them so supremely when I have just the right people. But they are so few. Perhaps three in my whole acquaintance-and you are one. I'm sure you feel honoured! Your purse must get a new bottom for I have all sorts of proposalsmost decent-to make presently. The air makes me feel as poignantly as when I was a child, the sym93


phony of nature, smells, easy breathing, soft touch on skin, all perfect. After 26th, Baring Bros. Sincerely yours, B.B. [Postscript on side of first page:] Placci begs to be remembered. He will try to come to Venice. We have just been hearing Camilla Landi. 1 Of course he is mad with enthusiasm-so am I. » r. Camilla Landi (b . r 866) , concert singer born of Milanese parents (both singers), was in

Paris from r 886 to r 892, traveled widely, and later settled in her birthplace, Geneva.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

S. Moritz. Aug. 27, 1897

Just before leaving England last month I had the pleasure of seeing a collection which I had long desired to visit, but had found hard to approach. It is the "collection of Mrs. Austen and of the Trustees of the late Mr. Austen." 1 Among delightful pictures of less importance, I found two cassone panels the sight of which took my breath away; for I saw at a glance that not only were they the finest, but the best preserved pictures by the -Giorgione of Florence, the very rare and wonderful Pesellino. Of course they have thus far escaped the notice of the two or three people who really know this kind of picture when they see it. I told Mrs. Austen what a treasure she possessed. What was it worth? I answered that £8, ooo would be a very fair price. Indeed that if she would consent to part with it I might buy it from her at that price. £8,ooo, ready money, agricultural depression, etc. etc. have induced her to think of selling these pictures, and it is for you-o Ladyto buy them. Now let me tell you a little of Pesellino. He was the pupil of Fra Filippo Lippi while the latter himself was at his freshest and gayest; but he was far more refined, more distinguished, more poetical than Fra Filippo. He died very young, disappointing a greater promise than any of his contemporaries except Masaccio ever gave. Dying so young, he left but few works behind him, today they have become so scarce, that including the two panels I am offering to you, his masterpieces, the number of his pictures to me known is only twelve, less even than Giorgiones. In style Pesellino combines the refinement of Fra Angelico, the gaiety of Benozzo, with the winsomeness of Fra Filippo. In the panels of which I send you the photographs, Pesellino is at his very best. You have in them all the exquisite qualities, a sort of Liebig's extract 2 of all that is most delightful in the earlier Quattrocentists of Florence. Not only Pesellino, but Fra Angelico, Filippo, Benozzo, even Masaccio peep out' in these panels. The grace, the refinement of the figures, the daintiness of the golden colouring, the beauty of the line, and the naive charm of the representation have scarcely a rival. Loveliest of all is the Triumph of religion, with the earth below rounded off by the ocean upon which the galleons sail proudly. For these panels as you see, are the translation into visual form by one man of genius, of the poetical creation of 94


another, The Triumphs of Petrarch: Love, Chastity, Death, Chivalry, Time, and Religion. 3 As the panels are about 7 ft. long, the photographs I am sending give only a very remote idea of the beauty of these gems. Placed one above the other over a mantle, they would be perfect as furniture. I am willing to stake all your confidence in me, that if you get them you will bless me as long as you live. I will tell you why I priced them at £8,ooo. Last year Lord Brownlow paid this figure in guineas for two panels by Pesellino, which used to be in the Torrigiano Collection at Florence, but of inferior quality to these, and in bad condition. Mrs. Austen's are worth half as much again. Now, decide, and let me know your decision, addressing it to Baring Bros. London. For I leave tomorrow, first to embark my sister at Antwerp, then for the music at Karlsruhe. It has been delightful here, but I feel a wild longing for Venice, and for Italy in general. I look forward to halcyon days with you. Sincerely yours, B.B. The paintings belonged to J. F. Austen, whose wife and trustees sold them after his death. Baron Justus von Liebig (1803-73), German chemist, perfected a highly nourishing extract of meat. »3. ISG purchased Pesellino's The Triumphs of Love, Chastity, and Death and The Triumphs of Fame, Time, and Eternity from Colnaghi on BB 's recommendation. »I.

»2.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus Oct. 31, 1897

The journey was pleasant. While daylight lasted I alternated between looking out on the soft golden landscape and reading Stevenson's Treasure Island. Then I napped, and the train was only half an hour late. By ten, I was walking up the slope of my hill under the big, silent stars. Roses and medlars embalmed the air, and when I came to my rooms I found them haunted by all the fragrance of all the flowers which need the first nip of frost to bring them to joy. This morning it is so lovely that my only wish is that you were here to see it. You then would understand how I shall regret descending to meaner levels. I have just been looking over my mail, and to my delight I find, at last, a reproduction of the Holbein I have already preluded to you. The portrait of the Infant Edward, afterward Edward VI. 1 The reproduction will serve only to give you an idea of the face and composition. And here I must add that in the original, the copy of verses at the bottom, does not occupy the space, and have the importance that it seems to here. The colour you must imagine, green, gold, and turquoise, all in Holbein's grandest chryselphantine manner. I am not sure there is in all the world a Holbein more splendid as art, or 95


more interesting as history. Its only rival is the portrait of More which I tried to get for you, but which Mr. Hewett has already willed to the National Gallery. So this little Edward remains the best Holbein which luck can ever bring to your hands. Whether I can get it for you at any price is a dubious matter. I fear the chance is small, and you must be more prepared to fail than to succeed in getting it, but if you want it I will make every effort. Only it must be done at once, and we must make it worth Lord Yarborough's while to sell it. For £10,000 it would be fabulously cheap; for £20,000 it would not be too dear. So you would have to let me range between these two figures. Think, make up your mind, and let me know at once. I wonder how your ambassadressal drive and your ambassadorial dinner went off. Let me know. With kindest regards to Mr. Gardner and to Zozo. 2 Ever yours Bernhard Berenson P. S. I forgot to pay [illegible] for my luggage. Pray give him the enclosed five lire. » l. This portrait, a copy of the painting now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington,

D.C., was finally sold at auction by the earl of Yarborough at Christie's in 1929. Its present location is unknown. »2. "Zozo" is Joseph Lindon Smith.

[Rome] All Saints' Day Nov. l [1897] Too busy for words, dear Berenson. Your delightful letter this moment came. Yes, yes, yes-I must have that darling Holbein Child. Pull your little WlfeS.

I wish I could smell your neftiers; 1 and that you could smell the room full of all sorts of flowers that friends have offered because it is the Day of All Saints. They appreciate that I come in there! We all leave tomorrow for Genoa. The dear old Principessa Pallavicini came to see me yesterday. Also the Turks-also Primoli (Gigi). 2 We lunch with him as soon as we can get to the Torre di Nova in 5 min! Everyone sends their remembrances. Have any bureaux appeared? The ambassadoress lifted a dull, commonplace dinner into the heights of the impossible by occasional sallies across the table to me. The ambassador took me. 3 I go to drive this P. M. with Jane "Bourbon del Monte Santa Maria." 4 Does it not ring out well? Yours Isabella Medlars. »2. Count Giuseppe Napoleone Primoli (18 5 l-1927) was a descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte and a famous photographer. His house in Rome, which contains his collection, is now owned by a foundation and is open to scholars. »3. Virginia (Cameron) »I.


MacVeagh and Wayne MacVeagh (1833-1917); he was U.S. ambassador to Italy, 1893-97. Âť4. Jane Campbell, from Kentucky, married Carlo Bourbon del Monte, prince San Faustino . She became a figure in Roman society.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus, Fiesole Nov. 9, 1897

I am delighted to hear from you, even tho' it be a boring picture that is concerned. I will attend to that first. I have nothing to add to the history of the Colonna picture 1 that is not already in Mr. Sedelmeyer's pamphlet. But in the last resort history has nothing to do with the genuineness or artistic value of a picture. So let me talk not as an archivist, or historian, but as an expert. Well, as an expert, I affirm that while doubtless Raphael superintended the execution of this altarpiece, laid it in himself, and painted some upon it, the altarpiece as a whole when it left his studio could not have been called an autograph work by Raphael. Shall I go into details? They would bore you. Still I will speak of one or two. Note that the hands are formless, and run like pancakes before frying has given them consistency. The draperies are very meagre. The best work is in the faces. Now when we were together at the Corsini in Rome looking at that copy of Holbein's Henry VIII I remarked to you that the flesh-parts were far superior to the rest because copyists gave these parts greater attention. The same sort of things happened in school-pictures. The master himself would do the faces and leave the remainder to pupils. Indeed I know m.any contracts where it was specially stipulated that the artist should paint at least the faces with his own hand. So much for the Colonna "Raphael" when it left the master's studio. Since then it has suffered every vicissitude, and even now that it has been restored as well as it can be, I venture to doubt whether a seeing eye can now discern a square quarter of an inch of the original painting. But leaving aside the question of the authenticity and condition of the picture, let us look at it as a work of art, on its own merits. Remember that Raphael was not a great painter in the sense that Titian or Veronese, Velasquez or Rubens were. Even as a poet one would not place him with the very highest, with people so diverse yet equals in poetic feeling, as Giorgione, Michelangelo or Rembrandt. Raphael is great, and greater than anybody else in his composition. Now, I beg you to look at the Colonna Madonna, and then tell me whether you find therein that spacious eurhythmy, that airy buoyancy which Raphael gives you in the Sposalizio, in the Belle ]ardiniere, in his Stanze, and in scores of other works? Instead you have a squat, crowded cornposition, with a top heavy baldachin, and no escape whatever to the au de la. There, I have given you my say, a say which was not without influence in London when interested persons tried to bring pressure upon the Na97


tional Gallery to buy this picture. I trust I may save you all from this purchase-unless indeed you could get it at £10,000-to put the utmost price upon 1t. Now for pleasanter things! I am so happy that you are in Paris already, all tunnels behind you. I am bubbling over with amusement over the Grazioli. She probably "had no use for me in Venice," but also I had none for her. You were quite sufficient unto me. And, then, as for the Grazioli, I take her as a picture, and surely do not accuse her of more interest in one than a picture would take in its spectator. Three sheets is my limit, so I will stop now, and write again in ·a few days. No news yet of the Holbein, and none from the Loschi, altho' I wrote to these wretches ten days ago. Ever yours B.B. » l. The Colonna altarpiece, The Madonna and Child Enthroned, with Saints Catherine, Peter,

Cecilia, Paul, and the Infant Saint John the Baptist, was purchased by J. P. Morgan in donated to The Metropolitan Museum of Art by his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr., in 1916.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

1901

and

Villa Kraus Fiesole Nov. 14, 1897

No luck! Yarborough will not hear of selling his Holbein. So that matter ends. On the other hand I have heard from the Loschis, writing from some place or other in the extreme south of Italy. They remind me that I myself arranged Dec. l as the date when we were finally to arrange about the picture. And they further remind me that I did not expect to be back from Spain before the end of Nov. The only difficulties that now can aris.e will come either from their hopeless stupidity, or from the refusal to export. But I trust all will be well. Thus far, at all events, Enrico's bark has remained a bark. That is all I have to say in the way of BUSINESS. Not that the rest is pleasure far from it. For one thing Baldwin1 tells me that my only hope for health is in massage, and I must for the present have it every day. The whole affair will take three hours out of my day,-and not out of my work. This would be prospering were it not that my ingenious landlord had hit upon the idea of entirely rebuilding the apartment below me. The masons begin to pound away at seven in the morning and continue till night fall, and they pound as if it was the tower of Babel that was a-building. And there is no escape; for my new house will scarcely be ready before Xmas. I have but just set things agoing there, the stoveman and the white-washer. The weather has changed for the worst after many days of sunshine so bright and warm that you could not believe it would ever end, and moonlight so bright that on the sky-line it glowed with soft rainbow hues. Naturally I have been seeing friends. Your beloved Pasolini was here for


two or three days, and she pumped me. Placci thinks he is very ill, and is going off presently to Algiers. Meanwhile he is very happy with Mme. de Montebello who is staying at that loveliest of all villas the Gamberaia, with the Princess Ghika, a mysterious being, almost as weird and invisible as Rider Haggard's She. 3 I have been there several times, and it is a great treat to hear the brilliant French woman talk in a language unrivalled, of politics, and men. By the way a friend of hers, and an acquaintance of yours Serge Wolkonski is also here now. 4 Did you ever see him act? He does it well. The other night, at the Gamberaia he and Placci acted .some charades, and in one the great Miss Paget came in. 5 Of course all is up between her and me. Mrs. Costelloe6 has been having with her and her victim Miss Thomson 7 an interminable correspondence about those articles of theirs. To prove her innocence Miss Thomson burst out with "But if I have stolen from Mr. Berenson, why am I now suffering from brain-exhaustion?" A German writes to beg my permission to let him translate my Lotto, and an American wants information to insert me in a dictionary of American Authors. Behold, what an important person I am. I have finished Virgil, and the last book of the Georgics-all about bees-is for its length as fine a stretch of poetry as there is anywhere. Almost all of it is nearly of the quality of Keats's "Ode to Autumn." I am now beginning both Lucretius and Pindar, the latter even more difficult than beautiful. Addia. Remember me to Bryant, and believe me Ever yours Bernhard Berenson BB's physician, Dr. William Wilberforce Baldwin. »2 . Marie-Stani (Cambaceres), Countess Stanislas de Montebello. »3. Princess Ghika bought the Villa Gamberaia in Settignano. »4. Prince Mikhailorites of Wolkonski (b. 1860) . »5. BB had a violent falling out with Vernon Lee (Violet Paget). Mary Berenson eventually arranged a truce. (See BB to ISG, 28 April 1889 and note 2.) »6. This is the first mention in the correspondence of Mrs. Costelloe (Mary Pearsall Smith) (1865-1945), BB's future wife. »7. C. AnstrutherThomson, coauthor with Vernon Lee of an article that BB took as plagiarism of his ideas. » l.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Fiesole] Nov. 15, 1897

Today I received proofs of the plates which are to illustrate my Venetian Painters. To my surprise I found among them, after all, the Europa. I sent it to you at once, and when you have looked at it please return it. As you will see it is not very satisfactory, but still tolerable. I do not know for the life of me whether they mean to reproduce it or not. We shall see. I lunched today with some dear Scotch ladies of great family, who told splendid ghost-stories and talked of one close relative "as the filthiest man 99


you ever saw." Thereafter in a book shop I stumbled upon Ned Warren, looking quite gray. 1 The odd thing is that yesterday on my table I found the name Waren on an envelope. Supposing that Ned had come to see me, and having no card had given his name to my servant, who immediately wrote it down, I asked the servant. He assured me nobody had been, and that the name was of a friend of his once to whom he had begun to write on my paper, and my desk. Ned assured me he had only arrived today. He would not tell me where he was going to from here. He even dodged telling me where he was staying. He remembers you with terror as a person who had tried to get some secret out of him. It has been a warm and sunny, but damp day, but so fragrant! Yours ever B.B. ÂťI.

Ned Warren had helped BB financially when he first came to Europe.

[Fiesole] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Nov. 17, 1897

I am truly pleased that you will have nothing to do with the "Colonna Raphael." But I should have said no more about it. To reward you I am sending you the photograph of a Madonna by Gerard David. 1 Look it square in the face, and if you like it, read, otherwise skip the rest of this paragraph. Gerard David is by far the most refined and subtle of the early Flemish painters. He takes the highest rank among them, and his pictures are exceedingly rare. The picture I am submitting to you is in splendid preservation, in colour like a Cima, in feeling like a Bellini or Lotto. If it takes your fancy you can have it for ÂŁ8 50. But it is going, going-and if you want it, I must hear subito. x x x What fun you must be having at Worth's-the enchantresse's-note I say enchantresse's kitchen. I would I were in it. And what about the hat? I lunched yesterday with Ned Warren, and he unbosomed himself just a chink. All the time he talked nothing but shop, but he is nice, means well, and I am really attached to him. Massage keeps me bruised and tired, but I have the superstition that somewhere there is something to reward sincere effort-even if it is only to get well. Yours always B.B. ÂťI.

This painting has not been identified.

Dear Berenson

[Paris] Nov. 21 [1897]

I am sending back the two photographs. It was sweet of you to send them for me to see. I really do think I ought not to buy the picture. I think I 100


would do better to keep the money for Pesellinos and the Holbein. You see I do not give that up. Please keep your eye on it-don't let it escape me if it is ever sold. Will you stretch your friendly kindness and do something else for me? I have a letter and wire from Costantini1 that he can't get the Bellano Pieta out of Italy!2 When Joe Smith was en route for us he was wired to meet friends in Florence. He rushed there for a day and was taken to Costantini's. There he saw a Santa Brigita, which on his description I bought. 3 That Costantini is sending to me, he says, but "the Bellano he fears is impossible." Mr. Gardner thinks he is playing a game and probably wants to get out of it to sell it to someone else. So, dear friend, will you look this up. I am loathe to think he is trying to sell it to someone else. But please grab it. Don't let any one else have it, and if it really can't be got out of Italy, take it away from him and have it put somewhere in greatest secrecy for the present. Tell no one and let no one see it-please. We are leaving this moment for London. Yours Isabella Âť r. Emilio Costantini, a Florentine art dealer.

Âť2. A terra-cotta group, The Entombment of

Christ by Giovanni Minelli, commissioned for Carlotta Lusignan's tomb in the now demolished church of Sant' Agostino, Padua. Âť3. A terra-cotta bust of a nun, seventeenth-century Italian, probably not Santa Brigitta.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Fiesole] Nov. 24, I897

On receipt of your letter I went down to Costantini's at once, but found that he had gone out of town. Today he was in and he had a long and doleful tale to tell me of conspiracy and Bardini, and God knows what. 1 One certainty I gathered from it all-that he is perfectly loyal. He will do anything you please. He suggests that if you could have it sent to some ambassador friend of yours either in Paris or London that would obviate all difficulties as anything may be sent to ambassadors without examination at either end. If you have no such resource he will manage to send the Bellano to you piecemeal, take care that poco apoco it gets to you all right. Of course if you prefer me to take it and store it, you need only say so, and I will do it with every secrecy. In that case you must send an order for me to deliver to Costantini asking him to hand the Bellano over to me. But my own opinion is that he had better send it out piecemeal. I rely on him not only because I think him honourable but because he realizes clearly that in the long run he has far more interest to please you than to make something now at the risk of losing you. Now I want to write of a picture I can get for you and that I wish you to buy, a picture which at the bottom of my heart I prefer to every Titian, every Holbein, every Giorgione. It is a gorgeous thing more wonderful IOI


than any Japanese lacquer, decorative as no other picture whatsoever, resplendent in its gold background, its gold armour and brocades. It is a St. George and the Dragon by Crivelli. 2 You never in your life have seen anything so beautiful for colour, and in line it is drawn as if by lightning. Ever since I have been looking out pictures for you, I have been angling for it, and at last I am pretty sure I can get it. And what is more I can get it for £3, 500, a sum little enough when you know how very rare Crivelli has become, how enormous his market value is becoming, when you know moreover that of the few works now remaining in private hands, this is in every way the best. By the way, I frankly prefer this one Crivelli to any other whatsoever. It is on panel 36 by l 81/2 inches. I am sending a poor reproduction, which you must in any case return to me. And you must wire your decision at once, or we may lose the chance. YECRIVELLI, or NO CRIVELLI. Sufficient unto the day is the scribbling thereof, Ever yours B. B. » r. Stefano Bardini, a collector. The museum bearing his name in Florence houses those works

not sold during his lifetime. »2. Crivelli's Saint George and the Dragon was originally part of the great altarpiece painted in 14 70 for the high altar of the parish church at Porto San Giorgio, a small town on the Adriatic coast. The central panel, The Madonna and Child Enthroned, is now in the National Gallery of Art. The other panels are dispersed among several museums. ISG purchased the work from Colnaghi on BB 's recommendation.

Dear Berenson

[Gloucestershire] Nov. 27 [1897]

Your letter and the Crivelli get to me here this morning. I have this moment finished reading the letter and without loss of an eyewink I have already sent a wire YECRIVELLI! A thousand thanks for what you say about the Costantini affairs, and for your work about it. I must think a little before deciding what is best. Neither London nor Paris ambassadors are friends of mine, so it would be difficult. This castle is the most middle age thing imaginable. 1 My room is the "great State Room." Queen Elizabeth had it and slept in my bed-an amazing creation. All the walls tapestried, and a door behind the arras that opens on a passage that winds through the thickness of the wall to the dungeon keep. I have not heard Edward II's screams! I got lost 2 l times yesterday, on a tour of inspection. Masses of family portraits and portraits of kings and queens. It is too dark to see them. On top the legend of the people painted; underneath the painters' names-Holbein, Zuccaro, etc. down to Gainsborough, Sir Joshua, Sir Peter [Lely] etc. But the bowling green seen from my window is best of all. There was a meet of the Berkeley Hounds yesterday. Here since all time, they hunt in 102


yellow instead of pink! We go back to Paris next Wednesday, and to America Dec. 15. always Yours Isabella Âť r. Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, seat of the Berkeley family since the twelfth century. The

castle belonged to the illegitimate branch of the family (Fitzhardinge) in the nineteenth century and was returned to the earl of Berkeley in 1916.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus Fiesole Nov. 29, 1897

I thank you for taking the Crivelli because it gives me as much joy almost as if I were to possess the darling picture myself. It is the only one I shall envy you. The others may be greater, but this one I, I, I love the most. Now as it never rains but always pours-as it has been doing today, - I have to write of two other masterpieces, and first the greater. It is a picture the existence of which I had not heard of till recently, and had I been told that such a masterpiece could exist without my knowing of it I should have shrugged my shoulders as I did over the Maria d' Austria. This time it is a Venus in the classic attitude of pulling out a thorn from her foot. She is the daintiest, most feminine, loveliest nude you ever saw, and of a colour in the flesh golden as if truly underpainted with sunlight. Such a nude and such flesh-painting only one master was capable of. But before I mention his name look at the photograph I am sending, and see how Venus sits under the clearing of the forest by the shore of the opalescent sea. The photograph is a peculiarly treacherous one, and does great injustice to that delicate, subtle modelling which only Correggio was' capable of. By Correggio it is, and one of his finest works, done at his most exquisite moment, just before that series, of the Borghese Danae and the Berlin Leda, of which it is the sister. 1 Now Correggio's even scrappiest early works are so rare now, outside of national collections, that the meanest of them, when it does appear in the market, is almost priceless; but this Venus is an astounding masterpiece, by a painter surely to be ranked with Titian, Giorgione and Raphael among Italian artists. And this particular picture has a peculiarly loveable quality about it. If you are ever going to possess a Correggio this is a chance not likely to occur again. The owner of this particular picture more than knows its value and even believes it to be by Raphael. I can not blame him, for Raphael and Correggio were cousins, so to speak, and never approach so closely as here. We-he and I-have scarcely talked of price yet, but I know it will take a great deal of money to get the jewel. Fortunately nobody else has seen it yet, and I have the promise that 103


nobody else shall until I have refused it. I naturally should try to get it for the least, and in view of that, I have to the owner, been doing little but deploring the varnish, and the retouches on the picture. These are no worse here than on any other pictures of the epoch, still enough to aid me in decrying the picture. If you want it, and are ready to pay for it let me know at once. I would scarcely advise paying more than £10,000 for it-unless you want it at what it can be got for. It is on canvas, l meter high, and 74 cm. wide. About the other picture I have little hope that you will want it. A singular lacuna in your taste is Watteau. I worship him, and it is of a very fascinating picture by him that I am sending you the photograph. 2 I am doing it out of a sense of duty. I must let no opportunity escape you. You see it is an open air picture of a couple dancing the pavane to the fluting and piping of musicians while another couple are flirting. It combines famous motives, and you seem to see the music-the picture is so lyrical. It is 40 cm. high, and 60 cm. wide, in exquisite preservation, and painted on a gilt panel which in places shines slightly through giving it much distinction. If I can get it at all-of which I am not quite certain-it will not be for less than £8,ooo. Miss James's little Watteau no better in quality, and only about half the size, sold recently at Christie's for £ 5, 2 50. I have said nothing about the colour. It is very light and exquisitepinks, and blue on whites making an enchanting harmony, and have the effect as you look, of the finest violin music. Please look at this also, and let me know your decision quanta primo. And please return the photographs of the pictures, either or both, if you won't have them. The wretched Loschis are still in Sicily, but except for the permesso d'esportazione, I expect only delays, not difficulties. How you must be enjoying your friends at Berkeley! Write me thereof, if you have a moment. Yours ever B.B. » r. Girl Taking a Thorn from Her Foot is in very bad condition. It is certainly not by Correggio, although it had already been published as by him when Mrs. Gardner bought it from Giagliardi, Florence. The design originated with Raphael and survives in a print by Marco da »2. The Watteau has not been identified. Ravenna.

Dear Berenson

[Paris] Deeb 3 [1897]

I have neuralgia in my face and don't feel quite up to writing, but I mustif only a big "Thank you" for the photographs. They are charming-and first of all, please let me say you have not in the least understood me vis a vis Watteau! I have not that "Lacuna" au contraire, I like him very much. But 104


not on the Titian line-(I can't find a decent pen). And when it is a question of not money enough to go round don't you too think there are others better for that price? Please think as I do. Of course I should adore having such a Watteau if it did not cost so much. Perhaps some day another that you love may turn up, cheaper. Am I not wise? [Page 2 is missing.] If you are sure they are out of the country and on their way to me please give him the enclosed ten thousand Lire for the Sta. Brigita bust-I think that is right. Let me know if otherwise; also where the things are. I returned the Crivelli photo, and am now sending the Watteau. How are you? I leave you now to see the doctor. Yours Isabella Don't you think it a little "scrubious" about Costantini. Why all that fuss? Why not originally smuggle, if he were playing fair with me? I.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Villa Kraus Fiesole Dec. 7, 1897

I was more than usually glad to hear from you, because to tell you the truth I was very anxious about you, having read of the Channel being so very bad. As you say nothing about it, I trust your crossing was not too miserable. Today I saw Costantini and the Bellano 1 certainly has gone, and direct to America. The frame for it will follow presently. The ways of Italians are hard to understand; but this much seems clear, that Bardini and his camorra have been trying to make it hot for him. I can believe that Bardini is furious, for ten days ago I wrote to ask him an insignificant favour-a photograph, and he has not even answered me. As for Costantini, I believe him to be honourable-and I'm not quick to ascribe such virtue to Italian dealers. Your cheque for him by the way was not enclosed in the letter, and he tells me it should be 12,ooo, and not lO,ooo. Now to our own affairs. I'm happy that you are taking the Pesellinos, and will take the Correggio, but grieved, grieved for the Watteau. He is not Titian 'tis true, but Herrick is not Shakespeare; yet there are moods, and they come often, when one prefers the magician of sweetness to the enchanter of grandeur. I beg you to be good enough to send me the ÂŁ8, ooo for the Pesellinos and the ÂŁ3, 500 for the Crivelli, now. Then if you would be kind enough to send me a cheque for the Loschi picture. I want a cheque, so that I could return it to you in case, which the gods forfend, the sale does not come off. Zileri has just written to tell me he would be back before the end of this 105


month, so there is time. But please let me know where I am to send the Giorgione. Shall it be as the Pesellinos to Boston? By the way I have had the Crivelli sent to Fernand Robert. 2 This was on the supposition that you were going to leave the pictures in Paris. So I hastened that you might receive the darling before you left. A truce to business. I am getting better and stronger I think, but slowly. My work is also slow, but I enjoy myself and learn much by the way. Then when a day such as it has been today comes it consoles one for everything. It has been since sunrise, and now it is night, an ever deepening mystery of beauty, with the sun a hierophant, the breezes as acolytes, and the trembling trees as neophytes. The hills looked transfigured under the thin, pure light. My new house is at the painting stage, but will not be ready before Christmas. Good-bye, enjoy your last days in Paris, and now and then cast a thought to your affectionate friend. B.B. Âť r. The Bellano refers to Minelli's terracotta group The Entombment of Christ .

Âť2. Fernand

Robert, an import-export agent.

Dear Berenson

[Paris] Deeb ro [1897]

I have this moment received your letter and am most astonished and distressed that you did not find the cheque for ten thousand Lire in the letter. I particularly remember putting it in, as I folded it differently from my usual way. It must have been taken out. We have been to the banker's, who has telegraphed to have payment stopped. And he is to send me a duplicate, to which I will add 2, ooo Lire for Costantini. Tres louche cette affaire la-and it leaves an impression I shall not soon get over. I think he has made a great mistake to practice on me. As to the Loschi people, they seem to be of the same crew. I have just been with Dreyfus 1 to see some things chez friends of his. They were talking about getting pictures out of Italy-I asked how they did it. They said, "nothing easier. Always put the picture in the bottom of your trunk." So, if the Loschi permesso does not come, that must be done, but rst and foremost, get the picture away from them; and then it can go to Fernand Robert 30 rue Joubert. I hope the Crivelli may arrive before we leave next Wednesday at Cock Crow. I am wiring you to know what the Pesellinos were to be. I cannot find your letter about them. Probably at the bottom of some trunk. Everything here is in such dire confusion, with packing and packers everywhere. The Crivelli was to be ÂŁ3, 500 the Loschi 4,000 and when I know about the Pesellinos I will add all together and send. You don't understand about the Watteau. I should love it-but I must choose between it and the Pesellinos. Do you blame me for my choice? Certainly, one more easily finds 106


Watteau. I hope nothing more will turn up until my money affairs get into a better condition. And then, I must get ready for that happy time when I can buy the Raphael, and the Holbein-you see I still cling to the latter. Will you be sure no one else ever gets it? And that I shall-Yes? Our channel passage was bad enough, but the day before and the day after the boats did not run! Be my real, real friend, always, and believe that I am yours. Isabella » r. Gustave Dreyfus, Parisian art collector and ISG's friend.

Villa Kraus Fiesole Dec. ro, 1897 Eureka! dear friend, I think I have found a Holbein which may be got, if you will have it. It at present forms part of the Schonborn Collection at Vienna, 1 and is one of the most famous Holbeins in existence. Indeed seeing that the More will be left to the "Nation," and the Yarboroughs not sell for love or money, this Schonborn portrait remains the best, the very best, to be had at all. The photograph will tell you something about it. 2 The background is blue, very light, the table-doth green, the clothes, dark golden brown. It is positively in perfect preservation. [In margin:] When I last saw it I fell down and worshipped. So did Mrs. Costelloe and Carlo Placci who were with me. It is such a gorgeous picture. But I thought it could no more be got than one of the masterpieces of the Imperial Gallery. Now, I have discovered that it is not an entailed picture, and that money can probably get it. Do you want it? If you do, you must leave me carte blanche-to pay whatever is necessary to procure it. Remember it probably is the last as well as the best chance for a Holbein. I am going on with the Correggio negotiation and hope to get the picture, if at all, for £6,ooo or even less. The Los chis pass thro' Florence tomorrow and I shall see them. Do you sail the r 5th. Whence and what steamer. I shall write once more before that, but in case I miss you, my heartiest good wishes for the best possible journey. I do pity you. B.B. » r. The Schon born Collection remains in Vienna. The seat of the counts of Schon born is

Pommersfelden, outside of Bamberg, Bavaria . »2. Holbein's Merchant Hermann Wedigh of Cologne passed through the collections of F. Stout, Chicago, and E. Harkness, New York, to The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

107


Florence. Dec. l l, l 897

Dear Friend,

I have just seen [Al vise] Zileri, and the cat has been let out of the bag at last. The bottom fact seems to be that the will of the father who first left the Giorgione to the town, and then changed his mind leaving it to the family, is a will not altogether beyond dispute. Zileri says they have consulted lawyers about it, and these say that so far as they can tell the family owns the picture, but that in Italy one can never tell, and that if the town of Vicenza chose to go to law about it, there is just one chance in a hundred that it might win the case. In view of this possibility, however, the Zileris will not sell the picture except under the condition that the picture be returned to them at the price paid, if such a law suit went against them. It is natural that they should want to be assured on their side, and the probabilities of such a contingency are, I fancy, too small to trouble you. Still I must have your assent to this clause, as without it the picture is not to be had, and with it, I, (and you thro' me only), am responsible. If you do agree to this then I shall meet Zileri at Venice on the 20th inst. and then we run the gauntlet of the permesso. That is of course entirely beyond my control. Yet I may tell you that in case it is not given, we could institute a law suit, for the head man Venturi 1 has declared the picture to be a copy. Please let me have a word from you before you sail, and in case you will not agree to the condition, wire at once. I received both your wires. The Pesellinos are ÂŁ8,ooo. I signed, and handed over the cheque for lO,ooo lire to Costantini, and have his receipt. You still owe him 2,000 lire. I am so sorry to be writing business and bothering you in your busiest moments before sailing. Goody-bye, dear Friend. It has been an im1nense pleasure being with you, getting to know you, and being on the same continent with you. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson ÂťI.

Adolfo Venturi (1865-1941), Italian art historian and critic.

Dear Berenson

Saturday [ 12

[Paris] December l 897]

I wired to know what happened to the cheque, because by telegraphing from here it was discovered that [illegible] had cashed it. So please let me know where and how it was found. They were all day yesterday worrying about it; and trying to stop it. Your wire has just come but says vaguely "To Costantini lo,ooo only, you own 2,000 lire more." That I knew from your letter, but what I wanted to know was did you find the cheque, which in your letter you said had not been found in my letter-or was it stolen and cashed by the thief or did you find it-I am now sending the extra 2, ooo 108


Lire. Where has the bust gone? To America? You did not say in your letter, and I feel now as if my confidence in Costantini were shaken-as we are off so soon, and as it takes so long for letters to and from Florence, please send me a wire clearly saying if you found the cheque, and where the Bust is. We leave here 8 a. m. -Wednesday. I got your wire about Pesellino-" 8, ooo"pounds I suppose-so I am trying to raise the pounds which added to 3, 500 for Crivelli, and 4,000 for Giorgione make ÂŁ15, 500. It may take a day or two cabling. I hope you got my letter written on Thursday. That explains the situation. I shall be so anxious to hear all about the new apartment. This is written in greatest haste. Yours always Isabella Let me know about the Correggio's extra price and when you want the cheque for it.

Dear Friend

Villa Kraus Fiesole Dec. 12, 1897

I am quite distressed by your letter of Friday (an unlucky day). What has poor Costantini done! You see in your letter of the 3d you forgot to send the check. I directly wrote to tell you you had forgotten it. Meanwhile you had found the cheque on your desk, and sent it to me, as the enclosed note from you written last Sunday will prove. Receiving your cheque I endorsed it and handed it over to Costantini, and he cashed it. The poor chap is guiltless, and if there is an honest dealer in Italy it is he. By the way I also enclose his receipt for the lO,ooo lire. Well, I do not know whether to be mortified or amused that after months and months you come around to what I stated in my first letter about the Loschi picture, that the best, indeed the only thing to do with it, is to put it into a trunk and carry it away with one. This I will have done now, by the first reliable friend who crosses the frontier. Provided of course you are willing to have the picture on the conditions I wrote yesterday. Please do not be suspicious. The Loschis are honourable people to this extent, that they will keep the bargain with me, that they will not sell the picture to another until I have refused it, that they will not cheat me in any way. They are Bourbons, and gentlemen. Please, please, dear Friend, do not curse at me. I have done my very best, and the Giorgione now is yours, if you are willing to accept the conditions, and willing to have me smuggle it out of the country, as pictures almost invariably are. No, you really must not think of the Yarborough Holbein. It simply is not to be had. How sorry I am to be pestering you with sordid business in the very last 109


word I can get to you. Instead I wish I might have written to you of nothing but the beauty of the day. It has been crystal clear over head, but Florence was wrapt in mist and such clouds filled the vale of the Arno that you felt miles high, as you looked down upon them. Good-bye, once more, dear Friend. The pleasantest of journeys to you. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson

Dear Berenson

[Paris] Deeb 13 [1897]

It is I who have the right to go to law to claim the Giorgione. You told me that they had promised to deliver the picture to me and that they were gentlemen and would keep their word! Do you remember? Also they offered it for sale to the Boston Art Museum! Why? Does all this mean that all the dealers (for they have become that) are merely liars? It looks like it, particularly as I remember Emo said he was sure they would not really sell it for that price, and until it was really gone from them he would not believe it! You still have faith in all these people I see. What faith ought I to put? You see I am the sort of person who always believes at first, but from the moment I disbelieve, faith is dead. I will act as you think best in the scrubious affair. Let me know. Of course I should like the picture, or I should not have allowed myself to be annoyed by the backing and filling all this long time. I am hoping for the wire about that cheque. What did become of it? And where is the Santa Brigitta bust? I have seen wonderful things in Paris, bought by those Jews, Kann, and Dreyfus. 1 They have had great luck and have packed up and walked off with the things they bought in Italy. Don't you think the best way to do is that. Put the Giorgione in a trunk and presto! Do you fancy they realize how their behaviour appears to an Anglo-Saxon? I have no more illusions. I wish you could give me better accounts of your health. Do take care. Always yours (now most hurriedly) Isabella A Merrie Xmas and a happy New Year. Âť r. Joseph Duveen bought the Rodolphe Kann Collection in 1908 and the Gustave Dreyfus

Collection in 1930.

Dear friend

[Paris] Deeb 14 [1897]

This is my last European word, this time. D. V there may be other times! Your letter has just come-the one with the cheque receipt-also the one with the Holbein photograph! Where do you fancy that latter one has been all this time? I wrote and posted to you yesterday another about the GiorllO


gione. I fancy the way of the cheque was-that I never dreamed it took so long to get to you and supposed the 2nd letter had failed to appear. All's well that ends well. As to the Holbein-please tell me (to I 52 Beacon St.) what you call "carte blanche." I mean in what neighborhood of pounds. I will not give up the other though because of English news I have heard. It may not be true however. No news of the Crivelli! What happens between Italy and France? By the way, where did the Crivelli come from; and where the Correggio? Also please tell me in what Castle, palace or house the Edward VI Holbein is. The Giorgione (if those people are gentlemen) to go to Fernand Robert, Paris. The Touraine is just sighted 3 days late. What a sea are we going out into? Please be sure to tell your sister that I am looking forward to a visit from her in Boston. I think, if the Crivelli had come, I would have put it into the bottom of my trunk, said nothing to anybody, and smuggled it into unwilling America. Au revoir-come. Yours IsabellaHow is the "brain-exhausted lady."

Dear Friend,

Villa Kraus Fiesole Dec. I 6, I 897

I had no notion you were going to the Touraine. I thought it was one of the German boats. My prayers will be with you, and pagan prayers to Aeolus ought to be available. Aeolus ought to be very nice to me for I fear his worshippers have been greatly reduced of late. How I regret that the Crivelli did not come to you in time! Perhaps it did after all. It was once in the famous Leyland Collection, then belonged to a Mr. Samuel, then to a dealer from whom I got it. It is in all the world the picture I would own. Quant a moi, I prefer it to all the rest of your collection. Now for the Holbein. The baby Edward VI is in Lord Yarborough's town-house, in London. He absolutely will not sell it. But granting that he would, I no longer am quite sure that I would urge you to get it. The reason will require a little explanation. The little picture is all that I said it was. But it is not absolutely unique. Holbein like all court painters had to paint a subject more than once. He painted the little Edward at least twice. Nowdo not be horrified if I tell you that I am not quite omniscient-but although I knew there was a replica of the little Edward in the public gallery at Hanover, 1 not having seen it for many years, I supposed it to be an inferior version. However, at the same time that I wrote to you about the picture, I was and had been making every effort to get a reproduction of the Hanover picture. It came as I knew it would before I had committed myself III


with Yarborough, and to my annoyance I had to acknowledge that all in all the Yarborough version was inferior. Then immediately came Yarborough's peremptory refusal to treat of the matter, and for that reason I bothered you no further. Otherwise I naturally would not have bought the picture without first warning you that while it was a genuine and glorious picture it was not quite up to another version of the same subject. So you see where we stand, and that you may see with your own eyes, I enclose the reproduction of the Hanover picture. The modelling here is certainly better. My own strenuous purpose is to get for you the best and the best only, among things to be had. Now the Schonborn Holbein is absolutely unique without any replica to rival it, and of the very best quality. I will do my level best to get it at the lowest price, even tho' I have to haggle for it pound by pound. Its lowest real value can be no less than £8,ooo. But I may have to pay much more to get it. And as I am only too certain that just such a chance won't come again I strongly would advise you to pay anything within £15,000. If you do not care that much for it but would have it at a lower figure you need only cable. In any case on receipt of this letter cable YELBEIN if you wish me to get it at any price up to £ l 5, ooo. If you will only pay less and drop the chance if it can't be got for that sum, please put after the YELBEIN, the sum you are willing to climb to. The Correggio is in private possession in Italy, and a condition of its sale would be never to divulge the present owner. I am delaying, to tell you frankly, to make sure that I am not the victim of my own enthusiasm. So I am making all sorts of studies and researches, and when I am absolutely convinced that it is what I took it to be, then I trust to find no difficulties. You see I had to write to you at once about it, to be able to say to the owner, that I certainly would take if it I concluded it was a Correggio. Even Homer is reported to have nodded; but in your service I simply must not. Now for the Loschis. I am going to take the Giorgione, and smuggle it out of the country, but I take it on the condition that if a lawsuit for its possession is ever brought up and carried against them, you will give them up the picture at the price they got for it from me. I find, alas, that princes and peasants are at least in matters of business kneaded of the same dough, stupid, impervious to reason, grasping, and full of suspicions and panic fears. If they refuse to give me the picture now I will be strongly tempted to institute a lawsuit against them. But I really do not expect this. As soon as the picture is in my possession I shall cable to you VICENZA WELL. It is such a lovely pearly day troppo caldo per la stagione as they say here, but in itself perfect. I am enjoying my last glimpses of the enchanting view, for while I go to Vicenza next week I am to be moved down to my new quarters. There chaos still reigns, but I am determined not to worry about that, nor about the prices they are trying to charge me. I have had to save up all my worrying for the accursed Loschis. 112


I am writing to my sister to hasten to see you. It will be a great event in her life. Good-bye. My very best wishes. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson

P. S. On arrival you will find my new book, The Venetian Painters with the Europa. 2 Address letters after this: S. Domenico di Fiesole, Florence. Telegraph address FlESOLE »I.

»2.

Now in the National Gallery of Art as the original of which there are several copies. A third edition of The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance appeared in the autumn of I 897.

52 Beacon Street Christmas Day l 897 l

Dear Berenson

A Merrie Xmas and a Happy New Year1 have your cable "Vicenza Well." It came yesterday. I hope it means there is no more question about the Giorgione. We had a wrasping time of it on the high and low seas; and finally got here night before last. No sleep and no food make Mrs. Jack a dull boy. So this is not a letter, but merely an affectionate greeting on this high festival; and very many thanks for your two books; i.e. the Illustrated Venetians, and the Central Italians. Why oh why, was the photograph of the Europa reduced to such tininess. May the New Year bring joy into your heart, and new home. I hope to see your sister in a few days. Always Yours Isabella-

Deeb 3 l 1897 Jan l l 898 A goodbye to you in the old year, dear friend, and a greeting to you in the New Year. I have seen your sister! She is delightful. We (she and I.) are both agreed that you are to come here next summer! Yours Isabella-

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

5, Via Camera ta San Domenico di Fiesole Florence Jan. 9, 1898

I received last night your perfectly charming Christmas greetings. I can not tell you how it warmed me up, and what pleasure it gave me. And it will seem a bad reward to turn at once to scold you. But scold I must, and for this. When I first proposed Arundel to you it was for some £25,000. Then suddenly the Warwicks sorely in need of money, were willing to sell it for 113


much less, and I wrote to you again telling you it probably could be had for £15,000. It was because of this, by the way, that I cabled "about £15,000." Now I shall be happy ifI can get it for £21,000, and you will be £6,ooo out of pocket. You must take picture-owners while the selling-fit is on them. I have done scolding. I cabled to you yesterday that the Giorgione was safely exported. I entrusted it, swaddled up like a baby in a blanket, to some friends of mine. They took it to London, and delivered it over to my agent, who had the order to send it, insured for £6,ooo, to Robert's in Paris. So you now are beyond question that unique creature, the owner of an unquestioned Giorgione. Now a truce to business. The sun is out after countless days of fog, and my spirits are merry. My house is beginning to look charming, altho' the reek of fresh paint is still strong in the land. The situation is tame compared with my Fiesolan eyrie. Indeed from one window it positively is ugly. But the land is charming with outlooks on all the dear toy castles on the heights, a veritable Gozzoli landscape, and on the folds of the hills graded to the horizon's height. Now to tell you something of my house. It has two floors, but I shall inhabit the upper one only. The lower one is almost on a level with the garden, and I have turned the middle room into an entrance hall. Off this opens the guest-chamber. This already is hung with quaint old prints, and furnished with the stiff yet winsome accoutrements of the Napoleonic Era. I shall leave it pretty much as it is, plus a comfortable bed. The entrance hall I have had distempered pistacchio green. It is still to furnish. Thus far I have placed therein only the most gorgeous of my bureaus. It nearly broke n1y heart to banish it from my bed-room, but there it would not do. Now, come up the stairs with me, thro' the whitewashed passages. You find yourself in a slightly winding corridor monastically white. All my living rooms open out from it. I append a plan due south and north. The library is all white, with white bookshelves, and would be charming but for the photograph cases which are of walnut. Across the passage you come into my green room. The ceiling is white, and rounded off at the corners. About two feet below, hanging from a gold bead comes brown sacking down to about nine inches off the floor, where it meets a painted border of green. On this brown sacking I have had hung all the green that would go together. The portieres we bought at S. Georgio's cover the whole wall of the fireplace, and half the neighbouring wall where I have put the mirrored Venetian scritoire which we got at Della Torres. I can not tell you how rich and beautiful this hanging looks, and I weep to think I have not enough to go around the walls. However, over the table I have put a large piece of rough twisted chequered green and yellow, and over the book case the gorgeous cope, and over the chimney-piece the shelf that we got at [S. Giorgio's?]. In front of the fireplace, facing it, stands the sofa, and in the l

14


GARDEN

book case

Library

Green room

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Ul

(\)

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c:

...... ...... ~

table

(\)

~r: sofa fireplace -------6 book case GARDEN Red room

drawers

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+-----路------fire Bedroom Dressing room

bed

GARDEN

corners some resplendent old arm-chairs covered with mossy-green. On the floor is a very fine Aubusson carpet. So on the whole, the effect is gorgeous. To complete it, I want to hang on the walls two or three old pictures on a gold ground. The red room is hung with that wonderful damask yellow on a red ground. It is magnificent, and perhaps looks the severer for not going all around the walls. In a corner here I have placed that finest of all my purchases, the elaborate chest of endless tiny drawers, standing on a larger chest of ordinary drawers. Now we have attained the climax, my bedroom. I wonder whether at the sight of it, you would like all my other friends, burst into fits of laughII5


ter. They say it is not for a bearded man, but for a delicate creature, a Christabel, or heroine of St. Agnes's Eve. The walls are white. The floor is covered with dainty Japanese matting. The bed is low and narrow, just a divan, but it is overcanopied with a baldachin. This canopy, the bed-cover, and the curtain all are tucked up a la Louis Seize of pale blue green silk of that time, with a charming design painted upon it. There is a standing mirror, and a nice canape, white and gold, covered with a pretty silk. The wash stand is an old marble-topped side table on carved legs, white and gold. The simplest of my bureaus, the intarsiated one, completes the furnishing of this pretty room. It would be perfect if I had not made the mistake of putting a stove in. It crowds the room a little, and as there is no fire in the dressing room I shall be obliged to work and dress here, in colder weather. If you have had the stupendous patience to read this description, you will soon be able to form the picture of your friend in his surroundings. He hopes you will see them for yourself before he flies further. What a pity about the Europa in my book! It has not come out at all well. Still it will give an idea, and everybody sees at a glance that the reproduction is blurred, and discounts for the effect accordingly. Please read my Central Italian Painters. I really am very eager that you should, and you must let me know what you think of it. I wonder where Zozo Smith is. If in Paris, he might copy the Giorgione now. I want to give the Zileris the copy as soon as possible, so as to have done with those ridiculous peasant-princes. But I laugh to think of Emo's threats. Good-bye. I am eager to hear of my sister's visit to you. Yours ever devotedly B. B.

l

Dear Berenson

52 Beacon Street

Boston Jan. 12 [ l 898]

I have so much to say I don't know where to begin. First and foremost, I, poor little me, am between the two horns of that dilemma! Mr. Gardner and you-both most brutally unkind to me! He thinks I ought never to buy one other single thing I am so crippled; and you, you do scold me if I don't! He thinks every bad thing of you, and I too am beginning to look upon you as the serpent; I myself being the too-willing Eve; and oh! the price she and I do pay! You never knew I think, what a pang I had long ago when I had to give up the Rubens, 1 because I had bought the Titian. I wasn't so deep dyed then, and never thought or knew what depths debt had! Well, ever since, I have longed for that picture, and have had an eye on it; so the other day when I heard from people in England that Benson was buying it for a friend of his, I simply couldn't bear it-and 116


you know the rest! 2 That is why I didn't cable to get the Holbein. Of course, if the Holbein is just what you say, I must have it some day. But, please, dear dear dear friend, make it be kept for me. Don't let it get bought yet. For absolutely I cannot buy it now. When I ever can Mr. Gardner even refuses to contemplate. But if it can be bought reasonably and by and by, you really must help me to get it. You will, like a dear-like the true friend of mine that you are. And then when that is mine, and my Raphael, no more pictures. I shall begin to put the pennies together for a building and bread and a few essentials like that. As soon as I can get the photographs you want, I will send them. Now that Italy has decided about pictures not being legally detained in that land, there are no more permessi to get. 3 I am glad you realize my opinion of the Zileris. Some day I shall tell Emo 4 my opinion of an Italian's opinion of honour. I can always count on you, can I not? And I am always your friend. PTO. Isabella-

P. S. Hold on to, and let me know if you have any lire belonging to me. Where was the Crivelli, and whose fault was it that I didn't get it in time? Now I shall not see it for two years certainly and perhaps never. Was it that beast Colnaghi? Why didn't he send it immediately? I shall write to him about it. I am not in the habit of such utter disregard of orders. I.S.G. See BB to ISG, 2 August 1896, note 3; Rembrandt, not Rubens. »2. The R. and E. Benson Collection, Park Lane, London, and Buckhurst, Sussex. »3. Not true; see BB to ISG, 2 February 1898. »4. Probably Carlo Emo, younger brother of Count Emo of Fanzolo, with whom ISG corresponded. »I.

5, Via Camerata

Dear Friend,

San Domenico di Fiesole Florence Jan. 12, l 898

So many thanks for your charming note of New Year's greetings. It followed close upon the most enthusiastic letter I ever have received from my sister, all about you and your pictures. I do hope you will see her from time to time. I know few persons more sensitive to beautiful things than she, but poor thing, she is rather starved, and it would be everything to her if you would see her once in a while, and let her look at your beautiful things. And talking of beautiful things I saw at a small shop here the other day an old Persian jug which took my fancy so much that I made the man photograph it, and this photograph I am now enclosing. The body is copper, all the rest brass, and not only grand in design, but exquisitely worked. It stands two feet high, and seems to me very magnificent. I should say it was of the l 6th century. I can get it for 3, 200 lire. I have made the man 117


promise to keep it until I have had an answer from you, so be good enough to let me know. 1 We are having the weather of fairy-land, sparkling air, and gay skies. A bientot, B.B. » 1. The Persian jug is not in the museum's collection.

r 52 Beacon Street

Boston Jan r 3 [ r 89 8]

Dear Berenson

This moment a cable to know if I really want the Yarborough. Whatever makes you think that? Of course I don't, after what you wrote about it and the other one. 1 And two days ago I sent you another letter; an enormous document in fact-in which I explained my financial position, and said that no more pictures for me but the Raphael and Holbein, but I meant of course the Vienna Holbein, which I must have in time and cheap, unless you think it is not so good as you thought it when you wrote. Whatever put it into your head that we came over in the Touraine? No, in "Billy the Grocer" as he is called. 2 Yours IsabellaNow that the Correggio is mine, please tell me the name of the owner, which of course I will not divulge. Of course I must know. Please answer all my questions that are in all my letters. » 1. BB had written that it was an inferior version of the Holbein in Hanover (see BB to ISG,

16 December 1897).

»2.

The steamship Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse.

5, Via Camerata

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

San Domenico di Fiesole Florence Jan. r6 [ r 898]

I am truly happy that you have decided to give up Yarborough's Holbein. There seemed somewhat more of a prospect of getting it, in case you insisted, and I did my duty in letting you know of this. But I have for you a consolation of the most extraordinary and unexpected kind. Let me say it at once, I have to propose to you a portrait byRa phael. You are aware that he painted very few, and the really valuable ones are those of his later years, portraits in which Raphael reveals a grasp of character, and a power of rendering, which-tho' he is as a mere painter at the antipodes-places him closest of all rivals, to Velasquez. These really great portraits are the young cardinal at Madrid, the Castiglione of the Louvre, the Navagero and Beazzano of the Doria Gallery, the Leo X of the II8


Pitti, and the portrait of Tommaso Inghirami. This last portrait is shown you in the Pitti, but recent criticism is unanimous that the Pitti picture is only a copy, and that the original still belongs to the Inghirami family at Volterra. Critics so far apart in other respects as Morelli, and Bode, are agreed on this point, and now it is so universally accepted, that even in the guide-books you will find the Pitti picture down as a copy. In character both as interpretation and as painting the portrait of Inghirami stands closest to the Leo X, of all other works by Raphael. Inghirami was a great favourite a,t the court of Leo X, and a boon companion to all the prominent men at Rome. Unfortunately he was cross-eyed, and wishing to conceal this defect as much as possible Raphael has painted him, writing and looking up for inspiration. 1 The photograph I am sending you is of the version in the Pitti, and because it is of the copy, and because it is a photograph it grossly exaggerates the mere unattractiveness of the sitter, which, at the most is not unpleasanter than in the majority of Velasquez's portraits. In the original, you would either not notice it at all, or soon forget it, overpowered by the splendid, classic style of the thing as art. The portrait is life-size. [In margin of letter:] His cap and coat are red. Well, if I had been asked what in the whole range of art seemed the hardest to acquire I should have said a portrait of any kind by Raphael. Madonnas are hard enough to get, but a portrait of any kind has almost never been in the market. And this particular portrait is almost universally acknowledged as one of Raphael's two or three best existing portraits. Until a few days ago it was so tied up that it could not be sold. Now it is for sale, and fortunately I am the first in the market. In consequence thereof, I can probably get this portrait for little. If the owner were an Englishman, not too hard up, or if the great dealers got hold of it, they would ask and certainly get it for any price up to about £75,000. Well, I can probably get it for you for somewhere about £15,000. It may swing a few thousand higher, but if I can manage to close the bargain quick enough, I can perhaps ·get it for even less than £15,000. I think I have said enough to convince you that this is the chance of chances to acquire a work of art in itself great, englamoured in glory, for a price almost ridiculous. Believe me, to be perfectly moderate, if I get you this portrait, at the price I hope to get it for you, I shall be almost as good as making you a present of from twenty to thirty thousand pounds. Remember, also that the only other Raphael worth your while, is Lord Cowper's Madonna, really not so great a work, altho' pleasanter. For this I am sapping and mining, and I should be happy if I could get it for you for ' £ 50, ooo, but the chances are I fear infinitessimal, Cowper being rich and 2 childless. So, please cable just as soon as you can YESANZIO, if I am to get the Inghirami for you. If you do not want it I shall be sorely tempted to turn dealer; for had I the capital to purchase it outright, I could make my fortune ll9


quickly. But I had rather you got it, for I have your collection at heart only after my own work. And a prize like this I scarcely can hope ever again to try to fetch home to you. We are having wonderful weather, just a touch of hoarfrost at dawn, but in the day warm and golden. I am better, and enjoying my pretty place. Ever yours B.B. » l. ISG purchased Raphael's Count Tommaso Ing hirami from Palazzo Inghirami, Volterra, through Costantini on BB's recommendation. The portrait diminishes Inghirami's girth and his walleye. Recent cleaning of this and the picture at the Pitti Palace has established the latter as superior. The pose may be in imitation of the traditional presentation of a Gospel writer. »2. Lord Cowper's Madonna, sold by Lady Desborough to Duveen in 1913 , thence to Joseph Widener, is now in the National Gallery of Art.

r 52 Beacon Street

Dear Berenson

Boston Jan. 20 [ r 898]

Your letter has just come-I am enchanted with it-I have delighted in every word of the description of your apartment, which to me seems a perfectly beautiful and wonderful thing. I think I shall arrive and take your room. It is much too good for any one but me! I am not writing a letter. My ideas would be slushy, like Beacon Street. I look out as I write, and see the rain puddling the snow and man and beast wallowing! Inside in this my boudoir, where I am writing, it is charming. Everywhere bits of Italy. Stuffs, pictures, frames and on a chair ·q uite near me and the light, the little Cima Madonna. And downstairs, I feel, are all those glories I could go and look at~ if I wanted to! Think of that. I can see that Europa, that Rembrandt, that Bonifazio, that Velasquez et al.-any time I want to. There's richness for you. Did I ever tell you that a very clever man here once said I was the Boston end of the Arabian Nights! By this time you will have received my letter explaining about the Rubens; I am not as stupid as you think I am. And you are as stupid as I think you are! Ever yours Isabella-

Dear Berenson

Evening ofJan.

20 [ r 898]

I sent you a charming letter this morning; and now owing to most disagreeable circumstances I am obliged to write a real scolding one about Colnaghi. It was he and his willful stupidity (because you had told him the right thing to do) that made the Crivelli too late in arriving in Paris. And now Mr. Gardner comes in swearing big oaths to say that this same Colnaghi, although especially told (for I wrote it myself to you) to send the Pesellinos 120


to Paris, has sent them here and that they have arrived! Mr. Gardner says, he did the same stupid thing about the Velasquez and that henceforth he particularly wishes that you will never allow him (Colnaghi) to have anything whatever to do with anything that belongs to me. So will you please let him know that we are the contrary of pleased-and never again let him have a finger in my pie. I have already in a former letter scolded about him. I do really feel that it is quite unpardonable, his disregard for orders. Good nightYours Isabella I hope you will be able to punish him in some way so that he will remember to send the Rubens to Paris.

5, Via Camerata

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

San Domenico di Fiesole Florence Feb. 2, I 898

I intended writing to you by the last post, but a real attack of I know not what, the jimjams prevented me. Of course you can rely on my doing everything feasible to keep the Schonborn Holbein safe for you. But my power is limited. I can take good care that neither I nor any of my agents recommend it to any one else. That fortunately is a good deal. Still beyond that magic circle there are other purchasers, and if an ill wind blows them that way I can do nothing to prevent their carrying it away. It is just possible that by purchasing it now I might be able to get it for you for about ÂŁ8,ooo. In that case you really must make a supreme effort to get it, as delay might lead to doubling the price. But let us hope for the best. On me, at all events you can rely. Do not, dear Friend, suspect for an instant that I am playing a double game with you. The Raphael, for instance that I might have written to you about, is fast slipping from my hands. Yet until I hear definitely from you I do not think of mentioning it to anybody else. Now, I am going to answer all your questions. The delay in the Crivelli seems to have been due to a misunderstanding for which the Colnaghis are as sorry as I am. Pazienza. I have no further lire for you unfortunately. The Correggio I got from a Roman named Al. Massori; and by telling you I am treating him in a way you would not like me to treat you! His grandfather was connected with Cardinal Feschi, of whose collection the venus seems once to have formed part. F's collection came for the most part to the Louvre. The law about the exportation of pictures not only remains unchanged, but change is not as much as proposed. I2I


The money for the Rubens came, but not shipping order. If you wish it to go to Robert's please cable the word "Paris." I have given up the massage, and owing to that perhaps my so-called health is in a very precarious condition. Some days I feel very wretched, and quite unfit. Again like today I feel well. But how could one feel ill on such a day! All thro' the golden hours a dazzling sun has been shining, and its heat tempered by a caressing sea-breeze. We have had no winter, and now spring is full upon us. The almonds are in blossom, the crocuses and anemones out everywhere, and the country laughs with jollity as if Wordsworth in his best mood, and not February had the tempering of it. My life has no events worth chronicling. Hargous passed thro' here the other day, and he said many pleasant things of you. 1 He is a true knight of the order of Isabella. Music has been smiling upon us. We have had the Bolognese string quartette, whose chief Sarti plays like an angel. Monday I heard Buonamici play the Kreutzer Sonata. 2 It sounded no longer like the piano, but as if the gentle breezes, and flowing brooks had taken voice and were warbling in unison. Then a friend of mine an Hungarian composer is here just now. His name is Emanuel Moor, and you will become acquainted with him someday, for his symphonies and concertos come dangerously near to Beethoven's. 3 The pity about him is that while he is a great musician, and even a thinker, like most other musicians, he lives on a clean spot, his music, in the midst of suburbs of the intellect, where all the petty denizens of the same intellect, shook their rubbish. So that directly he is not talking technically of music he thinks and deals out to you the most despairing old commonplaces. It is too bad is it not, that like a house, the mind needs constant sweeping? Most people do not, at the best, attempt to keep dustfree more than the one small room they work in. The rest is choked up with old lumber. I am writing, reading the sternest and most eloquent of poets, Lucretius, and the naughtiest of prose-writers, Petronius. Devotedly yours B.B. Âť l . Robert Hargous appears in ISG's Palazzo Barbaro guest book as staying in Palazzo Con-

tarini . He is not otherwise identified. Âť2. Giuseppe Buonamici (1849-1914), Florentine pianist and pedagogue. Âť3. Emanuel Moor (1863-193 l). As pianist and accompanist to German operatic soprano Lilli Lehmann (1848-1925), he toured Europe and America in l 88 5-87; after l 890 he settled in Switzerland to a life of composing.

Dear Berenson

r 52 Beacon Street Feb. 2 [ r 898]

I am sending photographs that may amuse you-Mr. Gardner is still in the West. I do not know which way to turn for money. And I can't raise a cent without him. He does not get back until Feb. 20th! So what to be done about the Raphael portrait? Yours Isabella122


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

5, Via Camera ta San Domenico de Fiesole Florence Feb. 3, 1898

I write in the greatest haste and affliction about the Pesellinos. As you will see by reading the leaf of your letter dated Dec. 3, (which I enclose) you especially ordered me to send the Pesellinos and the Correggio to E. A. Snow, Boston. This surprised me very much, so much that if memory do not fail me, I wrote to ask you about it, and I never got an answer. I should have sent the Correggio also to Boston, if, owing to the difficulties of sending from here straight to America, I had not by letter from Verona, Dec. 23 , asked your permission especially to send it to Paris. So you see I obeyed your orders , Colnaghis have obeyed mine. This does not make me a whit the less sorry that you are put out. But, alas! among human beings misunderstandings will arise. I promise however to do my best in the future, to reduce the consequences of misunderstandings to a minimum. But your "charming letter " is truly charming and you certainly are the Boston end of the Arabian Nights . You rs ever B.B.

Dear B erenson

Feb.

IO [I 898)

A pencilled lin e to tell you that I have broken my leg! After two days waiting for the p ain and swelling to go down, I am now in plaster, where I shall b e for fi ve week s or so . Will you be good, and w rite to m e. Yours Isabella-

r 52 B eacon Street

D ear B eren son

Feb . r8 [1898]

In p encil! Why? Becau se I h ave broken my leg, as I wrote a few days ago and fl at on my back , ink does n ot do ! Two of your letters have just come. They are the joy of my day. It is hard work to answer. Each word a fatigue. A lso not nice to put off blame; but Mr. G. told me the order for Pesellino was not America but Paris- and told me to write about Colnaghi what I did ! I am so sorry to have worried you about it! I am too sorry you have given up massage, and keep ill. It would be fun if you were on th e sofa in this my room. We could throw pillows and ideas at each other. One word of business. As yet, no Sta. Brigitta and no Bellano have appeared! If only one picture is possible for me to have now (perhaps ever) do you advise the Holbein or the Raphael portrait-cable which. I want Rubens in Paris . 123


I still don't like Colnaghi. He misunderstands too easily-as in the case of Crivelli, which is fatal to me. Your word of spring makes me weep. We are snowbound here. Yours IsabellaI shall be in plaster 5 weeks more.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

S. Domenico di Fiesole Feb. 19, 1898

I have just received your brief note, and I can not tell you how I sympathize with your pennilessness, and how it grieves me. I know you trust me enough to believe me when I tell you that I sincerely believe this chance we still have of getting one of Raphael's two most excellent works for a price that relatively speaking is a mere song, is a chance that occurs but once in a generation, and that to let it slip would be making il gran rifi uto. I should be sorry in the first place for us both, and then for America. I have so arranged about the Schonborn Holbein that without having an absolute promise I have a good assurance that it will be kept for us for three or four months. So many thanks for the quaint little photographs. The one of "Zozo" reminds me to ask you whether he really means to be in Paris next summer. For you must remember that I am under bond to furnish the Loschis with a copy of your Giorgione before next Xmas, and it would be very nasty for me if I could not hand it to them by that time. Now I should much prefer "Zozo" to do it, but if he is not certain of being in Paris, I could let it be done by an acquaintance of mine who will be there at the end of April, and who would do it well, and as cheap, for let us say ÂŁ20. Kindly answer me on this point. We have been having the most marvellous weather, golden hazes over the burning hills, daffodils and violets, and almond-blossoms out, decorating and perfuming the world. I have bought me a bicycle, and lo! I have got so far that I can look at my watch while going. I have read D' Annunzio's La citta morta the tragedy which was to rival Aeschylus. 1 Well it does not ,e ven rival Ibsen, and would be happy to approach Maeterlinck's. It consists of long tirades which you forget are supposed to be spoken, and which you read as far away description. The people have not even the life of shadow pictures, and of course their agonies quite fail to affect you. 'Tis a pity for D' Annunzio's talent is enormous, and I hate to see him throw it to the dogs-that is to say the adulation of people who don't count. I am enjoying my rooms so much that I scarcely can do any work. Good-bye, dear Friend, and a bientot B. B. 124


Âť r. Gabriele D' Annunzio 's play La cittCi morta (1898) opened with Sarah Bernhardt in the lead-

ing role.

l

Dear Berenson

52 Beacon Street Feb. 23 [ l 898]

Thanksissimo for your cable-it has put me in such good spirits. I only wish all the more you were here. Mr. Gardner has taken the Raphael portrait into dislike and therefore says "quite impossible for me to buy it." So I hope you will say I had better hold on and out for the Holbein. However I believe in you so much that I don't in the least like to give up the Raphael without a kick (even with my plaster leg). So tell me again if I must have it, and what is the lowest price. Apropos of poor me-my leg is still broken. It pains badly often. Generally only a dull ache-but how long? Who knows? I am in bed and nervous and sleepless and with much thinking-well, all the same. Yours Isabella

Dear Friend,

S. Domenico di Fiesole Feb. 25, 1898

I had a moment of pain like a sharp tooth-ache when I read your pencilled note and learned that you had broken your leg. I can not tell you how sorry I am. If this had happened to you anywhere in Europe I should have hastened to come to you, to help you pass some of your dull moments, with gossip and reading aloud. Several of us were to start two days ago on a trip to S. Gimignano, Volterra and worse. But after months of unfailing sunshine at the last moment the howling winds of March have set in, bringing their cold rains, and we are cooped up in our several houses, I, at least, unsettled for anything else, as I always am when my plans do not come off. The party was to consist of Ivlrs. Costelloe and her brother, 1 Bobbie Trevelyan 2 who is staying with them, Lina Duff Gordon, 3 and my friend Herbert Horne. 4 Miss Duff Gordon is a charming graceful creature, a descendant of Scottish lairds, and of many generations of women renowned in letters. Trevelyan is a delightful creature, aristocratic and unworldly, wholly devoted to poetry. We have great times reading aloud, the Bible and the poets. The Greek, and the Latin, and the best English he knows nearly by heart. He writes verses of his own, of much promise. To me it is a keen pleasure to find a person who never tires of talking real literature. A day or two ago it was Mardi Gras. I had walked up through the young oaks, and chestnut woods to the top of a mountain above Fiesole whence a friend of mine surveys the world spread out at his feet. Coming down as 125


the twilight had fallen over the landscape I began to see lights glimmering hither and thither over the whole country side. Some were near enough to seem like the dance of the will o' the wisp. Coming nearer still I heard them singing. And they sang to the loveliest old world air, without beginning or end, Moggio, moggio Moggiolino. Ti do un spigho Mi da un sacco. (Little, little field. I give you an ear of corn. You repay me with a bushel.) As I walked on I came on troop after troop of young people the boys dressed as girls and the girls as boys, [illegible] of Bacchanalians, singing this song, and swinging bundles of flaming grass over the young corn in the field. Never have I seen anything so far away from us, so pagan, so antique, so uncontaminated with Christianity. It seemed almost as if the blessed gods of the world's greatest poets were about to appear once more. Almost I fancied that the lights held over all the corn-fields were to help Ceres in her search for Proserpine. I have just finished Lucretius, one of the greatest and one of the worst of poets. At his best he perhaps surpasses any other Latin bard, at all events for fervour and rush. But generally he is telling you in bad verse what nowadays we learn in our manuals of physics. Apart from his poetry, as science his work is of course historically interesting. There is a certain pathos in seeing a man devote such fervour, speaking with such glow of what are now the common-places of science primers. Be sage so as to get well quanta primo and believe me Ever devotedly yours B.B. » r. Mary's brother was Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946). »2 . Robert Calverley Trevelyan (1872-1951), second son of historian George Otto Trevelyan, wrote verse and plays in verse and was a translator of Greek drama. »3. Caroline (Lina) Duff-Gordon (b. 1874), Mrs . Aubrey Waterfield. »4. Herbert P. Horne (1864-1916) , a longtime resident of Florence, left his house and collection as a museum.

Dear Berenson

r 52 Beacon Street March 3 [ r 898]

Windows open; warm air, as if Spring were here. But I know my Boston climate-snow will come! Your letter breathes fragrance delicious. Tell me about poor dear Baldwin. I am still impatient-leg still broken. How horrid you are not to understand. The Raphael portrait is quite in Mr. G.'s hands-because I can't even borrow any more money, not having 126


a collateral left! So they tell me. The only chance would be to have Mr. Gardner lend and he won't because he says he hates it. Costantini has written, and offers it for 200, ooo Lire. Mr. Gardner may relent. My only hope is that with much time to think he may come round. Can you read these pencilled notes? I write flat on my back and it tires me. Yours Isabella-

Dear Friend,

Volterra, March 5,

I

898

I received your charming letter two days ago, at Siena in the same sittingroom that we occupied last Oct. where everything reminded one of you. As you left it to me what picture y~u should take, even if it were to be your last, whether the Raphael or the Holbein, I made路 up my mind to go on to Volterra to see the Raphael again. This morning I saw it, and I can not tell you how much it impressed me. The figure is as powerfully conceived and magnificently painted as the portrait of Leo X; of which indeed it is the splendid rival. The reds are gorgeous; and while the preservation leaves much to be desired, it yet is in a better condition than the Leo. So I cabled to you at once to take it. Directly I return to Florence I shall see Costantini about your Bellano and St. Bridget. I think of you constantly as lying on your sofa with your mending leg. Your suggestion is delightful, that I were on a neighbouring sofa, but I really seem to have taken a mend for the better. I must add "unberufen" lest I get worse again. We had an enchanting day at Siena, seeing again the beloved place and its darling pictures. We spent our whole day, driving and bicycling to S. Galgano. We passed over beautiful country thro' gorges, thro' forests, past ruined castles, and under tawny cliffs until at least 25 miles away we found ourselves in sight of a beautiful ruined abbey, the finest specimen of Gothic in Italy-nevertheless, but for the beauty of the way thither, not worth the journey at least to those of us who know the ruins of the North. Volterra is an Etruscan Girgenti-grimmer, higher, more savage, -but still a Girgenti. 1 You trace the grand old walls as at Girgenti far and beyond the precincts of the present town. On every side sheer fissures in the earth reach down many hundreds of feet, and where the view is not bounded by the mountains, cold purple and grey, you behold the sea. The present town is very grand, stern, medieval fortresses everywhere, pile by pile, and always the feeling of being high, up above everything, for here we are some 2, ooo ft. above the sea. We form a merry party, talk much of poetry, and enjoy ourselves. Yesterday we visited Colle a proud little town full of magnificent palaces on top of a hill. The cathedral has many treasures, and you should have seen 127


the violet-dad canons bustling and tottering about unlocking the seven-fold sealed strong-boxes and cupboards, bringing out a precious missal, a priceless pyx, or a gorgeous vestment. Stia bene, dear Friend. Yours ever B.B. ÂťI.

Girgenti, until 1927 the name for Agrigento, Sicily.

Dear Berenson

March 7 [ l 898]

The strangest thing has happened. The Forll Titian arrived last July just in time (according to some authorities) just too late (according to others). So, only today it has been decided that we must pay the $15,000 duty and perhaps get it back from the government by law! So we have paid and the picture has been this moment delivered-and it has no frame! Did you buy it without a frame? It comes here in the case it left England in badly packed-no tin-and a tight squeeze-no room for a frame. Do let me know. The photograph I have had for a long, long time, of the picture has a frame! I have just sent my 2nd cable to you about the Raphael portrait. As yours to me was dated Volterra, I sent my answer there on Saturday to you. Today I sent another to Fiesole. The affair seems a mystery. I got a letter from Costantini, saying it was in his hands to sell for 200,000 Italian Lire. So I expected a cable of some sort from you-but in your cable you did not mention price as it has become possible to buy it so much less than you at first wrote-nearly half-of course it assumes a possible guise for me. Mr. G says find out from Berenson if you had better take it through Costantini's offer. Please let me know what to do. I am very glad you arranged so well to have the Schonbern Holbein held. This [these] picture excitements are wearing me out. I hope you can read this pencil scrawls. always Yours Isabella P.S. March 8 Of course you shall have Joe Smith's copy of the Giorgione before Christmas-long before probably I shall not do as they did about delivering the picture. Where shall the copy be sent? Still no cable answer from you about the Raphael. Of course I am interested to hear; as, if the price gets lower than 200,000 I shall surely have it. Whatever may happen if it don't. Yours Isabella-Forll is splendid.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Florence] March 13, 1898

The Inghirami is yours, one of Raphael's very greatest works, and for a price that must be considered the greatest bargain of the century. Pictures 128


have gone up in value from twelve to twenty times in the last eighty years. But even in the beginning of this century Inghirami would have fetched at the least as much as you are paying for it now. And I am delighted that you want it sent to Boston. It will add greatly to the difficulty of getting it out of the country, but I look forward keenly to your first good look at it. Costantini assures me that he has done everything to insure the safe arrival of your Bellano, and of the S. Brigitta. He had to send everything separately, the Bellano in three different parts, and from different ports, so that there may be delay, but you are sure to get them safe in time-if indeed you have not received them already. Now, how are you? Still in plaster I fear, and certainly very impatient, but soon to be released I hope, safe and sound. My sister had heard of your accident and was much grieved, but she was too shy I suppose to write to you. We got back from our trip two days ago. Perhaps the most wonderful p.ut of it was the way from Volterra to S. Gimignano, most of which I did on the bicycle or on foot. A good part of the way I was alone, in scenery of most solemn beauty. The road went thro' oaks and stone pines, winding high over the hills, in full view of the Carrara and the Apennines, glistening with snow and amethystine with shadow. (Your cable has just arrived announcing the remittance of the money) At S. Gimignano I spent most of my time wandering about in search of pictures by an unequal but fascinating painter named Pier Francesco Fiorentino. A great deal of the pleasure one takes in such a man is derived from the walks and rides, and drives one has to take to see him. I wandered about, circling around the wonderful hill town, on the horizon its towers were ever visible, portentous like stelae on the ton1bs of giants. In the evenings by the fire in the improvised sitting room of the primitive inn, we had rousing talks about poetry. This reminds me that I am now reading Pindar, who really is very beautiful. He gives you such glimpses of Paradise high up on the mountain tops, visions accompanied with soul-charming music with thrilling coolness and refreshing smells. He is a poet one should know by heart. March is at its tricks even here, but today it is lovely. The sky looks like ethereal porcelain exquisitely clean. Stia bene. B. B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Florence] March 21, 1898

Your notes still in pencil! I am sorry; but al tho' you say nothing you do not write as a person who is not confident of being well soon. Bene! Yes, the Forli Titian had a frame, but perfectly modern, worthless, and 129


so heavy, that it would have added greatly to the difficulties of export, and certainly was not worth the cost of transport. For which reasons I left it behind, as I have left the frame of the Giorgione, and am leaving the one of the Raphael-all equally hideous. You must think out a frame for Forll. Flat rimmed, simple, pale old gold; or the dark deep purplish wood in which many old Dutch pictures are framed. I am truly sorry to hear that the Forll was not well packed. It all comes from my having tried other shippers than the Colnaghis. They are bad enough but angels compared to anyone else. Inghirami will be here tomorrow. I must have a copy made of it and given to the family before the picture can leave. 1 Then, the agony of getting it out of the country. If you changed your mind, and do not want the picture shipped to Boston-I hope you do-you still will have time to cable to me. I am truly getting ashamed of my listlessness. I enjoy the days very much, but it is all far away, as if I were myself a tree or a cloud in the landscape. I read Pindar, and I try to work, but my work makes no progress-¡-and of course I am haunted by the fear that perhaps my hour has struck, that never having done work of much consequence, I yet already have done my best, and am now on the decline. But I have moments, last night for instance as I walked down the fragrant lanes under the bright stars, the olive branches drawn with divine mastery against the darkling air; or this morning when my windows were opened and the peach blossoms invaded my chamber with their sweetness. Yesterday Morello 2 looked aflame like a gem dissolving in fire, and a haze covered the world like a mantle woven of dreams. Addia. B. B.

P. S. The copy of your Giorgione goes to Conte A. Zileri dal Verme Palazzo Loschi Vicenza, Italy. Please tell Zozo to be sure to let me know when he comes abroad again. The copy must be the exact size of the original. Âť r. A copy had already been made in r 8 57, and it presumably hangs in the house. ISG never

paid for one.

Âť2.

Monte Morello, which lies north of Florence.

l

Dear Berenson

52 Beacon Street. March 25 [1898]

I am out of plaster! But I told you that before. Your delicious letter telling me of your little journey came yesterday. How I should like to have been of that party. You also tell me that the Raphael portrait is mine, and coming to Boston. Has it left, and is it all right? Do tell me about the owner's change of base and his being willing to sell it so much cheaper. Mr. Gardner clamors for all details. I am so delighted that it turned out that way. It simply made it possible for me to have it. 130


I am beginning to walk! I am a droll sight-I drive out to Brookline nearly daily-and yesterday I walked in the spring garden. Every tuft in the grass reminded me of a little puppy I had last year, who fell down whenever he came to an impediment 2 inches high. When my walk of three minutes was over I was as tired as if I had walked lOO miles! Mais ce n'est que le premier pas qui coute. Yours Isabella

[Florence] March 27, 1898

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

I have heard marvellous accounts of the high levies you have been holdingyou incorrigible, and irrepressible person. As for me the least ho-ho makes me feel too slack to see anyone, or anything. I have been very busy this week writing an article about a Madonna which the Louvre has just bought, and bought as a Piero della Francesca, whereas it is by Alessio Baldovinetti. 1 It is, however, a very fine thing. The absurd thing is that only a couple of weeks before the Louvre paid l 30,000 fr. for it, it was offered me for 70, ooo. I did not write to you about it, chiefly because I was convinced you had no money!!! Emo has been in Florence. I have not seen him, but he has almost lived with my dearest enemy Loeser. 2 This amiable person still owes all his friends to me. Formerly I used to introduce him to people I cared for. Now directly a person has a grudge against me they rush and embrace Loeserand I knew that Emo would. By the bye, he now advertises it as his dream to become minister of fine arts in Italy. I suppose the better to frustrate my supposed eagerness to become director of one of their galleries. If you have a quarter of an hour to spare do read Oscar Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol. 3 It is excellent, kept in almost the best ballad tone, and accordingly impressive. Alas, it is not talent which he lacks. All in all he is the cleverest Anglo-Saxon man of letters now alive. Stia hene. B.B. » r. The attribution to Baldovinetti was correct.

»2 . Charles Loeser, Harvard classmate of

BB 's, filled his Florentine villa with a collection of paintings and drawings and, on his death, in 1928, left part to Harvard and part to his adopted city. When first in Florence he helped both George Santayana and BB financially. He later quarreled with BB. »3. Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol was published in I 898.

l

52 Beacon Street April lst [ l 898]

Yours has this minute come. I am really sorry you did not send the frameseven if they were bad-for they were frames, and pictures do look their very worst without them, and one gets such a wrong impression on seeing them first. I wish you had sent the frames of all of them. Of course one 131


buys the frame with the picture-and here there are simply none to be found and 2 months is the very least for making one. And en attendant, what? To say nothing of the extra money a new frame costs! I hope you didn't agree to pay for a copy of the Raphael. If so, would it be better to let Joe Smith do that also for $100. But I hope they pay. My leg is nearly well-mended wholly, but taking a lot of time to be useful. I am in bed always except when driving or hearing music. It is as cold as winter today. Snow yesterday. Yours always Isabella-

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Florence] Easter Sunday [ l 898]

It is a day worthy of the season, and I can not tell you how I revive after weeks of such bad weather. Of course summer is here, like love full grown. The green is so fresh and abundant, and every colour of flower and blossom painted upon it. I am heartily glad that you are up at last! By the time this reaches you you will, I hope, be walking about as if nothing had ever happened to you. Of course I am in a blue funk about the war we seem plunging intochiefly on account of the Raphael. I shall do my best to put it in a safe ship, possibly English. But the picture has to be smuggled out of the country, and it is hard enough, but this makes everything much harder. I pray all may be well. When I first wrote to you about the same picture, I told you I hope to get it out very cheap, probably for no more than ÂŁ10,000 possibly for less. I knew them, and I dare say I told you, that I might get it for as little as 200, ooo lire. But I never drive the bargain to an end until, of course, I know that you want it. Well, I knew that the Inghiramis were very hard up, and knew that they were innocents. But I did not know how desperately hard up they were. Meanwhile, I heard nothing from you, and almost gave up hopes of your taking the picture. At Siena I received your cable that you would take the picture if I still urged it upon you. By a singular coincidence I heard that very same hour in Siena that the lnghiramis had tried to make a loan there of a sum of about 200,000 lire of the Monte di Paschi [bank], but that it was not thought safe to lend them more than half that sum. This gave me a tremendous pull on them in bargaining, and you are the winner. This is the whole story, except I must add that Costantini has been enormously helpful to me through the whole affair; and that for an Italian he has behaved splendidly, altho' I have found that he also is an Italian. It has been great sport, and an immense instruction to keep going to and fro between it, and the Pitti version. You are almost the first private collec132


tor who can boast of possessing the original of a great work which in one of the most famous galleries of the world is represented by a copy. Would, dear Friend, that you were here now with your sunshine of the soul to inspire me to the full enjoy1nent of the spring. I scarcely dare to give myself up to it. There is one's ridiculous work, and people who expect it. Addia! B.B.

P. S. I enclose a bill from Colnaghi's for insurance.

I 52

Dear Berenson

Beacon Street April 6 [I 89 8]

Yours March 27, I have this moment read. You say nothing about the Raphael having started for Boston--has it? Joe can copy it here, before he sails, if it leaves soon. Of course I hope I don't have to pay. Are you better? If so, keep so-or rather get entirely well. I came home from my drive the other day, and found your sister's card. It made me sad to have missed her. As to the Louvre Madonna, I was going to ask you about her. She was offered to the Art Museum here for quite a low price. They of course refused! Why is Emo so cross? And why Loeser, at all? If one looks up, one can't see such things. A violent and most beautiful snow storm yesterday-today a warm sun melting it. Yours Isabella-

Beacon Street Boston April 22 [I 898]

I 52

Dear Berenson

I loathe this war with such a deadly loath; I think it such an unrighteous and dishonourable war, that it would be the "comble" if the Raphael came to grief through it. But I really don't think there is any possibility of that. Any ship but an American one is absolutely safe. Apropos of the war, I hope the disgraceful people, the Jingoes, will be sent and made to do the fighting, and I hope they may all be killed the first day! Teddy Roosevelt is goingPraise the Lord! Brookline is too beautiful, and my only solace. I spend much of my time there getting ready for the family move May rst. My leg is getting on well, but I am not quite a free mover. I am wheeled about my beautiful garden. The feeling of spring is over the land-but we do have our terrible wind and dust all the same. Come across the seas, and lie on your back under the cherry blossoms-do. There is no dust nor wind at Brookline. Yours IsabellaI send you a cheque for the amount of Colnaghi's bill.

133


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

(Florence] Apr. 24, 1898

The news now comes from your side of ocean-stream, and even today the war may already be going on. I am very sorry, not so much for any dread of what may happen while fighting with Spain as for fear of what will be done afterward. However as the good old turtle in the Hitopadesia invariably used to say what will be will be, and can not be otherwise. 1 As for us, Florence is supposed to be holding high festivals in honor of various filibusterers of old, one of them being the gentleman whose name we Americans all bear. Jupiter Pluvius, like most retired, cultivated people hates popular festivities, and for that reason since ten days it has been pouring down with malicious persistency. There were to have been highly elaborate fireworks. Of course they have been put off from night to night, and by the time it is again dry enough to have them only the native urchin will remain in Florence to enjoy them. This is our season for birds of passage, and even I have been seeing some, not those of gayer plumage of course, but Oxford and Cambridge dons, and all of that feather. Yesterday I was surprised by a call from that half red Indian, half genius, Mr. Davis of Newport. I had a malicious pleasure in telling him in a hoarse whisper of some of the things you have been getting. Last night I went out to dine-a great event for me, I dine out so seldom-with some charming people who live on the hills across the Arno, in a splendid villa. The lady missed by a few days becoming Duchess of Portland, and certainly she would have worn her title with dignity. Her daughters are dear creatures with liquid black eyes who spend their lives reading theology and nursing lame dogs. I sat next to one of them last night, a pale delicate thing, and she at once began to try to convert me by telling me that owing to her faith the more pain she suffered the greater was her real happiness. For my other neighbor I had a very beautiful woman, with an exquisitely thin graceful figure and lovely auburn hair-Lady Windsor. 2 We had a good time discussing the present Laureate, 3 a common friend of ours, and all his pretty ways, and amusing self-importance. N-ear me sat the Archbishop of York who said very kind and condescending things of us Americans. 4 His burly jolly wife meanwhile was handing around for inspection a bit of paper the size of a six pence on which she had written the whole of the Apostles' creed! After dinner I chatted for an hour with a languishing creature showing all over her, great voice, perfect personal simplicity, and yet all the affectation of the circle she lives in, for she is a sister of the present Duke of Portland. 5 The poor thing has great yearnings for culture, and has been spending all the winter in a Scotch university, studying logic and metaphysics. She looked frightfully puzzled trying to talk of what she had learned. 134


Now I feel as if I had society to last me for months. Placci is just back. 6 He wishes to be remembered to you. So does Papafava who is here. Addia. B.B. » l. Hitopadesia, a version of the famous collection of Hindu tales, the Panchatantra, or The

Fables of Bidpai , written in Sanskrit in the thirteenth century. »2. Alberta Victoria Sarah Caroline Paget married the Viscount Windsor in 1883. »3. Alfred Austin (1835-1913), was poet laureate, l 896-1913. »4. William Dalryple MacLagen (b. 1826), archbishop of York. »5. The sixth duke of Portland's half-sister, Lady Ottoline Cavendish-Bentinck who married Philip Morrell (for whom see BB to ISG, 16 October 1901). »6 . The philosopher Count Francesco Papafava.

[Florence] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

May 4,

l

898

In the spring time a young man's fancies lightly tu~n to thoughts of love they say. It is spring. The nightingales sing all day long. Every hour the roses are growing more crimson, and exhale a more refreshing perfume. But my thoughts are of war. I began with a lukewarm interest in the affair. But the bitter hatred which the whole continent is belching out upon us since the war has begun, has turned me into a wild patriot, and I take no interest in anything except the papers. It is most exasperating, for the Italian dailies give but garbled and pro-Spanish news, and my English paper seems stale when it reaches me. Thus far success is on our side, and I exult as if I was the descendant of all the possible old families instead of being a merely adopted American. Yesterday I had occasion to see Bardini, and he spent an hour raging up and down in fury over the sale of the Raphael. Of course he had no idea what part I had in it. He stalked up and down ejaculating, "un Raffaello verissimo per un prezzo vile, dico vile, vile." And now, I wonder whether you can begin to think of the Schonborn Holbein. It will not be safe to leave it much longer; and if it goes, I sincerely believe the last chani:e of a truly great Holbein goes with it. I have every hope of getting it for not more than £12,000. I told you in my last letter that I had seen Davis. A day or two later he startled me by the declaration that he had bought Donna Laura Minghetti's Leonardo. 1 I was indeed startled, for if there be ought on earth I had. thought qf as intangible it was that picture. Morelli had left it to her, and there was a halo of mystery and unapproachableness about it. Under the spell of that illusion I never as much as thought whether it was a possible picture for your collection. Coming to think about it in that light, I can say sincerely that I should have hesitated long before recommending it to you. I was not over hot in pressing the Giorgione upon you, a picture of to me indubitable authenticity, for the reason only that its condition leaves to be

135


desired. Donna Laura's picture I adore, but its authenticity is not even to me absolutely certain, and if it be Leonardo as I believe, it certainly is not as he left it. In my opinion he only underpainted it, and almost all that now appears was put in by an almost modern painter, some say a certain Castagnolo who died not very long ago. Morelli must have known this, and this view would account for his never showing it in his lifetime, and his leaving it not with the rest of his collection-to which had he fully believed in it, it would have added great glory-but to a friend. This also is the basis of the widely rumored theory that the picture is a forgery. I am saying all this so that you may not envy Davis too much. On the other hand I am very happy that even the wreck of a Leonardo, and thoroughly modernized to boot, should go to America. From Davis I almost have extracted the promise that he would leave it to Boston. I am working hard, but my theme is so difficult that I make but slow progress. From you I have not heard for some time, which means, I hope, that you are too busy enjoying yourself. Yours ever B.B. This may find you in your Brookline paradise, where I hope to join you some day. Âť r. Donna Laura Minghetti received the painting as a gift from Giovanni Morelli, the con-

noisseur whose methods BB espoused; the rest of the Morelli collection went to the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo. The painting was in a private collection in New York in 1960, but it is not listed in the standard works on Leonardo.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Florence] May 15, 1898

I have just heard from Vienna that Schonborn has changed his mind, having since the autumn obtained money, and that he now will not sell his Holbein. I am sorry, but you should have it if any one, and even now, I dare say I could get it for you for fancy prices, but for the present I should let it rest. I am sending you two photographs of two delightful cassone pictures with the story of Orpheus, about the size of your Botticelli, by an elder fellow-pupil of Botticelli's named Jacopo del Sellaio. 1 They are delicious colour, fascinating landscape, and perfectly well preserved. As I can get them for almost nothing, I strongly urge you to have them, and then actually put them as fronts to cassoni, along the walls, somewhere in your future museum. They would furnish gorgeously. The price will be between ÂŁ500 at least, and ÂŁ600 at the utmost for the two. Here is a chance for something good and cheap. If you want them cable YESELLAIO. It seems I have lived thro' revolution, but I should not have known it, if not for the papers and Placci's report.


The season is glorious. Not a hot day yet, and the fields as fragrant and fresh as earth can support them. More would be heaven. I go northJune 15. Yours ever B.B. Âť r. The Story of Orpheus is on three cassone panels in museums in Kiev and Rotterdam and in

the Lanchronski Collection, Vienna.

Green Hill Brookline May 16 [1898]

Dear Berenson

I have already written to you since we moved here. I wonder why you have not got the letter. Yours of May 4, has just come. I needed its cheer this dreary day. It is such wretched weather. Pouring-in fact all our spring has been bad, although we have managed a few perfect days for living al fresco. Green Hill is now the American Villa Medici; the prix de Brookline instead of prix of Rome. Four painters are here, hard at work. 1 They chose what they want to do-have models if they like and work. I am always also in the garden, planting and trimming. So goes the time, for war talk is forbidden. I can understand that in Europe one must be more or less Jingo-but this war is a disgrace-a politician's war-a war of a bully. We run up the flag of philanthropy! forsooth-and in Manila our very selves cause infinite more suffering than we mouth about in Cuba! If France would only chip in then we would have a dog of our size to fight-and then I would gladly (no not gladly) (war is not a glad thing ever) but I would have more pride in winning a fight. Fancy having pride in crushing a little worm! Of course once embarked on this degrading thing we must win. But it is a sorry thing. Do tell me about Davis, getting the supposed Leonardo. \X!ho did it for him-or did he do it unaided, by his little self-and how much did he pay? I wish I could have the Holbein-but alas if the price is anywhere near 12,000 pounds, 60,000 dollars, alas alas it is not for me! I must wait. War, and rumours of war make prices go down-and perhaps some one, not American, can get some tremendous Spanish pictures for me. My excitement is a tame squirrel that climbs up the trellis and looks in at the window, probably sending a message to you. The robins, the blue birds, the kingfishers, the golden winged woodpeckers, the little yellow birds are nest building everywhere-but no nightingales-alas-so our morals are saved! When do you fly north? Tell me about you all. Yours Isabella If, drunk with sight of power, we loose Wild tongues that have not Thee in aweSuch boasting as the Gentiles use, Or lesser breeds without the Law137


Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget-lest we forget!!! Âť l. Three of the four were probably Andreas Andersen, Howard Cushing (his brother-in-law),

both painters, and John Briggs Potter (1864-1945), for many years keeper, later an advisor, and at one time restorer, for the Department of Paintings, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The fourth might have been Andersen's brother, Hendrick, who was primarily a sculptor.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline Mass. May 27 [I 898]

Your letter was handed to me as I drove into town just now. As today is Friday I have hurried up to send you a word in answer that the Saturday steamer may take it. Of course I should like the cassone fronts, if the price were Lire 500! But I fear it may be pounds-and that would make it impossible-for Mr. Gardner has shut down entirely in making it possible for me to raise money. So you see it is quite as well about the Holbein. But do let us hope some day it and the Raphael may be mine. It pours, it pours every day. Yours Isabella-

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

S. Domenico di Fiesole May 29, 1898

I have just received your long delightful letter from Brookline, and despite the bad weather you report, you seem to be having a thoroughly delightful ti1nc in your painter's Academy. Four painters and one goddess! Herc also it has been raining nearly every day, but I like it. For one thing it keeps cool, and the fields look as fresh and green as I have never seen them. When the sun bursts out upon them it is delicious, and I enjoy it like an infant. With all this I have been working steadily, and reading beautiful things. My season is nearly over. I could wish it were January, and I in my present spirit for work. I am relieved that you have decided not to have the Holbein considering it is not to be had, but I wish you did not feel so poor. Times are worse here than they can be chez vous, and fine chances may arise even elsewhere than in Spain. By the way I have not been so stupid as not to think of what might turn up there in the present crisis. I do not expect much, but should anything be for sale, I expect to hear of it as soon as any one. Still you are a lucky person, and should you hear first, I beg you not to buy without consulting me in a purely friendly way.


A picture of the highest in~portance that just possibly may be had soon is the famous Diirer portrait of the Czernin Collection at Vienna. 1 It will take ÂŁ12,000 or so to get it, but as Diirer is even rarer than he is great, and as he really is one of the few greatest artists of the world, a picture by him is nowadays worth anything that the possessor is pleased to ask. This particular one is an excellent example, of unquestionable authenticity and in fine condition. I will attempt no vain rhetoric, but leave you to do, what you would do anyhow, judge for yourself from the photograph, which I enclose. Should you want it-and remember who Diirer is, and that you will never have another chance-telegraph here YEDURER. If not, tant pis, for you . I am too uncertain whether the picture is to be had. If I can get it, having offered it to you first as I feel in duty bound, I shall then offer it to another person, who, I fancy, will not refuse it. Davis was advised chiefly by his niece who was in Rome with him, and who knew all about the picture from me, for she lives here, and I had shown her the ph otograph again and again. It seems that Donna Laura was terribly hard up-the rumour is that she wanted to save her son from some bad business-and Davis was taken to see her by a dealer, who arranged the sale. As you may know Davis buys in the first place for the pleasure of getting a thing cheap, and then for glory. He got this Leonardo for ÂŁ3 ,ooo, and since then he has been swaggering it about in Paris or London, to my great regret, for almost none of the people who have seen it, believe in it at all. My friends think that this time I am wrong, and my enemies rejoice. But I am convinced that the portrait was originally by Leonardo. Only to see his hand in it nowadays one must know Leonardo as I know him, or know nothing at all and take it on faith. Having a notion of this I begged Davis to show it to none except one or two friends of mine, but his head is quite turned. I believe I have not yet thanked you for your charming kindness to my sister. She was most enthusiastic about you, and I can not tell you how grateful I am. Write after this to Baring Bros. London. Yours ever B.B. Diirer's Portrait of a Clergyman, Czernin Collection, Vienna, was purchased by Samuel H . Kress in I 9 50 and is now in the National Gallery of Art. Âť1 .

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Florence] June 12, 1898

I already am in the midst of packing, and am off in three days. Since I last wrote I have been down to Rome and Naples, and I need not say that both places were full to me of delightful memories of you. They were enchanting in themselves too, in the first flush of summer. In Rome I saw the fascinating Grazioli, and her residuary lover Camastro. How pleasant they are to 139


look at, both of them! Your very dear friend, the Pasolini, is coming this afternoon to see my rooms. They are becoming a show place, and are charming, and I owe them, as old fashioned people would say, next to God, to you. I have got wind of one of the most delicious pictures I have seen in all my picture-hunting existence. It is the bust of an enchantingly quaint boy, by Rembrandt, and of his best years, and greatest wealth of colour. In a few days I hope to have a photograph to send you. As for a Rembrandt, it is very, very cheap, no matter how poor you are, you must not refuse it. 1 Good bye. B.B. » r . The painting has not been identified.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Fiesole June 14, 1898

With my last breath, so to speak, before leaving Florence, I am writing that I am sending you two photographs of the Rembrandt I spoke of the other day. The photographs are as bad as they can be, yet they will serve to give you an idea of the quaint, winsome, utterly loveable child's face that it is. Once you have had a look into those bluish green eyes, you will simply worship it. The colour is the most gorgeous 'in existence, golden, dazzling, flesh, golden brown hair, the white of the lace collar touched with magic, the coat dark green, the background lighter green. I have seen most of the Rembrandts in existence. Many are larger. None are greater, few as great. It is life size, and has only one slight flaw, which, if you care, I could have touched up so that nobody would know the difference. That is the scratch on the hand. But I should leave it, for otherwise, it is perfectly virgin. Well, I dare say you are wanting to come to terms. It is a picture which is worth at least £6,ooo, and £10,000 might be paid for it fairly. I can get it for you for £2, ooo (pounds sterling). As a bargain it rivals the Inghirami Raphael. As a picture it is far more loveable and beautiful. So, unless by some unaccountable fluke, it does not appeal to you, telegraph as soon as possible YEMBANT. Up till July l inclusive, my address will be Hotel du Quai Voltaire, Paris. If you take it please send the money, and the shipping order immediately. And please, please do not let this exquisite thing slip out of your hands. Mr. Gardner cannot be so obdurate. Yours ever B. B.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline June 24 [ l 898]

Two letters from you closely following each other, and why was the first so delayed? I am very much excited about it, for it tells of the Czernin Diirer-


and the extraordinary part of it is that about three weeks ago friends of mine in Paris wrote to me about that picture asking if I would like to buy it and mentioning a possible price (a very low one) if I would maintain absolute secrecy. I answered them to find out what they could do exactly, and to act for me if I cabled. Now comes your letter, which seems to make it sure they mean to sell it. In the present condition of things I can't ask you to get it for me until I hear again from the first offer. I only hope you won't be bidding against each other? It seems to be quite true that every one feels poor now and the selling of pictures has begun. I wish that the moment for buying would come. It is very bad times here. I hope to get the photograph of the Rembrandt in a day or two. Your sister is coming with a friend to see my roba including the garden, in a day or two-a week I mean. A friend from Newport has just come with wonderful tales about Davis. He, Davis, seems to be quite mad with joy about the Leonardo. Why does he consider himself in rivalry with me? He snorts with joy at having "known enough" to get a dealer to outwit me about the Donna Laura picture! And I, all the while, had never even thought of it. I am beginning to think of myself as rather a strange person: I am always so really glad to have him or any one else bring splendid pictures here. My garden is riotous, unholy, deliriously glorious! I wish you were here. Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

ParisJune28, 1898

I have been in Paris for a week, suffering from a violent cold which in the wretched weather we are having refused to get better. Nevertheless I have kept my spirits, and I have been enjoying myself. With Placci who is here I went to the theatre twice. Once it was to hear Coquelin in Cyrano de Bergerac.1 He did it well, but well as he did it I enjoyed the piece more when I read it. Do you know it? It is delicious full of hair-breadth escapes not only in the situation but in the rhymes, and charmingly conceited. Then we saw Rejane in Zaza a very amusing piece, acted by the most satisfactory of actresses. 2 At last Mme. Edouard Andre has shown me her collection. 3 She invited Primoli and Ephrussi4 as well as myself, and after lunch, weeping hot tears of emotion, and embracing us all around she opened up her secret halls, and showed us the exquisite treasures which her immaculate taste had gathered together, and which her exquisite taste had arranged. I confess, as to arrangement I was a little taken aback. For a moment I was so sure that I was at Bardini's that I had to rub my eyes to convince myself that I was not. In truth Mme. Andre has shamelessly copied the shop-keeper. She has a few first rate marbles and bronzes: Donatello, Desiderio da Settignano and Laurana. I was enchanted with them, and expressed my admiration. With


strean1ing eyes Mme. Andre cried "Dites, dites encore C'est beau, ces tout des

pieces incomparables. N'est-ce pas beau! Et sonque que j'y ai mis toute, toute ma vie." She has officially announced that she will leave her whole hotel, and what is therein, to the city of Paris. As for paintings she possesses chiefly rubbish. Only a Holy Family by Signorelli rises into the first rank. She has a rather fine Carpaccio also. But her finest possession is a really beautiful staircase which she has had built to set off the gorgeous Tiepolo frescoes that she got from [the Villa Pisani at] Stra. At Kann's this afternoon I saw a little Benozzo, the size of this sheet of paper, for which he paid £1,000, and it was worth it. But I must not bore you with accounts of my various visits. The Salons are miserable, everything it seems to me in decline, Rodin most of all. His Balzac is a stupid monstrosity. In so far as he has form at all, he looks like a polar bear standing on his hind legs. 5 Has Joe Smith come abroad, I wonder. I dare say he is here now, if one only knew where he was. In three days I leave for London. I hope you are having some summer. Here it is frightfully cold. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson »I. Coquelin was the stage name for Benoit Constance (1841-1920). Cyrano was his most successful role. »2. Rejane was the stage name for Gabrielle Charlotte Reju (1856-1920). » 3. With her death in l 9 l 2, Mme. Edouard Andre's home and its collection, now the Musee Jacquemart-Andre, was left to the lnstitut de France. »4. Charles Ephrussi was editor of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts . » 5. Rodin's statue of Balzac, commissioned in r 89 I by the Societe des Gens de Lettres, caused such controversy that the society refused to honor its commitment.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

London July 6, 1898

Our correspondence is becoming singularly one sided. I write more and more frequently, and you less and less. The loss is mine. But this time I have to tell you of a matter of unparalleled importancea matter that at least equals your Europa. You know of course all about the great Florentine banker, and protector of the arts in the age of Leo X, BlNDO ALTOVITI. In his earlier years he was painted by Raphael. Later on when he was in the prime of his vigorous manhood, Benvenuto Cellini made a bust of him in bronze. 1 Cellini tells us all about this bust in his own Autobiography. Vasari, altho' the personal enemy of Cellini speaks of it with the greatest praise. In truth, ever since then, and with every reason, it has passed as one of the world's greatest masterpieces. There is in existence no sculptured portrait to be put anywhere near it. And its patina is very gorgeous. Well by a singular and fortunate combination of things, I am able to offer you this prize. Pray believe that it has taken all my skill to achieve this, and even now it is only a strong hope, not an absolute certainty. The Roths-


childs, and many others are after it, and odd as it will sound to you, if they buy it they will pay several thousand pounds more than the price at which I can get it for you. This price will be not less than £9,000, and not more than £1 l,ooo-at least, I hope. I am sending you photographs to give you some notion of what the bust is like. There is no time to be lost. If you will have it, wire at once: Berenson. Baring Brothers, London, YECELLINI. If you decide not to have it, pray return the photographs. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson » r. Bindo Altoviti (1491-1557), whose father moved from Florence to Rome, was a known

enemy of the Medici but a great patron of the arts. Cellini's bust was in the Palazzo Altoviti until 1888, when it was offered to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, by Ned Warren. When the museum refused it, Warren informed BB, who had Colnaghi buy it. Raphael's portrait of Altoviti is in the National Gallery of Art.

[Florence] July 6, l 898

Dear Friend, I had scarcely posted the letter about the Cellini addressed, by the way, to 152 Beacon St., when yours of June 24th arrived. How odd that the letter about the Diirer should have been so late in reaching you. Now let me tell you about it. I have had the photograph which I sent you, and the proposal to sell it ever since last February. But you wrote such piteous tales of your empty purse; I for my part was so very eager for you to get the Raphael, that until you bought that, I thought it better to keep quiet about the Diirer. Then you wrote that you barely had money enough to scrape together for the Raphael, and I really felt as I could not in decency approach you about another expensive picture until you had time to recover. Meanwhile, judging by what you tell me, the Czernins may have been getting more and more hard up, and willing to take less than they would earlier. Now, as it is my almost invariable habit never to drive a bargain home until I hear that you wish to buy, I have done nothing which could spoil the market. So if your friend now can get it cheaper than I could have in February, I wis~ you good speed, and shall be delighted. If he can not manage it, then you can let me know. But even among masterpieces there is a hierarchy, and I trust you will realize the importance of choosing the Cellini, if you should feel able to buy only one of the two. Davis has gone stark mad. I am very fond of him, and I owe him much gratitude but there is no doubt he is but half a civilized man. As for his Leonardo, I fear I am the only person entitled to have an opinion who sincerely believes in its genuineness. It is so repainted that most people believe it to be a forgery. It is refreshing to think of you at Green Hill. I have been in London 143


three days only, but rush so much that I already sigh for green fields, and the smell of grass. Ever and always yours B.B.

Dear Berenson

Beach Hill Pride's Xing Beverly July 7 [ l 898]

Day before yesterday arrived the photograph of the pretty Rembrandt boy. Yesterday I cabled "YEMBRANT"-and this moment 7 P.M.-I have received your answer "Sold." I am very sorry, but it can't be helped now. Our beastly government do give me such a lot of trouble with photographs. They keep them forever; then appraise them, then send me duty bills to pay. As I can't see anything I buy owing to the iniquitous tariff-it in a way consoles me for not getting the little boy. Wouldn't you be cursing and swearing if you owned the Rubens, Pesellinos, Giorgione, Correggio, Crivelli, and Raphael and couldn't even lay your eyes on them? How long, oh Lord, how long? So you see I am also comforted in the delay about the Vienna Holbein, and the Czernin Diirer-only I must have them sometime-must-see? I have just arrived here. The sea roars; it is very cool and I am tired and weary. And it makes me say to you-"take care of yourself, and don't get ill again." Yours Isabella-

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

July 9, 1898 [Pall Mall]

Is it not too bad! The Rembrandt was reserved for me only a fortnight, and between my writing and your wiring 23 days elapsed. The picture had just been sold. However, I hope to bring you many consolations soon. Be sure you do not delay about the Cellini. If I succeed in getting it at all, it will be the greatest of all possible triumphs. By the bye, should this reach you, before you have answered, you might cable here, direct, that is to say: Berenson, DELICIOUS, London, etc. I am just off for the country till Monday. Most of next week I shall pass at blessed Oxford. Yours ever B.B.

Beach Hill Pride's Xing Beverly July l 8 ( l 89 8] Your letters, dear friend, are always so delightful. I have just been reading to myself and then to others your enchanting description of Madame 144


Andre's collection, and your visit there. Also I have at hand and have looked over, but without the time to really read, your article about Baldovinetti in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts. I find I accidentally am writing on a half sheet! Forgive! The air from the sea under my window is absolutely delicious, and the continuous persuasion of the sea is irresistible! Do you know that sound that I mean? We came here ten days ago-but I often go to Brookline to look at the flowers that I love. I have been raking in rst prizes (did I already tell you?) for Japanese irises, foxgloves, Canterbury bells, and larkspurs. I am sending you now the little photograph of that piece of sculpture that is in my wall, like the great sarcophagus we saw in Sicily. But I fear the picture is too poor for you to see how lovely the thing is. Two splendid photographs from you, just come. There is no letter and no writing on the back, so I do not know of what the photographs are, except that I am familiar with it. I have seen a bust in marble not exactly, but very much like it-please tell me about it. Where is it, who owns it? I should like to hear your voice reading Theocritus. When shall it be? What are you doing and where? Yours Isabella-

Dear Mrs. Gardner

London. July 26,

I

898

I leave for the North tomorrow. If I stayed longer I should collapse, living the absurd unnatural life one lives here. The Cellini, as I have every hope will be yours, and for not more than ÂŁr r,ooo, and possibly for a little less. But there are interminable complications which I have been fighting for the last three weeks at the cost of nearly all my time. These complications are by no means over. For the present I have done all in my power. The conclusion of the affair may lag on into September. But be of good cheer. Meanwhile I have picked up for you one or two charming pictures, a most exquisite Bronzino for instance. 1 But more of this when I send you the photograph. There has not been a day for weeks when I have not been out at 9 in the morning, or when I have been able to go to bed before one. Don't scold, for a good deal has been on your account. Still in a feverish sort of way I have enjoyed myself. I shall spend the whole of August in Scotland, in the Highlands this time. There will be no pictures, and people in small doses, and much good air, I hope, and not too much rain. One very charming woman I have met here, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, the actress. 2 I took her down to dinner the other evening, and for three hours I had the company of a person who entertained and amused and bewitched 145


me instead of reducing me as usual to the despair of a person sinking a deep artesian well in a waterless waste. Don't worry about the Cellini, I am doing enough of that for both of us. Besides, I am confident that but for unimaginable new complications it will be ours. Yours devotedly B.B. » l. Purchased from Colnaghi A Lady in Black and White is by a close follower of Bronzino.

»2. Beatrice Stella Tanner (Mrs. Patrick Campbell) (1867-1940), English actress.

Dear Mrs. Gardner

London July 27, I 898

I am writing again to tell you that today the Cellini seems more hopeful than ever and that I am sending you the photograph of a picture which I have long been wishing to be able to offer you. It is the portrait of Mme. Vigee le Brun, painted, as the enclosed extract from her memoirs will tell you, in 1783, at Antwerp, in emulation of Rubens's famous Chapeau de Paille. 1 It is really an enchanting thing, and a masterpiece of last century art. If it takes your fancy you can have it for four thousand pounds, by cabling to me, Berenson Baring Bros. London YEVIGEE. The National Gallery recently bought an obvious copy of it-a fact which can not but add to the fun of possessing the original. My friend Herbert Horne is going to publish them presently side by side, along with other examples of copies which Poynter has recently been buying as originals. 2 I also send the engraving by Muller mentioned in the extract. Yours in haste ofpacking B.B. »I. Self Portrait after Rubens's "Chapeau de Paille," signed and dated 1782, by Elisabeth Vigee-

Lebrun is now in the Rothschild Collection, Paris. The portrait in the National Gallery, London, is a copy. »2. Sir Edward Poynter (1836-1919), painter of historical pictures and Slade Professor at University College, London, l 871-75, was director of the National Gallery, l 8941904.

Wallington, Northumberland j ul y 3 I , I 89 8 I can not tell you, dear Friend, how happy your last letter has made me feel. After a day of the sort of travel which one meets with only in England on the day before Bank Holiday, I got here last night in time for dinner, tired and nervous. While dressing I read your delightful words breathing such joy, and telling a tale of exquisite living. It was like a tonic to me. Have you received the last number of the Golden Urn? 1 Read the account of Altamura.


You are the only person in the world who could really live it-indeed you do already. Should anything like it be ever realized upon earth you must be our first visiting monarch. So many thanks for the photograph of the bas-relief. It gives me an idea of something very refined and charming. The same post by the way brought me a letter from my sister full of glowing enthusiasm for you, nay of worship. I am so grateful to you for being kind to her. You will not easily find a more appreciative person. Since leaving London I have spent two days in the magic cloister and enchanted gardens of Cambridge, talking deeply of metaphysics and poetry and frivolously of politics, with keen eager youth, and my own contemporaries. I love to go to the English universities, and to be with men who are in great earnest about problems as remote as possible from the hot pressing ones of the day. Here too it is charming. A beautiful old house, roomy and of grand dignity with the refined and severe seemliness of the 17th century at its close. My host is Sir George Trevelyan, whose son Bobbie is a very dear friend of mine and my pleasant travelling companion. To write of business out of my present mood is almost a desecration, but I must. I am sending you the photograph of the Bronzino. You will see it is the portrait of a Medici princess, every inch a very great lady, but with no skirt, no swagger, as deeply refined, as beautiful as her contemporary, friend perhaps, your Maria d' Austria. As a person I know nothing more attractive, and as art it is a splendid, direct thing. The Princess de Sagan2 at Paris sold one of her Bronzinos for ÂŁ4, ooo, and she has one remaining for which she wants as much. Indeed I was approached about this picture, but I much prefer the one of which I am sending you the photograph, which, moreover you can have not for ÂŁ4, ooo, but for ÂŁ800, I repeat eight hundred pounds. But please lose no time, and if you will have it, cable YEBRONZINO. Now another matter of which at last I may speak. For some months past off and on and during my stay in London night and day I was busy persuading and threatening and plotting to obtain the opportunity of offering to you the pick of picks of a very great collection that I knew was to be bought en bloc by a syndicate. Believe me I have never had such a task in my life and I should prefer not to have such another. At last I have triumphed, and I am to be allowed to submit for your refusal the three jewels of the famous Hope Collection of Deepdene-two of the finest Rembrandts and perhaps the very best ter Borch in the world. As there are at least six buyers waiting for these same pictures, you can imagine my difficulties, and my rejoicing. Sincerely, I now am almost indifferent whether you take them or not. But I do love to give you the chance of getting the best that the world offers. Details you shall have when I send the photographs, which are being done. From here I go for a few days to the English Lakes, and then to the 147


Scotch Highlands. I shall write often. Believe, dear Friend, I think of you often, never without pleasure, and always with affection. Bernhard Berenson Th e Golden Urn. , a small publication of four issues, w as edited by BB , MB , and her brother, Log an Pearsall Smith, with one contribution b y B ertrand Russell (see postca rd 4 May 1907). Âť 2. Jeanne Marguerite Seilliere (1839-1905 ), princess of Sagan and later du chess ofTall ey randPerigord . A Young Woman and H er Little Boy by Bronzino , now in the National Gall ery of Art , was sold after l 896. Portrait of a Young Man , now in the Metropolitan Mus eum of Art , w as sold m 1903 . Âť I.

Dear Friend,

The Fairie's Hostel Kintraw, Lochgilphead Aug. 13, 1898

This is to thank [you] for your perfectly charming acknowledgment of the Golden Urn. 1 I was sure you at all events would appreciate it, and of course you have. I remember Beverly well, and most beautifully it looms in my memory thro' the glamour which glows about everything that I saw and did in my boyhood. Yet the actual reality of the spot I am on now is even more wonderful. A few feet away is one of those divine Scotch lochs, surrounded by exquisitely drawn, beautifully modelled hills, but opening on to the sea, across the silver stretch of which appear like lovely phantoms the pyramidal peaks of Tura. Tired of hotels and touring, my friend, Robert Trevelyan and I have come here to rest and to be out of the world in a small boarding house on the estate of an impoverished but most high-born laird. It is just the place for us. Country could not be lovelier. Sicily even is rather barbaric in comparison, and it has the advantage over Greece in the manifold waters. There are rills babbling everywhere into brooks, brooks tumbling into clear dark streams, and they in their turn into the sea. Then the delicious wealth of ferns and heather-it makes me happy. Since I last wrote I have seen again the famous pictures at Alnwick and Glasgow, undeservedly famous I think. Bellinis which are not Bellinis, and Giorgiones in which all the renowned critics believe but which almost disgust me. But pictures have been a by-play. My real business has been walking. We spent several days in the English lakes, and beautiful they were, not more because of Wordsworth, not less for the tourists. The loveliest spot there is Barrowdale, an idyllic valley, with idyllic people. Yesterday we were adventurous and spent the whole day on the sea. While it was calm it was delightful steaming thro' the fjords between the green and wooded shores. We saw Staffa and Sona. Staffa is a sight of sights. You must think of a great Gothic cathedral front against which the white


waves beat high, and you will have a picture of what it is like. Sona was quietly impressive, but more for its memories than for its present beauty. In short there is in Europe no land so lovely as Scotland-and I never forget that it is yours. Ever devotedly B. B. »I.

ISG's letter to BB has been lost.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Kintraw Aug. 15, 1898

I have just returned from a wonderful day's boating and walking on this enchanted coast and I find your wire about the Bronzino. I am very much pleased. You must let me know where you wish to have it sent, and be good enough to send the cheque. At last I am sending the photographs of those jewels of the Hope Collection about which I wrote you from Wallington, a fortnight ago. Two are of Rem brand ts and the other of a ter Borch. The two Rembrandts are signed of course and were painted in the same year, as attested by the dates 163 3. They are therefore from the master's first full maturity, and being very different in subject yet painted at the same time, a glance at them together gives one a marvelous idea of Rembrandt's range-and for this reason they should if possible not be separated. The one picture represents, as you will see, a couple, quiet, refined people, limned in a dignified, distinguished way, and not scamped, and dashed off as so many of Rembrandt's pictures are. If in this canvas you see him at his height as a portrait-painter, in the other you see him as the profound interpreter and great poet. It represents Christ and the Disciples out on the lake when He is waked to still the storm which has arisen. You remember how anxious we were to get The Mill and how enormous a price you were ready to pay for it. Well, this Storm on the Water has much of the stirring depth of feeling of The Mill, and has the figures to boot. In colour both the pictures are in the master's blond, golden tone. The Storm measures 5 ft. 3 in. by 4 ft. 2 in. The Portrait measures 4 ft. 3 in. by 3 ft. 6 in. Together I can get them for you for nineteen thousand pounds (£19,000). Separately the Portrait will cost £13,000, and the Storm £6,ooo. The third picture is ter Borch's famous Music Lesson. In the opinion of most of us ter Borch is by far the most refined, the most balanced, and most gifted of genre painters. The quality of his line has the strength and simplicity of Manet at his best. In colour he rivals Titian and Giorgione. All ofter Borch's best qualities are fully and clearly revealed in this Music Lesson, and for this reason I have had the greatest difficulty to get the chance at all of offering it to you-so many are after it. It is signed with the master's monogram, measures 2 ft. l in. by l ft. 8 in., and is for quality, size and 149


co1nposition one ofter Borch's three or four most important achievements . This will cost eleven thousand pounds (£1 l,ooo). The Hope Collection of which these three pictures are the gems came over with Hope a favourite of William of Orange, and therefore may be said to come fresh from the painter to whosoever now will buy them, skipping the one family which has always owned them hitherto. 1 I have said my say, and now it is for you to decide. As I am in duty bound to let the people who now have them know as soon as possible, I beg you to be kind enough to cable if even you want none of them. "No" will suffice. Should you want them all, cable ALL. Should you want both the Rembrandts, cable YEMBANTS. If the portraits only, cable COUPLE. If the Storm only, cable STORM. If the ter Borch only YEBORCH, or if the ter Borch and one of the Rembrandts YEBORCH, COUPLE, or STORM. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson The Storm on th e S ea of Galilee and Th e Music Lesson were owned by other collectors in the seventeenth century. Provenance for A Lady and G entleman in Black begins in the eighteenth century, when the three pictures were united in the Hope Collection in Amsterdam . »I.

Dear Berenson

Pride's Xing August 3o [ l 898]

I have just got your letter about those wonderful pictures. I hope in a day or two to get the photographs-but what can I do? I can think of no way to get money-perhaps Mr. Gardner will lend it to me-I can't borrow any more from outsiders, as I have used up all my collaterals. Mr. Gardner may be willing to lend-but now and for still a little time, he is away at our Roque Island, off the coast of Maine, five days off by post at the shortest count, and generally it takes 7 for a letter, and ten for a parcel. I wish there were some way of holding on to these pictures. You said originally that perhaps the Cellini might be bought for £9,000-and in your last you said you hoped to get it for l l, ooo-dear, dear! If you only knew what those £2,000 extra pounds meant to me! As soon as the photographs arrive, I will send them to Mr. Gardner to see. They must persuade him, and if I hear yes from him, I will cable to you. Hastily and quite unhappily yours Isabella

P. S. Your description of the sea picture makes me fairly ache for it! [Biel Dear Friend,

Prestonkirk] Aug. 30, l 898

The spirit moves me to scribble you a word before leaving this land of beauty and romance for the more common place England. I am staying in 150


a grand old house, in part going back to the 14th century, situated between the sea and the Lamermuirs, in the midst of a splendid park. My hostess is a Scotch lady, of tb.e finest type, highly cultivated yet quaintly picturesque, descended from all the kings this land has ever had, mythical as well as real. I do enjoy the quiet, the comfort, and the seemliness of this British countryhouse life. One is left alone a good deal, yet has charming society, and there are books and walks galore. On the way hither 'I saw for the first time St. Andrews, a place of enchantment, transferred by wizards you would think from some headland on the Ionian sea to the shores of the northern ocean. Also, I spent a day with that absurd person Lord Wemyss who quarrelled with me violently about his pictures. 1 He would have it that he had as many braces of Leonardos and Titians in his house, as grouse on his· moors. But I enjoyed so much the beauty of his granddaughter, an extraordinary Pheidian type that a slanging was paying cheap. I hope you are suffering less now from the heat, . and you have the glory of the American autumn before you. Yours ever B.B. » r. Francis Charteris (18 l 8-1914), earl of Wemyss.

Pride's Xing Sept. 9 [ r 898] A very hurried little word, dear Berenson, to thank you for your letter, such a charming one, from Prestonkirk. I could feel the wind over the heather! I have just come back, an hour ago, from a "triumphal progress" so to speak, at Newport. Such festivities such smart people, and such an open air horse show. A little too much of everything. But to this country monde it was deliciously dazzling. The quiet morning was Sunday when I went to see Davis and the Leonardo. He is bursting with pride. The picture does look lovely! I enclose the money plus 5 °/o for the Bronzino. Please send it straight to E. A. Snow Custom House Boston. I am sleepy-so good night. Yours Isabella-

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Braunschweig] Sept. r r, r 898

Two days ago at Cologne I received a letter from you, as always charming, but unhappy. Now please, be reasonable. You can not possess all the great pictures that come into the market. You are very lucky to have what you already have got. I doubt whether in our times anyone else has got together in such a short time so great a collection. I hope for its further growth 151


indefinitely. I still hope that you may be deciding to afford the Hope pictures. If not paz ienza. You will have had, at all events, the first offer of them. Surely you misread me about the Cellini. In my first letter I told you that I could not hope to get it for less than nine, and that I hoped not to have to pay more than eleven thousand pounds. When I wrote to you again that the affair could not be settled at once, I added, to assure you that the difficulty was not over the bargain, that it would not cost over ÂŁ1 l, ooo. As a matter of fact I expect to get it for ÂŁ10,000. But when? You must be patient. There are endless difficulties to overcome, owing to endless multiple ownership. I left London Tuesday and after broiling days at Lille and Brussels and Cologne, I got yesterday to Hildesheim. Do you know it? A quaint town of charmingly conceited timber houses, several fine churches, and some remarkable sculptures. There it was much cooler. Here it is also charming and quaint. After all a great deal of the cosy, easy going Germany still remains, and a good deal of art, and much unworldliness. But their great cities I love not, and tomorrow I plunge for a week into the horridest of them-Berlin. I shall however see some fine pictures. Yours ever B. B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Berlin Sept.

l

6,

l

898

Three days ago I received your wire to go and see at Agnew's a Raphael and to report. 1 Well, even if I were in London it would have been impossible for me to see the picture, for the si1nple reason that Agnew's probably would under no circumstances have shown it me. The last thing I should have cared to do would be to tell them that I came as your agent. For you even more than for me it is necessary that the dealers should not treat me as your adviser. But even if I had come as your agent, so convinced am I that in every probability the picture is a humbug that Agnew's would even then have refused to show it me, preferring to lose you as a buyer to my publicly announcing myself against the picture. It has been my unpleasant task to spoil Agnew's game more than once before. I could write much and even entertainingly on this score but I am far too busy and too tired now. But to return to our matter, I have in the last three days kept up a copious and constant telegraphic correspondence with my agents in London. Their efforts have failed absolutely in getting me a photograph. All they have been able to learn is that the portrait is the bust of a young man, somewhat resembling Raphael himself, that it is l 7 in. high, and l 3 wide, and that it is under offer for twenty thousand pounds, and that Agnew's is confident that the person to whom it has been offered will buy it. Now directly I read your cable I suspected at once that the picture in question is one which I have known for some time, and what I have been


[able] to learn confirms my suspicion. This is a bust of a young man, with hair down to his shoulders, wearing a cap. All last winter it was at a dealer's named Volpi at Florence. It was Raphaelesque, much prettified by recent restoration, and obviously by Raphael's Florentine imitator Ridolfo Ghirlandaio. 2 It was worth at the utmost five hundred pounds. When Davis was at Florence I told him of this picture, and told him that if he could get it for £500 he had better. But Volpi had got it into his head that it was a Raphael. Now I am almost certain that the picture Agnew's have offered to you is the same R. Ghirlandaio. Still, to make perfectly certain I have just cabled to you to send me the photo. You need not have the slightest fear that in the meanwhile Agnew's will sell it. Their reputation is not of the kind which will admit of English or Continental buyers taking the picture on their word. Either they have tried with these already and failed, or do not even think of trying, but have tempted you on the bare chance of succeeding. I say all this to assure you that the chance of the picture selling quickly is small. But directly I receive the photo, I will cable to you. If it is what I suspect NO will do. If not I shall cable fully. About the Hope pictures I have not yet heard from you, not even a NO, which at least would enable me to wind up the affair. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson » r. Thomas Agnew & Son, still one of the leading London art dealers. »2. The Portrait of a Young Man is now in the Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, N. Y. Bought by W. C. Whitney, the

painting returned on Whitney's death, in 1904, to Agnew, who sold it in 1938 to Mrs. Hyde. BB's original attribution is not to be discounted.

Dear Berenson

Beach Hill Pride's Xing Beverly Sept. 24 [1898]

Mr. Gardner has just got home; hurried back, I am sorry to say, by his sister's sudden illness and death. The first thing I did was to show him the photographs of the 3 Hope pictures. I have been longingly looking at them ever since you sent them to me. The one I like the best is the Rembrandt Storm-then the ter Borchthen and lastly the Rembrandt portraits. Those two old souls-I flatter myself that I made my little plea for them very skillfully-for he promises to lend me the money; so I immediately (half an hour ago) cabled to you "Husband returning willing I should buy all three Hope pictures." So I am now as a tramp who has the Sun all to himself. I trust you can manage this. I am greatly annoyed about the Agnew Raphael. It is a portrait of Doni-golden haired and beautiful. But he asks 20,000 guineas, and he won't let you see

153


it! I have such a foible for Raphael's golden haired men! Why are you and he such foes? I have just got an introducing note from you, and I am sending word to Mrs. Thomas to come to town next Wednesday. 1 We move to Brookline in a week, and now confusion has begun. Yours IsabellaÂťI.

Probably a cousin of MB's from Philadelphia.

My dear friend

Beach Hill Pride's Xing Beverly Sept. 2 5 [ r 898]

Having written the above words, you must understand what I write and why I write it. There is a terrible row about you. Undoubtedly you have heard it all before, and many times. I have been sorry always when I have heard of disparaging things about you; but now the vile things have been said to Mr. Gardner. That is why I am writing. They say (there seem to be many) that you have been dishonest in your money dealings with people who have bought pictures. 1 Hearing this Mr. G. instantly makes remarks about the Inghirami Raphael you got for me. He says things I dislike very much to hear, and then brings up the Schonborn Diirer and quotes the differences of prices. I cannot tell you how much I am distressed by it. Perhaps you may think it were better if I did not tell you all this. Forgive me, if you would have preferred my silence. When by my representations, he (Mr. G.) decided to lend me money to buy the Hope pictures, I was overdelighted and instantly wired and wrote to you to that effect. But today, I feel obliged to add this letter. Mr. G says "Now we shall see if he is honest." What that means I do not know-but I feel sure that you have enemies, clever and strong. What plot they lay for you I do not know but I am certain they are always watching you, and misjudging, making false representations. I pray that you may be successful in making excellent bargains for me for those 3 pictures, and that you may go your own straight way in the teeth of these evil speakers. May good luck pull you through this time, so that Mr. G. may believe me and feel convinced. Every word I write seems cruel and unnecessary. Forgive the sound of the words and look beneath them for my truly friendly motive. I fancy Emo and the Paget crowd are not the only enemies you have. Be on your guard-and believe me always Sincerely your friend) Isabella Âť r. Obviously the discrepancy in prices quoted to ISG by BB and by others led Mr. Gardner

to believe that BB was inflating prices for profit. In some cases, notably in dealings with Colnaghi, BB received a commission from the seller (as well as 5 percent from ISG). Knowing

154


ISG's thirst for bargaining, BB found it easier to quote a higher price and come down rather than face the unpleasantness of asking for more.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Munich, September 29,

l

898

For a week before I received your cable to the effect that you would have the Hope pictures I was receiving daily wires from the people now owning them clamouring for a decision. At last they wired they would wait no longer, and perforce I had to give the matter up . I have as good as lived since then at the telegraph office. The owners would no longer sell the three pictures at the old price, considering, as they had every right to, the old bargain cancelled. They would hear of nothing under £33,000 this time£3 ,ooo more. Of course I should have paid rather than let the pictures go. I did what I could however with threats, and persuasion, and promises, and to my own surprise have succeeded in bringing the price down to £30,000 again. But it has worn me out, and I have not the strength to shout hurrah. The Cellini business was also settled today. It is yours for £10,000about half the price that could be got for it. I have just cabled to you to send £40,000, and I trust you will have had no occasion to delay. Forgive this business letter. A merrier one will soon follow from your devoted friend B.B.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. Oct. 10(1898]

Mr. Gardner tells me-he is sending to your account at Earing's 40,000£. Please let me know how you divide it-I think everything had better be sent to Fernand Robert 30 rue Joubert Paris. Please send me a catalogue of the Hope Collection. It would interest me much. I trust some agent of yours in London can get it for me. This is only a very short note. I am still ill though better-for a week I have been in bed. How are you? Sincerely yours Isabella-

[Fragment

l. ]1

[Florence]

does not mistrust my advice. Please, dear Friend, do not conceive that I am feeling any animosity toward Mr. Gardner I feel none whatever. His suspicion seems to me natural. I have said, I think, all that need be said. As for you, whatever come, I shall always worship you as without exception the most life-enhancing, the

155


most utterly enviable person I have had the good fortune to know. But I hope for the best, and that our friendship is but at its b eginning . Thank you for allowing Mrs. Thomas to see your pictures. In a few days I return to Florence. Please address me there. Yours ever devotedly Bernhard Berenson

[Fragment 2.] The Cellini-perhaps the very greatest prize I have got for you-will in a day or two , be delivered, according to the instructions you gave in July, to Fernand Robert. Now, dear Friend, let me again say what I said to you at Ravenna, how deeply I was touched by the <:onfiding, genuinely friendly tone of your letter. I shall simply never forget it. Yours ever devotedly B.B. P. S. I hate to repeat myself, but I dare say I had better remind you that, as I wrote you at the start, I had the greatest difficulty in getting those three particular pictures of the Hope Collection to offer you . It took all my persuasion, all my threats, and all my influence. You see when a collection of that sort has been rifled by a person with such autho~ity as I happen to have, the other pictures sink lamentably in value. So I struggled and struggled and behold my reward!2 B.B. The following are two fragments of a letter in which BB answers accusations . Both fra gments have been dated I 8 October I 89 8 in ink in ISG's hand . »2. Although BB did not admit that he was receiving commissions, the implication was that he was paying for the privilege of having first refusal on good pictures. »I.

Dear Mrs. Gardner, I have just received your note of Oct. ro, and I am so very sorry to hear that you have been ill. Poor thing . What has been the matter with you? I hope you are all right, and now enjoying an autumn comparable to the enchanting season we are having here. At the same time I have a note from Baring telling me that they have received from you £40 ,000. You ask m e how I distribute it. A s follows. The Cellini Bust-£1 0,000 The Rembrandt Portraits- £13, 000 The Rembrandt Ship- £6, ooo The ter Borch- £ r r, ooo Total-£40,000 They shall all, according to your orders be sent to Fernand Robert . It is a shame tho' that you can't have the fun of having them while the excitement of buying them is fresh, and that you can't have them to enjoy. Did I


tell you that at Brunswick the other day I found two separate busts by Rembrandt, representing the same couple, and done in the same year as the double portrait you have just bought? 1 I do not know whether a catalogue in any shape of the Hope Collection exists. If it does you may rely on my getting you one. And now a truce to affairs . You ask me how I am. Not very well. I always feel below par returning here, and this time I have had worries to pull me lower. Then there are all one's notes to put in order, and the really awful effort required to screw myself down to the desk for the winter. And this winter it will have to be a merciless grind, for I must finish the book on drawings. But Florence just now est en beaute. Never have I known such an autumn. It is more like a golden mellow spring. The grass is lush and green, the evergreen trees look now most like dazzling bronze, and the mountains are drawn on the sky with an ineffable delicacy of touch that human hand can not rival, not even Simone Martini's. I should not complain, for in spite of somewhat low health, and worry, my pleasure in these things is so great. And yet, what would my enjoyment be in perfect health, and with a mind free from cares! Or is that an illusion? Must there always be the feeling that the cream has been skimmed away? Good bye, dear Friend, and believe me. Always yours B.B. Âť r. The oval pictures of a man and a woman in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braun-

schweig, are not of the same couple portrayed in the Gardner Museum 's picture .

5, Via Camera ta

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Florence Nov. 2, r 898

Many thanks for the ÂŁ2,000 which have come. The pictures and the Cellini will be sent to Robert's as you directed, each article valued separately. I am charmed to hear that the copy of the Giorgione is ready. Please have it sent t_o Conte A. Zileri dal Verme. Palazzo Loschi, Vicenza, Italy. Bardini is exhibiting in London odds and ends of his collection th~t he can't get rid of otherwise. When we went there together we saw almost everything. There are in addition one or two cassoni panels nothing like so nice as those by Sellaio (Story of Orpheus and Euridice) which I recommended to you last spring. In fact the pictures are so indifferent that in London Bardini gives it out that of course the Italian government would not permit him to take out his best things. I had no idea that you had been down with peritonitis-a disease of which, I scarcely know why, I have a great horror. I do hope your normal health and spirits have come back to their own by this time. I was very nice 157


to a boy the other day because he happened to say he had seen you not very many weeks ago-Blair Fairchild, who is spending the winter here. 1 It always takes me such a long time to get to work, and until I do I get more and more restless and unhappy. But I hope soon to be going at full speed. A weird and delightful autumn wind is howling. Yours ever B.B. Blair Fairchild (1877-1933), 1899 graduate of Harvard University, studied music in Florence and then in Paris after a brief career in the diplomatic service in the Near East. »I.

5, Via Camera ta, Florence

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Nov. 3, 1898

I enclose a photograph of a panel whereon is painted the profile of a youth life size. The painter is no other than perhaps the very mightiest of all Florentine painters Masaccio. 1 If you have my little book on the Florentines handy read what I have said about him there. As there is no public gallery in Europe except Berlin which has anything by him at all, and Berlin has unimportant things, you can imagine how priceless he is. Fortunately I am the first person with knowledge who has seen it. The owner has no precise idea of its value. Consequently a picture that under other circumstances one might be happy to pay four or five thousand pounds for can be had for lo,ooo Lire: So, if you want it, please cable immediately Berenson, Fiesole YESACCIO. Then send shipping orders, and the cheque. If you don't mind please send a draft for £400 on London, for exchanges on Florence are a curse both to him who giveth and to him who receiveth. What is left over from this after deducting expenses, I will keep for you. Yours in haste B.B. » 1. Recent cleaning has brought additional support for attributing A Young Man in a Scarlet

Turban to Masaccio. ISG purchased the painting on BB's recommendation from Costantini, Florence.

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. Nov. 7 [1898] This is only an affectionate little greeting, dear Berenson. I got a sad letter from you this morning. Only the weather you described was rose coloured-golden I mean. You see our Tariff is a beast! I am the one who has cause to be unhappy! And do you understand why I hate Colnaghi so for having criminally delayed sending the Crivelli to Paris in time for me to see it! He's another beast; as bad as our Tariff! A very dear old person at head of our Customs took me surreptitiously to the ware rooms and let me have


a peep, only a peep though, at the Pesellinos, the Inghirami, and the Bronzino. And I was in the 7th Heaven of delight. Are you not glad I am so glad and happy about them? I am sure there is a Hope Catalogue. I must have it. I have a letter today of introduction to the Younger Wertheimer who arrives fro1n London with a large assortment of the Hope pictures for sale!1 I had Peritonitis! There's pain for you. Cheer up, friend-"Let's be merry together. The worst is still to come." We have been steeped in colour, and are still glowing with the remembrance. Today though, the November gray look is over the land-but I love it. As I write I look over the waving trees, see the dim city beyond; and up the drive way comes an itinerant Italian with a harp, which he soon will twang under the cook's window for a dime! Cheer for Harvard. They beat the U.P--s [Pennsylvania] at football! 'Rah 'rah 'rah! Yours Isabella Âť 1. The firm of Charles Wertheimer and Son was brought into the sale of the Hope pictures

by Colnaghi.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

5, Via Camera ta, Florence Nov. 8, 1898

Costantini, to whom the profile by Masaccio of which I wrote you a few days ago belongs, assures me that I got an entirely wrong impression of its price. Do not get frightened. He wants 12,000 and not as I understood 10,000 lire. I dare say I did misunderstand, and at all events I can probably beat him down to about I I, ooo, that is to say to about ÂŁ400. By the bye, should he write to you about a little infant Christ which he believes to be by Desiderio da Settignano, and for which he says he wants 50,000 francs, refuse it as it is only a 16th century copy after the original at S. Lorenzo here. I hope you are all well again, and happy. Yours ever, B.B.

3 Via Camerata, Florence Nov. 19, 1898 What a delightful letter, dear Friend, I received from you a day or two ago! You really are the most' loveable person on earth, sunshine become flesh and blood, I know not how to describe you, but a miracle certainly, a goddess, and I-your prophet. On receiving your cable yesterday I went down to town and settled about the Masaccio. I got it for r I ,ooo lire, brought it up, and put it on my 159


wall. I turned green with envy when I saw how beautiful it looked, really properly hung against red. If I had realized how marvellous it would look in my house I fear I never could have let you have it. Now I shall keep it until I receive your shipping orders, and then I shall weep to part with it. You really are nice enough to deserve it-and even a more wonderful bargain which I am hatching, and of which I hope to write soon. Young Fairchild is staying with me while recovering from a cold. He is a beautiful thing just now. What is there at all so wonderful as the well made, healthy, clean boy just turning into manhood? It is a flower that amply rewards much trouble and care. Indeed I often wonder whether the universe has any further purpose than these moments of beauty in youth and the moments of glamour in childhood. Fairchild was beside himself with joy when I read him out the news in your letter of the Harvard Victory. Our Indian summer has turned to autumn at last. For days now a gale has been whistling about our heads, boisterous, and mournful, yet soothing in its sadness. There is something so very delicious in tran1pling over the crackling, crumpled leaves which fall from the grim trees, breathing out their life with a faint alcoholic perfume. I have been taking very long walks of late, and as ever discovering new points of view, untrodden paths, and unknown groves. Some miles above me there is on a high plateau which commands the Arno almost from Arezzo to Pisa, embowered in cypresses and pines, a deserted little villa, built in the 16th century for the Medici, as an escape from the crowd and heat. All the arrangements there are for solitude and coolness. It is going to ruin alas! But happily no one yet has thought of restoring it. My soul yearns over the place, and I long to possess it, keep it from further ruin, bring back the flowers to the half-effaced garden, and to retire there as to a retreat, when I want to be quite alone with the winds and rocks and trees, and a few great poems. But oh the sordid bargaining, the heart-breaking squabbles with the thousand and one filthy Florentines before you had bought, repaired, and made the place once more what it was. So I let it remain a longing. Yours devotedly B.B.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline Mass. Nov. 21 [1898]

What shall I do? Mr. Gardner won't lend me the extra that Costantini wants. So if he (Costantini) can't be beaten down, I must go without the Masaccio! I shall be awfully sorry, for I love that head. Can't you make him go back to the lO,ooo Lire? Isn't it splendid about Harvard? 'Rah, 'Rah, 'rah-Harvard 17 Yale o. And at football too! oh oh-and the little Freshmen too-Harvard l 6 Yale o. Everybody and thing is crimson. Yours Isabella 160


Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. Deeb 3 Sunday [ r 898]

I got a delightful letter full of crackling autumn leaves, mellow sunshine, and Blair Fairchild. A dear, he is; but do not spoil him. Tell me how he gets on with music; and tell him that yesterday at the Somerset, I was lunching. At another table was a man I knew eating with another I didn't know. This latter turned out to be Dibblee the Captain of the Football. 1 Up got the man I knew, came to me and said "Mrs. Gardner would you mind knowing Dibblee; he has asked to be presented!" Mind? It was the proudest day of my life! So you see we are still quivering over our Victory. I began this letter, simply to tell you how happy I am to own the Masaccio. How about the money I sent. Did it take all and more? Please have it the Masaccio sent immediately to E. A. Snow Custom House Boston. I will pay the duty, as the picture is not colossally dear, and have the fun of it. Otherwise I may die and never see any of them! If part of the money you paid was a commission to Costantini, deduct that, and I won't have to pay duty on it. And do, hurry it up. I am crazy to see it. We have had such storms-snow and wind. Tonight, another one is blowing up. I have come early to bed. Which means sending off the servants, and here I am with a wood fire, and light, shut up in my own room, writing to you-I in pink flannel wrapper. Goodnight. The results of the last storm are terrible. The sea hourly giving up its dead. I had two snowdrift accidents and have a cold in consequence. always Yours Isabella Âť 1. Benjamin Harris Dibblee, Harvard class of 1899.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Dec. 4, 1898

How charming both your last notes have been, and I quite share your enthusiasm about Harvard's recent successes. Curious how as the years go by, I think with more and more pleasure of how the grass looked one May afternoon in front of Gore Hall under the slanting light of the descending sun, how cool it felt, and how transfigured the world looked. Your cheque, converted into Italian money fetched ro, 800 lire. As I already have written to you I have paid Costantini r r ,ooo lire. Now it would be monstrous to throw a way the chance of getting for next to nothing a supreme master-piece, because of a thousand lire one way or the other. Costantini assures me I misunderstood him. I could beat him down no lower than r r, ooo, and I am sending the picture to you to E. A. Snow, Boston. If you will let me, we will call it square, and I shall have the pleasant feeling r6r


that to an infinitesi1nal degree this picture is my gift to you. Or, if you really hold out, on some principle that I can not understand, on not having it unless for lO,ooo lire, then send it back to me, and I shall rejoice to keep it for myself. Believe but for considerations of friendship and obligation, I ~hould seize this opportunity of retaining for myself, at a price within my means, a picture which not only is a 1nasterpiece of the highest order, but one which personally I should love to live with. Do you know, I can't believe that we already are on in December. The air is delicious with a cool south wind blowing, and all is asparkle. Last night I walked back toward midnight from Settignano, where I had been to keep young Fairchild company at his first dinner in a little villa he has taken there. The moon had just risen, and had a cool clearness about it as of an enchanted pool, as it lay on the whitewashed houses I passed, and lit up each twig of the olives on the roadside. Then the calm of it all, not a breath stirring, and the Fiesole range towering like a mass of bronze over against the sky-line. I have got to work at last and am happier but less well in consequence. I do enjoy working. I learn so much, penetrate into all the nooks and crannies of my subjects, get a flash of full light into hidden places, and at last see it all alive and rationalized before me. It is a great pleasure too in writing to find oneself occasionally putting down a better phrase than one had expected. I have been having a great bout of Pater. Do you know I shiver all over with pleasure as I read certain lines of his. They make me feel keenly alive in so many unwonted places by giving the quickening word that sends off in radiant beauty the dull chrysalis of many a vague idea, or half felt sensation. I have heard a couple of stories lately which you may not know. A curate breakfasting with his bishop, opened an egg bad enough to attract his lordship's attention. "I fear your egg really is too bad, you'd better have another" remarked the bishop. "Oh no, my lord," piped back the curate, "parts of it are excellent." The other is of a little boy who much desired a bicycle. His pious parents told him that if he prayed for one God would give him one for Xmas. Meanwhile the parents decided that a tricycle would be better for him. When he woke on Xmas morning and found this in his room, he burst into tears, and cried out "O God, don't you know the difference between a bicycle and a tricycle!" Yours ever B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Dec. 7, 1898

I am sending you the photograph of a picture which in two ways is very remarkable. To begin with, it is a fine work by one of the greatest names in 162


the history of art-Sebastiano del Piombo. As you know, Sebastiano, after adopting the style of Giorgione with a felicity which few equalled, migrated, on Chigi's invitation, to Rome. There he became the most intimate friend of Michelangelo. Well the picture of which I am sending you the photograph is no less than a portrait, as you see life-size, of Michelangelo, the greatest all in all of Italian artists, by Sebastiano one of the great Italian painters. Furthermore this picture is the only portrait of Michelangelo in existence which certainly is authentic. 1 The other pictures are worthless. And the only other decent portrait at all is a bronze bust. An edition is to be published at last of all Michelangelo's private correspondence, hitherto jealously locked up. To this edition, which will appear simultaneously in all the principal languages, they will be only too happy to add this portrait as a frontispiece. That of course would increase its money value enormously, and hence I have said nothing about it to the dealers who own it at present. Meanwhile I can get it for the very modest price of ÂŁ700. So I strongly urge you to lose no time to possess yourself of this most interesting panel. Cable YEPIOMBO, if you want it-as I trust you certainly will, and in that case send cheque, and shipping order. Our weather is more like Paradise everyday-a real miracle. Yours ever B.B. Âť r. Now attributed to Baccio Bandinelli, the panel was published by Waagen (Treasures of Art

in Great Britain, [London, 1854], 3:176) and exhibited in London's Royal Academy, 1879-80, as Michelangelo by Sebastiano del Piombo. In 1902, Charles Eliot Norton confirmed ISG's identification of the sitter as Bandinelli. Called Self Portrait in the Gardner Museum catalogue, it is the only picture extant attributed to Bandinelli's own hand. ISG purchased the painting from Colnaghi.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Dec. r 5, r 898 1

I enclose a bill for the insurance of the Hope pictures on their journey from London to Paris. Also I send, but can not well enclose, my heartiest good wishes for a Happy New Year, preceded by the Merriest of Christmases. You know how much I care. Valdarno has been turned today into a sea, and I have been living like a crustacean fixed to a rock. In other words I wrote until four about the stupidest of painters. Then I walked out, and climbed to Fiesole, almost certain that there I should be above the mist. Sure enough when I got to where the Villa Kraus is I leant over the garden wall and looked over a vast lake of rolling clouds, fluffy and shapeless, or rather like dreams trying and never succeeding in taking shape. Above, the sky was clear blue and in the west the sun was setting in crimson clouds, leaving behind it patches of glorious green, burnished green painted on gold. What a spectacle, and to think that


I lived there for years, and used to enjoy this effect, and think rather maliciously of the denizens in the town soused in the sea of damp. Now alas I am little better than they. Then to think that I left Fiesole because of the brass-band! Well I seem destined to be haunted by brass. A squad of soldiers comes every morning to the bottom of my hills, and toots for hours, each as he listeth. However they can not spoil my enjoyment of life. And Dear Friend, I never, never forget how much of this I owe to you. Yours affectionately B. B. » r. BB was of course unaware that John L. Gardner had died on r 5 December. It seems that

BB was not informed until late January; his letter of condolence has been lost.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata Florence Dec. 20, r 898

Ever since I have been buying for you at all I have been looking out for a Fra Filippo, a Filippino, and a Fra Angelico. The most precious and the greatest of these masters is of course Fra Angelico, and at last I have my hook in a work by this angel which I hope to land safely. But as this is far from certain you must not be disappointed if I fail. I am sending you the photograph and writing in haste because the greatest despatch is necessary. The photograph is far from satisfactory, and yet it will show you that the picture in question is one of the loveliest ever painted. All that deep and sweet sentiment and great qualities of art can do to make a picture gracious and beautiful has been done here. There scarcely is another picture by Fra Angelico so rich in motif, and so refined in handling. As you see it represents the Funeral of the Virgin, Christ receiving her soul in the form of an innocent infant, and then her assumption. It is on panel of course, 24 in. high, and r 5 wide. I hope to get it for about £ 5, ooo, perhaps for a little less, perhaps for a little more. It is not dear, and I really can not imagine our ever finding an equally satisfactory example of this glorious painter. 1 Indeed I can think of but two works-and they both are beyond reach of moneywhich one could prefer, and they are the Coronation in the Louvre and the other in the U ffizi. If you want it please cable YESOLE, and Paris or Boston, according as to where you shall want it shipped. Then if I really can get it, I will cable the pnce. With best wishes for a Happy New Year. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson » r. Fra Angelico's Dormition and Assumption of the Virgin, formerly in Lord Methuen's collec-

tion, was purchased by ISG from Colnaghi.


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Jan. 4, 1899

I enclose a photograph of a very dazzling Venetian portrait. It has for centuries passed as being Gattamelata, the famous condottiere whose statue by Donatello you know at Padua. For as many centuries it has passed as Giorgione's. It certainly is not by Giorgione, but by his brilliant follower Domenico Caprioli of Treviso. 1 Some forty years ago Sir Chas. Eastlake then director of the National Gallery, offered £2,000 for it, but the family would not sell. Now it is for sale, and I can get it for you for £1,000 (one thousand pounds). It seems to me dire cheap, and worth your buying , for it is gorgeous in colour, and in every way a highly characteristic, romantic piece of Giorgionesque work. The landscape is peculiarly charming. The frame is contemporary and fine. If you decide to take it, please cable Berenson, Fiesole, YECAPRlOLI. This is a very rare master, yet oddly enough there already is one work by him in America, altho' later and more ordinary. It is a portrait of Cardinal Grimani belonging to Prof. Norton. 2 I have no news. For a fortnight I have been working sixteen hours a day and scarcely seeing a soul, but I am never so comfortable as when at work. I hope you are well, gay, and happy. Ever yours B.B. Domenico Caprioli's portrait Cattamelata is not in BB 's 1957 lists. »2. Charles Eliot Norton's portrait Cardinal Crimani was listed in 1957 by BB as owned by Elizabeth Norton. » r.

Dear Friend,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Jan. l l, l 899

No word from you yet, and I am anxious. I do so hope I shall hear from you soon. I have no news. We are having no winter at all. Today it happens to be wet, but most of the time it is very lovely, and so fragrant that you could swear the air was laden with incense. I am writing busily, still my interminable drawing book, a·n d reading beautiful things. I have just finished Aeschylus's Agamemnon the Greek of which is all too difficult for me. Yet I have caught a vision of sublime grandeur that I never have met with before in dramatic literature. I received some days ago £700 from you. I still am busy over the Angelico. I have better hopes of getting it, and perhaps for as little as £4, ooowhich would be a very great bargain. Do write, dear Friend, and believe me Yours ever devotedly B.B. 1

165


3 Via Camerata, Florence

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Jan. 22,

l

899

Sano disperato! I can not possibly get photographs of the Holbeins I cabled about. You must know that no master, scarcely Raphael excepted, is harder to get, more in demand, and fetches relatively higher prices than Holbein. After this pain there are so many suitors in London, on the spot, that the present owners see no reason whatever for having photographs done. So what shall I do? To let them go-I can not. Holbeins of any kind are hard enough to get, as you might recall, considering our efforts to capture Yarborough's Edward VI, Huth's More, and Schonborn's Portrait. As good as unheard of are a pair of pendants, the husband, and the wife, and historical personages at that. Of course, it is the most fascinating thing possible to see how a great portraitist, such as Holbein was, will treat and interpret the character through the faces of people who for a life time have been living together. The interest is of the highest, and Holbein has acquitted himself of his task as he only could. The people are Sir William Butts, physician to the court of Henry VIII, and his wife, Lady Butts. Happily, I can send you a print by Bartolozzi of the original drawing-by the way few of Holbein's existing portraits have the original drawings still existing-at Windsor. This will give you some idea of the serious and noble character of the person. Sir William is even finer, very sensitive, a beautiful old man, as refined as if Lotto had painted him. Now let me give you some particulars. The quality of the painting is almost as jewel-like as Van Eyck's. The man is 59 years old, wears a dark hat, dark fur, and a gold chain. She is 57, wears the head-dress of the time, a fur-bordered cloak, with lace about the neck, and a red flower on her breast. The backgrounds are dark green. The modelling is superb, the colouring gorgeous. The size of each panel is 18 X l4V2 inches. I have every hope of getting the pair for no more than ÂŁ20,000-perhaps for a little less. Now, dear Mrs. Gardner, let me appeal to you to rely on me just a little. If from the drawing the woman's face does not seem either unsympathetic or lacking in distinction, trust me, still less would you be dissatisfied with the man's. You have a chance-one that can scarcely ever come again-to possess yourself of two Holbeins as fine as any, of an authenticity beyond all possible question, of great historical interest, and you would thus have what not even one of the galleries of Europe can boast of, a pair of pendants by Holbein. So try to take my word regarding the man, screw up your courage to the high enterprise, cable YELBEINS. 1 Yours ever Bernhard Berenson Âť r. ISG purchased Sir William Butts and Lady Butts, pendant portraits, through Colnaghi in

June 1899.

166


I 52

Dear friend

Beacon Street Jan. 22 [I899]

I have not written for some time, although I have had letters and telegrams from you. I have been in too much mental confusion to really be able to answer letters of a business character. And will you now recapitulate a little and tell me first what I have paid you for, and then what I owe you-I also do not know quite what pictures are mine, and what not mine. Did you buy for me the portrait of Mic;:helangelo. Apropos of the later ones you have written and wired about, which do you think it is best to make an effort to get-the Fra Angelico or the Holbeins-or one of them-and if one of them which is the better of the two. I have as yet seen no photographs. I read the other day, in the Chronique des Arts (which is a supplement to the Gazette des Beaux-Arts) that a very good Sperandio was on sale at a dealer's in Florence. 1 It is a Terre cuite of Madonna and child. In a leisure moment (if you have one) please look it up, and if it is a good and not dear thing get it for me-I have a foible on terre cuite. But it must cost little: All these days I have been and still am being worried with business. Yours Isabella Many more thanks than I can express for your affectionate and tender note of sympathy. This Madonna and Child is not by Sperandio but by the more important Florentine sculptor Benedetto da Maiano. ÂťI.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Feb. 8, I 899

I enclose a very poor photograph of the Sperandio terracotta. It really is nice. Bardini's lowest price for it is 6, ooo lire. So if you do want it, please send a cheque for ÂŁ240, which will cover everything, and shipping order. Pray let me know whether I am to send Sebastiano del Piombo 's portrait of Michelangelo to Paris or to Boston. Yours ever B.B.

I 52

Dear Berenson

Beacon Street Feb. II [I899]

I am asked by my business people to ask you if the enclosed bill is right? If so please return it, and I will have it paid. I have just received the engraving or whatever it is of the old woman's head. A forbidding and ugly personbut very fine, and I should like to own her and her husband. In fact I am sure you are right about those two Holbeins. But the price! Alas, alas. What is the lowest, do you think? I wrote to you, what seems to me some little


time ago, putting the case to you, and asking what I owed you, and what I had better buy, if possible to buy anything. I have to go through an enormous amount of red tape now, besides the usual money difficulty. So I can't say Yes or No, to anything. Yours Isabella

Dear Berenson

Feb.

22, l

899

The blizzard has passed, and now our houses are like islands in a sea of melted snow, well mixed with dirt. And that is the reason that I have at this moment a cold in my head, my body, everywhere in fact-that makes me sure I like you very much or I should throw the inkstand at you instead of a letter! I got yesterday your little note with the photo of Sperandio. It is quite lovely indeed. I sent for my business man this morning. We almost came to blows-for apparently, no red tape can be cut yet. All sorts of legal questions and demands have to be settled, and that means time. Still he says that before very long it will be possible, with great detriment, to my future, to raise ÂŁ24, ooo. That is what you say the two Holbeins and the Fra Angelico will come to together. So if that is the very lowest you can squeeze them to, and you can hold onto them until I can get ÂŁ24,000 out of the estate I should like to own those three. But do consider what a tremendous price that is-and do crush them down-my future depends on it. Par parenthese, always send everything to Paris unless I give other orders. I am trying to raise the Sperandio and other money that I owe you. I find I must post this immediately. What has happened between you and the Fairchilds and have you quarrelled with Placci? Or is everything a lie as usual. 1 So poor deluded Duse has succumbed to that beast D' Annunzio. Hastily yours, as always Isabella Âť I.

Eleonora Duse (18 59-1924), Italian actress.

Dear Friend,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Feb 23, 1899

I must scold you. I wrote you nearly five weeks ago about the Holbeins, and but for my cabling you I should still be in the dark regarding your intentions about them. I will not attempt to go in to a statement of all the time, trouble, and unspeakable worry I have to give to an affair of this sort while your decision is waiting. But there is as far as your own interests go a more serious side to this. A fortnight ago the pictures while in the market were just known to dealers only, and they are relatively easy to manage. But a few days ago the Paris Rothschild entered into the affair, and that complicates matters most unhappily. I have the best hopes of still pulling 168


through, but R. may either run up the price or outbid m e altogether. All this would have been avoided had you cabled a week ago. As it is, you may rely on me doing all I can. My scolding done, let me congratulate you on your decision. As soon as the Holbeins are in my hands I will have photographs done and sent to you. I shall cable as soon as the matter is settled, and if I say simply YELBEIN, CHEAVE, that will mean that all is well, that the Holbeins are £20,000, and that I beg you to send the cheque for that sum, and £4, ooo for the Angelico , and shipping orders for both. Has the Masaccio arrived? Do tell me how you like it. I have been reading with horror of the weather you have been having in America. Here we have been living as in the islands of the blessed, in balmy delicious air, under waves of soft sunlight, all the green about us springing and glowing, all the spring flowers exhaling their delicious perfumes. I feel languid with the work of the last four months, and full of spring-longings, vague, aimless, and somehow sweet. I wonder how you are, and what you are planning to do, and in which of thousands of ways, you are spending your hours. You are mistress of life as no human being I know of has been in these recent generations. Long may you remain at our head! I am going to Rome for next week, partly for work, and in part for a change. It will be a pleasure to see again all the crumbling ruins, perhaps returning to Hadrian's Villa, in this golden moment, and enjoying one or two great works of art like the Apollo of the Terme. I must return to pictures, and tell you how happy I am that you have got that Fra Angelico. It is a darling. Yours devotedly B.B.

r 52 Beacon Street

Dear Berenson

March 8 [1899]

This moment comes yours of the scolding! I cabled the £24, ooo plus the 5 °/o to you care Barings. So I hope that is all well. But please take pen and inkadd and tell me the exact state of money between you and me. If I owe and exactly what-or vice versa. No Masaccio of any kind has ever appeared. And even when it does arrive I shall not see it for you know I can't pay the duty, so it must stay in bond. If everything goes very well, I want to sail July 4th for Southampton. Have a few days in London and Paris, and then, a month or two in Venice. My present existence is amusing. It is one of deadly economy! I move to Brookline some time in April. Are you coming over? Yours Isabella-


3 Via Camerata, Florence

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

March 12,

l

899

I am just better of a cold so bad that it has quite prostrated me, and I have not been able to write even as much [as] an acknowledgment for the £25,200 which you sent me. I am all aflame with the eagerness to have you buy yet another masterpiece. Seldom has anything taken such complete possession of my fancy, and few things have my more reasoned approval. This time it is a bas-relief in marble by Mino da Fiesole-not a relatively common-place Madonna, but that singular rarity in Florentine sculpture, a portrait in relief. The photograph I enclose will give you some idea of the style, the splendour, the superb character of the lady represented. She was an Antinori-one of the greatest families in Florence-and a queen in her day if ever there was one. You of all people will appreciate the mere person. As workmanship, Mino here quite surpasses himself. You have the strength of bronze and the delicacy of ivory combined. In a word I have never seen the Renaissance marble which I rather would own. The price is about a thousand pounds (£1,000) scarcely more or less. There is no time to lose for Bode is in the lists, and he is a dangerous rival. So if you want the Lady-and on your head be it, if you do not-cable YEMlN0. 1 Do you remember when I wrote last autumn to recommend you the Masaccio, I warned you to pay no attention if Costantini wrote urging you to buy an infant Christ by Desiderio? This was a soft, mushy copy after the original whi.c h is still here at S. Lorenzo. How anyone could be taken in by such a flimsy copy, when the original was so well known, I can not possibly understand. Nevertheless the Louvre has just bought it, and paid £2,ooo, 2 TWO THOUSAND POUNDS for it!!! Who [in] the world has been telling you that I have quarrelled with Placci? I'd as soon quarrel with myself, and if I did I should be as soon as reconciled. We never have been better friends-and that is saying much. As for the Fairchilds I have done nothing to them except many favours. I like Blair as much as ever. Unfortunately I did not take to his people. 3 Mrs. Fairchild is probably a charming person, but as she always tries to talk culture to me, wherein I find her both dull and provincial, she bores me. Miss Fairchild left me very indifferent, and I understand that she has paid me the compliment of returning my indifference with outright hatred. Of course I am flattered. Week before last I spent a few days in Rome, chiefly in the society of that new Circe, the Grazioli. But for you-but how you surpass her!-she would be the most fascinating woman in my world. Yours ever devotedly B.B. P. S. I enclose an unpaid bill. ISG bought Relief Portrait of a Woman by Mino da Fiesole from the Florentine dealer Volpi. »2. Not now A copy now hangs in the Palazzo Antinori on the via Serraglio, Florence. »I.


listed under Desiderio's name. »3. Mrs. Fairchild was an acquaintance of ISG's in Boston; besides her son, Blair, she had a daughter, Satie.

Dear Berenson

March 23 [ l 899]

A very hurried word to say that your letter of March 12 has just come, and no "unpaid bill" in it! I do love the Mino-dear thing-but can I? I will go on a pilgrimage to try and make the Trustees let me have the money. Costantini never said a word to me about the Desiderio replica. Bode may be after the Mino-but the prices he gives are Small. I heard that Placci adored the Fairchilds, and they and he were against you. Hence my words! I am so glad it isn't true. Yours hastily, Isabella! am glad you are well again. Who is your new limp woman I hear about!

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence March 25, l 899

Your letter brings me delightful news. I shall be in London all July, so I shall see you there, and in Sept. if you want me, I shall come to Venice to be near you for a week or ten days. I need not say I look forward to seeing you again. On my side I have news that you will welcome. It is a fearfully long story, but I will put it into a nutshell. When I cabled to you about a month ago that the Holbeins were yours for £20,000, it was on the receipt of a message to that effect from my agent. I went off to Rome most happy. Two days later I received a wire which made my heart sick. It was followed by the explanation that all along the owner of the Holbeins had misrepresented the situation, that the pictures were entailed, and that he therefore had no power to sell. Imagine my state of mind! Of course I was not going to let go my hold. I did all that I and my agent could do, and happily at last all is well-and more than well. I insisted that on my part the intention to purchase had been bona fide, and that the owner must have them disentailed. Now disentail is in the hands of chancery, and is done only when they are convinced that the sale is bona fide. It is then done either by sealed tender, or by an estimate of official-that is to say duncy experts. My efforts were directed to bring the sale about in the second way. Should that be impossible, I gave instructions to offer by sealed tender 21 ,ooo pounds.* Had I failed to get the pictures at that price, I should have had to tell you, and receive your curses; but if I had got them for that price, I should have sacrificed my thousand pounds, and never let you know. Happily my agents worked so cleverly, throwing dust in the eyes of all other possible buyers, that it never came to rival tenders, and instead, the pictures have been disentailed in chancery on the estimate of their expert. The result is that you get them for £17,000 instead of for £20,000.


In my last letter I said nothing of all this, for I was not yet out of the woods. In fact I even delayed writing that letter as long as I could in the hope of decisive news. That has only just come, and I hope it will make you happy. I hope you will show your happiness in the first place by getting the Mino upon which I have set my heart. Then I wish you to acquire for a mere song, "a rare and radiant" masterpiece by one of the rarest and greatest masters. You bought at Bardini's you remember a little Madonna by Lippo Memmi for which you paid £400. I now wish you to buy a gorgeous polyptych by Lippo's far greater master, Simone Martini. If you have my Central Italian Painters please read what I have said about him. The polyptych is in five parts, a Madonna and Saints, on gold ground of course, about half the size of life. It is mentioned in all the books, and had for many years been exhibited in the Museum at Orvieto-indeed supposed to belong to it. But it is private property, is for sale, and I can get it for. about £500 or a little more. This really is the absurdest bargain. 1 Please cable at once YESIMONE, if you want it. But really at once please, or on your own head be its loss. Aside from the bill for insurance which I sent in my last you owe me 3 5 pounds for the Piombo. I, on my side owe you £3, l 50, as I of course take commission on 17,000, and not on 20,000, therefore 850, and not l,ooo. So you pay me 17,000 plus 850, that is to say 17,850. On the other hand for the Holbeins you sent me 21,000. Deducting from this sum 17,850 leaves 3, l 50. Deducting from this 3 5 for the Piombo leaves me owing you 3, l l 5 pounds. Shall I send this back to you at once? I hope you first will let me deduct from it the l,ooo for the Mino, and the 500 or so for the Simone. We are having a sort of belated winter. This morning it had the impudence to attempt to snow. But it is beautiful nevertheless. Yours ever B.B. *in which case it is the highest offer which gets it Simone Martini's polyptych, The Madonna and Child with Four Saints, his only complete altarpiece outside Italy, was one of the greatest bargains of the collection. ISG purchased the work from the Mazzocchi Collection, Orvieto. »I.

Dear Friend,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Easter 1899

Although in a way our entire winter has been one perpetual spring, yet Easter coincides this year with the Resurrection of all that is freshest, and most fragrant in nature. The earth is basking in soft warmth under the opalescent veils of insubstantial mist, and the fields smell as only the lawns 172


of Heaven could surpass. Here in Italy at least, spring is far, far more an affair of smell than of sight. I hope this morning is not less enchanting where you are spending itin Brookline I like to think, in that fairy garden which I saw many years ago. It must be so much more beautiful now. I am delighted that you are having that Mino. The profile is not less attractive to me because it figures the type of woman to which you yourself belong. I have not yet heard from the owner, but I scarcely doubt that it will be yours. Yours ever devotedly B.B.

Dear Friend,

3 Via Camerata, Florence May day 1899

We have had a fretful and showery April, so that our May day is probably much more like yours than such as we usually have it here. It is sweet today, a strong fresh breeze blowing, the skies pearly, the nightingales singing their sweetest, and from the garden, and the whole country side the most delicious pungent and spicy odours. The wisterias and banchsias [Banksia rose?] this year have been of visionary beauty, and now we have come to the king of my favourite, the damask rose. The room where I am writing, my green room, is full of purple iris, just the colour, and orchids, which I love for their form. But how meager all this must sound to you, now embowered in your garden under all the growths of Paradise! But I am so affected by a little that I wonder what would become of me in the midst of all your wealth. Alas that spring should be the season when I am least well! I am too languid for work, and when I am doing little or nothing I can \enjoy but as a thief, as if by stealth. I am supposed now to be writing about Leonardo. Thus far I have been studying him, chiefly his writings. They are a revelation of a mind so vast, so varied , so masterful that I feel as if trying to keep pace with the stars in their endless courses . The singular thing is that on top of everything else Leonardo had the greatest literary gifts. His words are chiselled , and when at his b est, his phrase is polished as you will never again find it in an Italian, unless you except D' A n nunzio w ho obviously copies him. Then h e h as such exquisite perceptions, and su ch m o r al d epth. There was a man! Your Simones are here and of dazzling beauty. B ut even the j ourney from Orvieto here has shaken them enough to convince me that b efore going further they m u st be put in order. That I shall do, taking of course every precaution that nothing is done except what is absolutely necessary for their safety. The expense will be small. Davis has gone, taking with him a Madonna by Mino da Fiesole for 173


which he had to pay over ÂŁ2,000. 1 I did not recommend it to you, because I had just got you a far finer Mino for less than half the money. Why am I not hearing from you? It must be a month at least since I received your last letter. Yours ever B. B. Âť r. Theodore Davis's Madonna is now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. May 17 [1899]

The season here has been five weeks behind hand! And then, presto, May rst was mid-summer, with everything to be done, and no time to do it in. So I have been torn in a thousand directions, trying to have the necessary, the useful and the ornamental all done at once. So, I get your letters and read them with joy, between bird and bush, horse and dog, but find time to answer-no-absolutely never! And I can send only most unsatisfactory little words flying across the sea. When we meet, if we do meet, I must try and say it all. En attendant, if you have any moneys of mine, please have them deposited to my account with Baring Bros. I shall sail (DV of the biggest kind) July 4th . And shall be in London July 12th. I am so glad you are having the Simones put in condition. Then send them to Robert Paris. I have made a water garden, and a turtle has heard of it and climbed the hill and plunged in, and now lives there a monastic life. Have the Duse and D' Annunzio broken? Poor Duse! I wish someone would kick D'Annunzio for me! So Blair has given up music. A butterfly to be broken on a wheel. Yours Isabella-

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

5, Via Camerata San Domenico di Fiesole Florence May 23, 1899

I have just received your cable "Chigi Botticelli Madonna to be sold Wednesday in Rome. Is it worth $30,000." I have answered "No," and now I write to explain. It is a rather long story. The Chigi Madonna is a picture in not very good condition, and a very early work by Botticelli, which I have always adored. 1 After Morelli's death I was for years the only critic who sustained that Chigi's Botticelli was genuine. I talked and talked about it-with what effect now appears. Of course I had no idea that Chigi who is very well off, and has but one 174


son, would ever sell. The first intimation I had of such a possibility came to me two years ago when Davis returning from Rome assured me that he had as good as bought it, that only some mere formalities had to be gone through before it was delivered to him. When he told me that he was going to pay £3,000 only I assured him that he had been taken in, and that somebody had offered him the picture who had no right to. I was more than right. Since then until this moment I have never lost the picture out of view. I have had my agents always on the guard. Last summer one of them scarcely left the Chigi Palace out of his eye for months. I then hoped to get the picture for about six or seven thousand pounds. Seven thousand was the last penny I ever intended it to cost you. You will ask then why I have cabled "No" to an offer made to you of £6,ooo ($30,000). I have two reasons. One is that even if Chigi sold his picture for £6,ooo, it would cost more than £7,000 by the time it was out of Rome. But my second and better reason is that it is absolutely impossible to get it at that price. Early last month Agnew's already offered £7,000, and some days later raised the offer to £8,ooo. My agents thereupon wired to me that if I really wanted the picture the only hope was to offer still more. I enclose a wire dated April 20, to that effect. I refused, and stepped out of the concern. Now I think Chigi had up to that moment had no idea of selling, not realizing what prices would be offered. But seeing what was offering and how many bidders there were, he had the marvellous idea of sending out a circular to the 24 principal dealers in Europe telling them that on May 24, he would sell his picture to the highest bidder among them. But even that has come to nothing. Last Sunday (two days ago) he decided to give up the idea of the private auction. I will not swear to the precise reason for this. I strongly suspect however that a certain dealer has offered him a price satisfying his wildest dreams. The picture will now sell for no less than £15,000. There are two morals to be drawn from this tale. One is that it is easy for people who really are not in it to make sanguine offers of pictures at low prices. The other is that people simply are losing their heads over Italian pictures. Think of it, last year, a poor though old copy of Botticelli's Magnificat was bought by Wernher for £10,000. 2 Of course he was made to believe that what he bought was not a copy but "a replica." And this is but one instance out of many. Genuine Italian pictures are getting so despairingly rare that those who want them will now pay anything for them. But do not you despair. I still hope to get you a number of things at rational prices-and sometimes at irrational, as for instance the Simone. That I have just got you for £500, and are worth at the very least £5,000. I was glad to receive your cable. It is the only sign of life I have had from you for some time. I hope you have been well, and I am sure you have been as always interested in a thousand things one more fascinating than the other. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson 175


Remember I paid only £3 ,ooo for your cassone worth several of Chigi's Botticelli. That will give you an idea of how prices have risen. 3 » l . The condition of the Chigi Botticelli is better than average, with much of the color intact.

BB was wrong about condition (not surprising at that time) in several of his estimates to ISG. »2. Sir Julius Charles Wernher (1850-1912), British financier. »3 . The Tragedy of Lucretia (for which see BB to ISG, l August l 894) is not more valuable than the Chigi Botticelli.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. May 23 [1899]

When you get to London, and I don't even imagine how soon that may be, please look up this picture. Also do you know of a Perugino, in some collection in Rome that seems very important and beautiful. I judge only from the photograph which I saw this morning. It is spoken of as probably soon to be sold. It is seemingly a triptych-and in several compartments. A slight frame seems to divide the different sections. Altogether very delightful looking. 1 I am just going out for a drive; my little bay pair are waiting at the door. I have been giving chickweed to the mocking bird, and trolled about with the fox terriers and am now starting on a hunt for a new variety of lilacs. Yours IsabellaPerugino, The Nativity with Saints Michael, John the Baptist, Jerome, and George, at the Villa Albani, Rome, where it remains. » l.

3 Via Camerata, Florence

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

May 25, 1899

I enclose a poor and truly libellous photograph of a charming Madonna by Francia. 1 It is delicious in colour, most unusually fine, and has a very exquisite landscape. It is a far finer work than the one which you once thought of buying from Sciarra. Costantini who owns it will take 20,000 lire and no less. As prices now go it is very fair. I think you would do well to take it. If you want it, please cable YEFRANCIA. Costantini tells me Joe Smith passed thro' here a few days ago. It was horrid of him not to come to see me. We are in the midst of a gorgeous storm. Yours ever B.B. » r.

ISG bought the Francia Madonna.


annunciation angel

Saints

Dear Berenson

Crucifixion

annunciation Madonna

Madonna child and saints

Saints

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. May 31 [1899]

Tell me exactly what you paid for the Holbeins. I have a most singular letter from the former owners. I am afraid something is wrong in the transaction. I never liked the Colnaghis, and do you remember I said, at the time of their delay in sending the Crivelli to Paris , that I absolutely did not want to have anything to do with them again. I have been very sorry to see that you have still employed them, but now I am sure the end has come. Before going to the bottom of the Holbein matter myself, I want you to tell me exactly all you know. It looks as if it might be a question of the Law Courts. This I hope to avert. Let me hear at once. Yours Isabella

177


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence June l, 1899

J\t last I have heard from you, and a most charming account it is, of just the life I have imagined you were living these days. What a delightful picture you give of the water garden, and its discoverer the turtle! Well, I am not so great a discoverer as your turtle, yet something in my own way. A day or two ago I came to know of a picture of exceeding charm and singular interest. I enclose a photograph on the back of which you will find indication of the size. It is about one third size of life, on panel in an old frame. The picture as you see is the portrait of a bewitchingly pretty, golden haired young knight of l\1alta. He kneels in his sparkling armour with his mantle, purple without and emerald within, tossed to one side. He is in the open air. It is a picture with all the charming sentiment of a Giorgione, and yet of Perugino too. Its painter was one of the rarest Sienese masters Benvenuto di Giovanni. 1 So much for this charming panel as a work of art. Now as to its historical interest. No later than l 504 Pinturicchio was decorating with frescoes the baptismal chapel in the cathedral of Siena. He was too busy to do all the painting himself, and left most of it to Peruzzi, but the donor seems to have insisted that the two portraits of himself should be painted with Pinturicchio's own hand-for they certainly were. I say two portraits, for this donor whose name by the way was Alberto Aringhieri, had the amusing fancy to have himself portrayed as he looked then, and once again as he looked when a young man. I had always supposed that this second version was a mere fancy sketch. I enclose a photograph of this also, and if you will compare it with the one of the picture I am recommending, you will see that Pintoricchio was not making a fancy sketch but on the contrary copying most faithfully the portrait made twenty or thirty years before by B. di Giovanni. To judge by the style of the painting the panel could have been done no later than 1480. The result is that this panel has an immense historical interest. To begin with we know who is the person portrayed, sufficiently rare; then rarer by far, indeed unique, it is the original by one great master from which an even more famous master made his copy. Perhaps when you compare the two you will agree with me that Benvenuto di Giovanni was far the finer painter. Happily this is not yet universal opinion, as it will be before long; happily also no one has yet discovered the connection between this picture, and Pintoricchio's fresco. For in consequence I can get you this charming thing for a relatively small price-nine hundred pounds (ÂŁ900). Unless I much misread your taste and your interests, you will not need much urging. But all the more reason that you should not delay. So, if you will have it, please cable Berenson, Hotel Roma, Venice, YEKNIGHT.


As you see I am going to Venice in a few days, as a lazy restful place, to repose after the heavy work of the past eight months, and to refresh myself with Venetian painting. It will make me but more eager to return there to spend some days with you in September. I still owe you ÂŁ1,600. So if even you take the Francia and this it will all be nearly included, along with the Mino and the Simones in the sum originally intended for the Holbeins. Blair Fairchild would not give up a thing of great price if he gave up his music, but he has not. Only as the poet says, in the spring time a young man's fancies lightly turn to thoughts of love-particularly lightly when turned for him by a fascinating youngish-I say not young-witch. But more of this when we meet. Yours ever B.B. Address letters Baring Bros. London Âť r. Alberto Aringhieri, Knight of Malta was actually owned by BB at the time. He later discov-

ered it to be a forgery (see BB to ISG,

Dear Berenson

2

August 1899).

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. June 8 [ l 899]

What does become of my letters to you. Another from you has just come telling me about the Chigi Botticelli, and saying that you get no letters. I have written to S. Domenico because you told me that was to be your abiding place!-forsooth. As to the Botticelli, please may I have it? I feel as if you ought to get it for me very cheap, having told me it was not worth 30. I was assured it was mine at that price. The grape vine that has this house in its embrace is in flower. Do you know the odour, pervading, inebriating! It comes in at my window. Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs . Gardner,

Hotel Roma, Venice June l l, 1899

Very different this from the luxurious quarters at Palazzo Barbaro, yet after all I am in Venice, and that is enough! It feels as if it must be insupportably hot elsewhere. Here it is pleasant with a breeze on the water always, and the soothing lap of the tide. But why am I describing to you how it feels in Venice. Let me turn to business. Yes, I know very well indeed the Perugino about which you ask me. It is at the Villa Albani, belongs to Prince Torlonia. I need not say I have longed to add it to your collection. Latterly I have been drawing my nets 179


closer and about it-with what success remains to be seen. Meanwhile let me assure you that all in all it is the finest Perugino in existence. The drawing is most exquisite, with a refinement of line that Perugino never again approached. The colour is golden and soft. But let me quote what I have said about it in my Central Italian Painters p. r ro: "How cool in its warmth is the effect of the Albani Polyptych, with its space continuous through the various panels, felt through beautiful arches, stretching to enchanted distances, evoking freshness and fragrance, bringing back to you those rare moments when new to life in the early hour of a summer morning, for an instant you tasted of Paradise." If you happen to have the little book by you please read this passage in connection with what goes before, and what follows. You will realize better than from this short quotation how much this Albani picture means to me. But if Torlonia will sell at all it will be under the impression that Italian pictures are now fetching huge prices, and that the chance had better not be lost. People really have lost their heads about Italian art. Bardini's Collection of odds and ends at Christie's brought ÂŁ40,000 this last week. As for the Chigi Botticelli the last certain news was that the German Emperor and an English syndicate had run it up to ÂŁ12,000. This almost tempts one to join the race, for the pure fun of it. The portrait of James VI was sold soon after it had its puff in Truth. It was of no great importance. I shall stay here till the 22d, then journey slowly to London which I shall reach July 3d. In every probability I shall put up as usual at Garland's, Suffolk St. Pall Mall. Please try to carve out some time to see me in London. I know how much you are occupied. Yours ever B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Venice, June 12, r 899

This morning I received the enclosed and answered begging them to try to reserve the picture for me. I have done so, not because I mean in the least to commit you to buy this picture, but partly to prove what I take some pride in, my control of the market, and in part because I wish you to have a chance to follow your own desire in the matter. You will scarcely get the picture for under ÂŁr 5,000-a monstrous sum. Yes, in itself monstrous, but Italian pictures have risen at least to five times their value in the last four years.* It is the last universally accepted Botticelli in the market. Among his Madonnas it is one of his noblest and grandest. If you don't take it, the Paris Rothschilds almost certainly will. So if you can spare the money you after all would not be paying more than the market value of the picture at present, possessing yourself of a truly great masterpiece, and snatching out of the teeth of worthy rivals. I have stated the case, and now do you decide. If you decide that r8o


you really would consider the matter, cable Berenson, Barings, London YEBOTTICELLI. This would not comn1it you to buy it. I should in that case, make every effort to reserve it for you until you came to London when you could see it, and decide after inspection. Of course I could not guarantee its being kept. It has been reproduced in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts within the last three years in an article by Muntz, so if you know the picture either from this or from a photograph, and decide that you certainly want it cable instead of Yebotticelli BUYCELLI. I should add that I should not go over £15,000. Now I leave the matter in your hands. Tonight is the eve of S. Antonio. Don't you wish you were here? Ever yours B.B. *The George and Dragon ascribed to Uccello at Bardini's which I would not let you buy for £200 was sold at Christie's last week for £1,420!!1 Heavily restored, Saint George and the Dragon by Uccello was then at Bardini, Florence. It was purchased by Mme. Edouard Andre in r 899 and is now in the Musee Jacquemart-Andre, Paris. »I.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. June 27 [1899]

I am sorry you wrote! Every word you said only confirmed my opinion of Colnaghi. He is bound to pay over the extra thousand pounds. And I am bound to tell them that he received it. No explanation is an explanation of such a thing. I would have liked better not to have known it could have happened. If they could not "take the trouble" to sell two pictures for the price they acknowledged, they should not have undertaken it at all. Agnew seems an innocent babe compared to them. If they make, have made, and do continue to make $ 5, ooo on every sale, "the worst of his kind" is not in it with them! Yours Isabella G.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Hotel Caspar Badrutt, St. Moritz Dorf. Engadine July 13, 1899

Thirteen is an unlucky number, and it has brought me your Jetter of the 1 l l th, which distresses me more than a little. The price for the Titian is colossal, but that I need scarcely discuss, for while it is colossal, it yet is considerably below what the picture can and will fetch. It is also true that personally, and even as a critic I really prefer the Europa. But other considerations enter. I am ambitious for you to make a gallery which in quality and renown will be absolutely unrivalled. Now there exists no work of art 181


whatever which is more renowned than the Amor Sacra. 2 And on the whole the renown is justified, for while it is a work of potent fascination for the few it at the same time appeals to the million. Its possession will be a title of glory in one's life time, and of immortality thereafter. Well, I for my part at least have a certain taste for glory and immortality. If I sell this picture to another I am determined to make more out of it than the 5 °/o I should get from you. But I should have transacted a matter of mere business-and under the circumstances, not altogether to my taste. On the other hand, if possibly it could go to you, I should feel that it was the key-stone to an arch to the building of which I had all along devoted my best energies. And that is why I am writing to you again-without consideration of my financial interests-to beg you to reconsider the matter. And if you see any chance at all of acquiring the picture to let me know. I would gladly wait and run the risk of losing the profits. Do believe me-I have a certain right to claim it of you-that my own profit is in this case my least concern.* I am very sorry to have mentioned it. I did it not to urge you to think of me, but, as I hoped, to give you an extra stimulus for exerting yourself to the utmost. So, I do beg of you to think of it no more. Of course if quite genuinely you see not a chance, then I shall do what I can to get the picture over to America-but only in that case. If moneymaking were anything like a primary interest to me now, if I cared to exert myself, and to really devote my mind to it, I could make it in plenty. But my interests are elsewhere, one of the chiefest being your collection, because 1t 1s yours. Yours ever B. B. Another time about other things. *If 5 °/o should seem to you too much on such a big transaction, I should be quite happy to take less from you. Presumably BB and ISG met in London. Her letter of I I July is lost. and Profane Love, Borghese Gallery, Rome. The painting is still there. »I.

» 2.

Titian's Sacred

[Paris] Friday [21 July 1899] Then, alas, it must be given up! for, dear Berenson, the person I wanted to see is in Europe, and I can't get at him. You said "September," and this is not yet August. We leave here next Tuesday and get to Venice Saturday the 29th. Hastily yours Isabella

Dear Friend,

Swiss Cottage, Weybridge Sunday July 23, 1899

I have just received your letter, and ere this you surely have received mine. This will have told you that while I must have your decision almost at once 182


the payment will scarcely have to be made before the end, certainly not before the beginning of September. Now, please, do do your utmost. I am firmly persuaded that when you have the will you will find the way. I long for you to have the joy that this wonderful picture will bring you, and the glory and immortal gratitude America will owe the person who brings such a masterpiece over there. If you have fair hope of being able to purchase the picture, and if you telegraphed me to that effect, I shall make every effort to get another fortnight's delay, and I may succeed. I am staying with Cook who wishes to be remembered to you. 1 Please address "Garlant's Suffolk St. Pall Mall, London S. W"-or if you wire, "Berenson, Delicious, London." Devotedly yours, B.B. Sir Herbert Frederick Cook (1868-1930), English art collector, one of the founders of Burlington Magazine, and BB's occasional traveling companion. ÂťI.

Dear Berenson

[Paris] July 24 [1899] Monday afternoon

Off tomorrow A. M. and will not get to an abiding place until next Saturday. Then it will be Palazzo Barbaro, Canal Grande, Venezia. I have just got your letter. There is no possibility whatever of my getting the picture, unless through the assistance of the man I spoke of. I have written and wired, but can get no answer whatever. Therefore as he is my only possible chance, I must say "No." George Gardner might be willing to help me, but he could only be persuaded by word of mouth, and he does not arrive in Venice until September lst. 1 So, as you see, with the best will I can do nothing, as such great despatch is necessary. Peccato. Lovingly yours Isabella S. Gardner George Peabody Gardner (1855-1939) was John L. Gardner's nephew and one of three executors of Mr. Gardner's estate. ÂťI.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Cafe Riche Buttenhof La Haye July 30, 1899

I was almost in despair over your last letter, and determined to do everything in my power to give you a chance. So I spent the whole of the last week, night as well as day, talking and arranging, and at last yesterday I succeeded in getting a formal promise that I shall have control of the Sacred


and Profane Love until September ro. That will, I hope give you ample time to try every means in your power, and I do wish you success. I am too tired after a night's journey to write much else. You are now in that cool, delicious palace with all Venice glowing at your feet. I envy you. The only bit of picture gossip that may amuse you is that Agnevv has sold his "Raphael" to a South African nabob for ÂŁ7,000. What a confession of failure! Cook saw Agnew the other day and found him furious against me. "Everybody" he said "held it for Raphael except Berenson. I don't care a fig for what he says. Besides, I know why he says it. It is because he tried to buy the portrait himself, and failed." I am on the way to S. Moritz, whither I shall get, toward the end of the week. Please address me there, Hotel Caspar Badrutt. Yours ever, B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Amsterdam, Aug.

2, I

899

I have just received your notes asking what has become of the Knight. Well, you must know that between writing to you about a picture and acquiring it for you, I devote myself as much as possible to making sure that it is quite as good as I have thought it. I fear you will think me a fool for my pains, but the coincidence of this Knight being the original after which Pintoricchio painted his fresco was so marvellous that the more I thought of it, the more incredible it seemed. Studying the Knight carefully and steadily I grew more and more suspicious. I finally got to the state of mind where I could do nothing more with my mere judgment. I then succeeded in applying certain tests to the picture which convinced me that my suspicions were well founded, that the panel was a FORGERY. 1 Some day when we have leisure for talk I will tell you about the really exquisite things that are being forged nowadays. Meanwhile let me add that this Knight is so beautiful, apparently so "all right" that I question whether any one in the world excepting myself and one or two others would dream of doubting it. Perhaps you will reproach me for exciting you about a picture before I am absolutely convinced that it is all right. But I am sure you will understand. While a picture may remain unsold for many months, it may be snapped up at any minute; so that the only safe course is to write to you at once. And after all, I but seldom, scarcely ever before in point of fact, have had to eat my words. Will you think me less omniscient? I hope you will, but think none the less of me. We are all fallible. My ambition is to avoid making mistakes at your expense. Your note is dated the 30th, and yet you say nothing of the wire I sent the 29th about the Amor sacra e profano. You will however have received my letter about it by now.


I am dead beat with sight-seeing. I care less and less for Dutch pictures, but how picturesque their canals, and refined their old dwellings! Address Hotel Caspar Badrutt, S. Moritz Dorf. Engadine, Svizzere. Yours ever B.B. This forgery led BB to the perpetrators from whom he eventually bought the Gardner Annunciation, a genuine work being used by them as a model (Samuels, p. 252). »I.

Palazzo Barbaro Venezia Aug. 5 [1899]

Dear Berenson

No, your letter about the great Titian never came at all-but the wire did. So I am hoping for the best-but ill luck is pursuing me. The man I thought of as a helper, has been taken ill, and has suddenly sailed for home! Now all my hopes are on George Gardner's arranging something, and my insides 1 feel that he won't! How much will the entire total be in dollars? Miss Little has just got news of her mother's death, and is immediately off for America. All is confusion. I can only write these hurried words. Yours Isabella [On the back of the letter BB computed $818.160 by multiplying 168000.00 x 487.] » r. Lena Little, an amateur singer and close friend of ISG's.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Hotel Caspar Badrutt, St. Moritz Dorf. Engadine Aug. 7, 1899

I wonder what could have become of the letter I wrote you on July 3oth at the Hague, on the very morning after I got away from London, having worked like ever so many "niggers" to achieve my purpose. However there was nothing very important in it, except a bit or two of gossip, as for instance that Agnew sold his "Raphael" to a South African millionaire for £7, ooo-a third of the price he asked you. Now, dear Friend, you must not say that you feel Mr. George Gardner won't help you. I also have very prophetic bones, and they inspire me with cheering hope that the Titian will be yours. So don't disappoint me. Try, try again. The price in dollars tutto compreso will be about 8 r 8, r 60. I want this Titian to go to America, and I want you to take it there. The first of these objects I might accomplish if I lost no time and applied to three or four probable buyers over there. After Sept. ro it will be too late. Then unless you take the picture, it will remain over here, and to boot, my 185


labour will have been to me personally almost profitless. So you see how much depends on you. Carlo Placci begs me to tell you how much he regrets not having seen you in Paris. He hoped to, but Curtis told him you would see no one. I am having much talk with the Pallavicini. She, the Grazioli, and everybody, are full of the Chigi Botticelli. They all are quite certain that the Czar has bought it. It is delightful to be here in this life-giving air. I slept nine hours last night, and that after a long evening of fierce argument on aesthetics, in Italian with Donna Laura Groppalo. I was waked this morning by Murri, the miracle-working Italian physician, who happily was here, and came in to have a look at me. He has prescribed me daily baths, waters, and massage; so that I shall be kept occupied in a most fashionable way. I miss my sister. She was such a nice buffer between me and the world here, all delightful, but not at too close contact. Why are you not here, where I am well and buoyant enough to enjoy you, and to appear at my little best? What sport that would be! I am really sorry Miss Little is leaving you. Whom have you staying? Yours ever B. B.

Palazzo Barbaro Venezia Aug. II [I899]

Dear Berenson

Whatever did become of it, your letter I mean? The ways of the post are past reckoning. I am sorry not to have seen Placci in Paris. That is, if he really cared to see me, which I didn't suspect, as he did not leave a card even, in Paris-and for an Italian, whose social life consists of cards! And the dear old Pallavicini. It would indeed be pleasant at St. Moritz. I should like to be there if it were not that I am so glad to be here. It is perfect now; weather and all. I have just received your letter, which is a little delayed. But my answer shall not be, as I must tell you directly about the Titian. I don't really think there is a single chance of my getting it. Quite franky the price is colossal .1 And unless George Gardner could do a financial miracle it would be impossible. And I am sure he would not if he could, for such a price would seem an insanity to him. [The rest of the letter is missing.] ÂťI.

at

The amount is far greater than the cost of any object in the collection. The Rubens portrait was the most expensive.

ÂŁ21,000

I86


Dear Berenson

Palazzo Barbaro Venezia August 16 [1899]

Your letter only makes me want to, but how can I? Of course I want to anyway, still thinking as I do about my Europa! And if you won't mind if you lose your other American chances, I am willing to wait until George Gardner comes and see what can be done. But if you only knew what all that money means and what sort of person George Gardner is. However I am willing to do my part, if you are willing to be a loser; a very great one in case I can't pull the thing off and a loser of money in any case. I am out of bed and writing very early. A grand old temporale is sweeping things clean. Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Hotel Caspar Badrutt, St. Moritz Dorf. Aug. 19, I 899

Returning at one this morning from a recitation given by Montesquiou, I found your last letter. 1 I understand your position perfectly, yet I am willing to take any risk and make any sacrifice in the hope that you may be able to take the picture. So do your best, and may the gods help you. Try to let me have the final decision by Sept. 7 if possible-and at the very latest by the 10th.

The Princess Pallavicini sends you her best regards. Placci assures n1e that he never would have dreamt of dining a second time at Curtis's, if he had not been assured of meeting you. That is why he left no card on you, and he went .away on the morrow. You asked me about the Pieta-at S. Maria dell' Orto. It is a copy after an original by Savoldo at Vienna. If you want to see a very beautiful Lotto go to the Carmine where also you will see perhaps the finest Cima that there is. Life here is very gay. I keep out of the worldliness as much as possible, but the flesh is weak, and occasionally I yield. The new people I see this time are the Duchesse de Rohan, and her daughter the Princesse Murat, one 2 more natural, and fascinatin g than the other, and altogether charming. I h ave had a glimpse of Clay ton Johns , a thoroughly nice fellow. 3 After rain, it is again nice, and I am just off for a climb . Ever devotedly yours B .B. »I. Com te Ro bert de M ontesquiou- Fezensac (1855- 1921), French litterateur, poet and society fi gure w hose memoirs display his singular personality. »2. M arie, w ife of P rince Lu cien Murat, was the dau ghter of Alain de Roh an-Ch abo t, eleventh due de Rohan , and H erminie, duchesse de Rohan . »3. C layton Johns (1857- 1932), was a Boston composer and pianist and a fri end ofISG's from the l 88os. Sh e h ad helped him in his career.


Dear Berenson-

Palazzo Barbaro Venezia August 25 [1899]

My life is a complicated one in a way; so many different things to think about and do-but very simple in reality, because it is mainly seeing and doing only what is beautiful. I thank the Lord I am not as other men are, who bother about the Dreyfus case 1 , and climb mountains . I am quite content au niveau de la mer. Perhaps if you come here, I may convert you. Do you come and when? Did I write, asking you if the Rohan were the one I know?-a dear, fat he is, lady, who proteccts that unspeakable Montesquiou. What a but she is very dear. Give her my warm remembrances and to yourself. Will that real, charming princess Pallavicini be in Rome as early as October? I may be there for a few days and would like to see her. Salute her for me. Yours Isabella The celebrated case of Alfred Dreyfus (r 859-193 5), who was accused and convicted of high treason but later cleared, involved the government of France, the army, Emile Zola, and the anti-Semitic press. BB argued with Placci over the matter. ÂťI.

Dear Berenson

Palazzo Barbaro Venezia Sept. 7 [1899]

Alas, alas Mr. Gardner has come. I have tried everything in the form of persuasion, but all in vain. He says, just what I foresaw, that no one in their right mind would ever think of such a thing. And that it is his duty to keep me from doing just such things. So, the bubble is pricked. I can say no more, for I feel too badly. As to Venice-I shall be sorry, as I am always, to have you miss anything so beautiful. But perhaps, they say unwise things of people, here as well as in St. Moritz. Nobody does seem very nice there, from letters. When do you go to Florence? I should like to manage Oliveto, but can I make dates work? 1 Au revoir there. Yours Isabella Monte O liveto M aggiore was o pen to visitors only on application in the nineteenth century but is n ow o pen o n a regular basis . Âť I.

Dear Mrs. Gard ner

St. M oritz, Sep t. 9, l 899

We both have done our best, and can do not more. You can console yourself with the two Titians that you have already, and w ith th e know led ge that a pearl of the greatest price has been offered to you , and was within your grasp. No other living person can say as much. 188


I leave this adorable place and the remainder of its charming people tomorrow. I shall spend two days at Cadenabbia, and three or four at MilanHotel Cavour-and then descend to Florence. I shall start out again and wander about in Umbria. But, if you will be good enough to write when you mean to be in Florence, I shall return for you. Please do try to come to Monte Oliveto. Only I must know several days ahead as there are certain formalities to arrange, and the Prior has to be informed in good time. Write to the address printed on this sheet, unless you write first to Milan. I look forward with such pleasure to some days of talk and existence with you, to remind me of those delightful weeks we passed together two years ago. Yours ever devotedly B.B.

Dear Berenson

Rome Grand-Hotel Oct. 6 [1899]

Here we are safe and sound. My courier-maid met me at the station as we arrived from Orvieto. The Capo Stagione at Orvieto wired for a Riservato for me, and so we were alone-and very comfortable. Fancy our drive to Orvieto took r 3 hours! When you send to Paris the photograph of my Chigi Botticelli, ifI really may have more, please send three. And now, I want to say a very big Thank you for all you did to make the journey to Oliveto so delightful. What a memory it will be. And, to stoop to commoner things, we should have starved, quite simply starved, on the road to Orvieto without the sardines and cake! Let me hear from you. Yours Isabella-

Dear Mrs. Gardner

Gazzada, Prov. di Como 1 Oct. 9, 1899

I am sending you the reproduction of a remarkable little picture-remarkable not only intrinsically as being a fanciful exquisitely delicate painting but as a great rarity. It is by that painter who along with Diirer and Holbein stands at the very top of German art-I mean Martin Schongauer, the oldest of them. Only while Holbeins and Diirers are relatively common, of Schongauer there are scarcely half a dozen really genu~ne pictures known, of which very small number the little Madonna I am sending you is one. It is r 8 in. high, and 12 wide. It is like a Fra Angelico exiled to the North, and adding to all his other qualities, a fascinating melancholy. 2 I can get you this gem for two thousand pounds (ÂŁ2, ooo), a price distinctly reasonable considering de quoi il s'agit. If you care for it please lose no time in letting me know; indeed it would be more prudent to wire. Until the 17th you can address me here.


I think that this time I am in the most romantically beautiful spot on the whole earth-and with charming people too. Yours ever B. B. Âť r . BB was staying at an eighteenth-century villa on a hill above Gazzada, south of Varese .

The Virgin and Child is a free copy, much reduced, of the famous fifteenth-century Schongauer altarpiece in Colmar, France. ISG purchased the painting from Colnaghi as a work by Schongauer. Âť2 .

Dear Berenson

Rome Grand-Hotel Oct. ro [1899]

Does it seem to you worthwhile enough and beautiful enough to give $10,000 and more to have? I have much confidence in you-but so much money for "such a little baby" makes me doubt. Although the composition pleases greatly. I shall be at the Croce di Malta [La] Spezia Sunday the r 5th Oct. and at Genoa Wednesday r 8th (hotel Savoy) and on the 20th D. V. I shall be at the hotel Westminster Paris. I am off for Naples, and do not stop here on my way to Spezia, so I can't manage to see the Albani. I am glad everything smiles upon you. May it continue to. Yours IsabellaTell me about the people you are with. Thanks for your wire, just come.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Gazzada, prov. di Como Oct. 12, 1899

Although I know that I can not reach you for several days, yet, per sfogarmi, I write at once. I really am very anxious to have you possess the little Schongauer. Small it is, but commercially that makes a picture of this kind more rather than less valuable, and aesthetically the finer, for Schongauer like Fra Angelico was a man who worked best on a small scale. Then I am pretty sure from what I know of you and your taste that you will love this little picture dearly, and get continual pleasure out of it. Besides it will represent a whole epoch of art history. In fact the reasons for the purchase of this gem are so many that others can't help seeing them, and in consequence several persons are after it. My great fear is that it will be snatched away by the Berlin people. In short, I counsel you with all my heart to get it. If you take my advice, please telegraph here to me with as little delay as possible. I wrote to you two days ago to the Grand Hotel Rome. I think I then said something about the people here. At all events I can repeat. The master of the house is a rich Milanese noble, a bachelor, 1 whom I have met but now. I came on the invitation of his sister, the Countess Zucchini with whom I made friends at St. Moritz. The house is full of visitors who come and go, as in an English country house the life of which it resembles exactly. Trivulzio for instance stayed till yesterday. You have met him doubtless. He


is handsome beyond words, the grand seigneur as Titian at his best would have painted him. And he is pleasant to boot. Among the visitors is another friend of mine, Donna Laura Gropallo, a woman who can vie with any man for brains, and literary feeling. She is my special guardian angel. She has had lists made out of everything that may be of artistic interest in the neighborhood, and we spend hours every day exploring. The rest of the party are merry, witty, bright Italians jolly company. It really is high time, now that I have been in Italy ten years or more to cease living like a Chinaman and to join a bit in the life of the people. This neighborhood is having its season. All or nearly all the smart Lombards are here, and many even from elsewhere such as the Massimo and Terrannova from Rome, and the Serristori from Florence. 2 The last is a particularly delightful woman. They are all easy to get on with, having plenty of conversation, and let one be quite one's self. If society were all and always like that, I could not resist it. But directly it becomes ceremonious, directly snobbishness, and struggle for place appear, I put on seven league boots and skeddadle. I remain here till the 20th. But I hope to hear from you before that. Yours ever B.B. Âť r. Don Guido Cagnola (1862-1954) , founder of the Rassegna d'arte, was an art collector and close friend of the Berensons for many years. Âť2. Countess Hortense Serristori (1871-1960) , Spanish-born writer and wife of Count Umberto Serristori, was an art collector. She had a villa at the Saltino on the slopes of the Prato Magno and was a great friend of BB 's.

Dear Berenson

Grande Hotel Savoie Genes le l 8 Octobre [ l 899]

Is there any chance really of my buying the Torlonia Perugino? If I thought so, I would give up other things for it. Please let me know, as, if there is no chance I should like that dear lovely one of Wolkonsky. 1 But please do not say this to anyone; or speak of it, as I want no one else to begin on it. Yours IsabellaHow I hate Genoa! Âťl

.

The Wolkonsky Perugino is a half-length bust of Saint Sebastian now in the Hermitage,

Leningrad.

Dear Mrs; Gardner

Gazzada, Oct.

20, l

899

Torlonia certainly intends selling, but not now awhile. Chigi has been bullied out of his wits, and until that affair has been forgotten, and everything is smooth again Torlonia will do nothing . Then it will be a question of price simply. The Wolkonsky Perugino I have never seen, altho' I have heard of it. So 191


I can not guarantee its authenticity. And in any event I venture to question whether it would not be wiser to wait and get Torlonia's rather than now to buy another, and certainly less admirable work. But that of course is for you to decide. I need not add that I shall say no word to anyone of your intention. I leave early tomorrow for the Brianza, and presently Florence. Yours ever B. B. I hope you received the letters I sent you to Spezia and Genoa. [Paris] Oct. 23 [1899] Yes, dear Berenson-they say, (George Gardne路r, I mean) that he thinks he can raise the 拢2,ooo, so he is now cabling to America. Therefore I already enjoy the hope that that dear little picture is mine. Colnaghi sent me three photographs of the Botticelli, but they are not at all the kind I want. The one that was sent to me in America, and those I bought in Rome just now were very good and quite different. They are quite thick and have a soft dull surface, not shiny and thin like the ones Colnaghi sent. It almost seems as if I might have the right kind! I am sorry to bother you, but will you please ask him to send them to me here. The weather here is perfect. London sending over just enough haze to make a beautiful atmosphere. How are you? Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Milan, Oct. 24, r 899

Late Saturday night I received your telegram about the Schongauer. "Yes if possible to raise money. How much exactly." I wired back "Two thousand Pounds. Wire." From you I have yet had no decided answer. But meanwhile the owners have wired urging me to accept or refuse. I have done my best to persuade them to hold on yet awhile. As telegraph arrangements at the charming place where I have been staying are all [anything?] but perfect it is possible that my last wire reached you not at all, or that your answer failed to reach me. Will you then be sweet and patient, and if you want the Schongauer wire directly "Berenson Fiesole YEs"? Once more let me say that if you take this little picture you will bless me. I return to Florence tomorrow. My holiday is over, and if only my work goes well, how happy I shall feel! In the last fortnight I have seen a great deal of Italian life. I remain amazed at the luxury, and general good taste prevailing. But Lombardy of course is not Italy. The days are golden, autumn at its loveliest. Yours ever B.B.


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Oct. 26, l 899

Returning home last night, I found your letter about the Schongauer, and on the strength of it I telegraphed to secure it. So I hope it is yours. And as soon as you have the money you can send it please. I can not tell you how I enjoy being back. My rooms are charming now. I wish you could see them with the slightly hazed sunlight filling them, caressing the pretty objets d'~rt, and wonderful orchids which a friend has sent me . Noseda spent several hours with me Tuesday at Milan. He regretted not having seen you this year, and sends you his best remembrances. It is a smallish society, the Lombard, and slightly provincial perhaps, but jolly, charming, and handsome. There they have much taste and combine it with every comfort, and even luxury. I come back feeling that they at least give no cause for the too hackneyed complaints about the poverty and squalor of Italian life. I am glad you are enjoying Paris. No place is finer when it is fine there. Yours ever B.B. P. S. The photographs which Colnaghi sent you of the Botticelli are those they had made in London, and they have no others. The ones you like so much were done in Rome by Anderson. I already have written to him asking him to send me three copies which I shall send you directly they are received. B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner

3 Via Camerata, Florence Nov. 4, 1899

I am posting the photographs of your Botticelli. Since my return the weather has been a continuous miracle of southern splendour. Alas! it has not been for me. All these days I have spent in bed ill, I scarcely know wherewith. Today I am going out to drive. Think of me who loves to bound o'er the hills, scarcely able to totter. However I'm mending, and hope soon to be able to get to work. I wonder did you ever receive a photograph of some choir stalls I enclosed in a letter. 1 They are very beautiful. Were they to your liking? I hear that the Schongauer is secured. I can but congratulate you. Yours ever, B.B. Âť r. The choir stalls, two banks of five seats each with decorative carving between the seats and

at the ends, are North Italian, early sixteenth-century.

193


Dear Friend,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Nov. l l, 1899

It is very sweet of you to be so sympathetic about my illness. It is I fear nothing but constitutional feebleness and dyspepsia. I'd a great deal rather have an illness which either kills you or permits a clean recovery. But to drag on more or less seedily for a life time is not over amusing. The worst of it is that I should do no work at all. But for the present at least this is sheerly impossible. At the same time I feel so languid that I can scarcely pull my wits together, and half an hour of work leaves me dead beat. However, I enjoy life so much when I am at all well that really I can not complain; and if only I had not the demon of work at my back, I should take it all placidly. I have delayed writing until I could send another photograph of the choir-stalls which at last has come. There is just such another set of five as those reproduced in the photograph. They are North Italian, and as you will see very beautiful. I must add that they are perfectly genuine. That is rarer than any but very few people are aware of. Most things of the kind are very clever modern restorations with scarcely a tenth part old. The lowest possible price for them is 19,000 francs. As this is not in the way of "business" I feel more free than usual to urge you to give them a careful consideration. If you want them, let me know. The Schongauer you doubtless will already have received by the time this reaches you, as I wrote before receiving your last letter to have it sent to Robert's. Is tout Paris back? And are you seeing everybody? If Mme. de Rohan give her, please, my best remembrances. Have you by the way come across Le Paris Parisien? It is a sort of society guidebook which besides being practical is plein d'esprit, of the genuinely Parisian kind. I have just read Anatole France's Anneau d'Amethyste, 1 a very great exact photograph of good society in France at the present moment. It is certainly entertaining, but nothing like so much as being in the midst of the people and seeing and hearing them. If they had as much thought as they have esprit the rest of us would be nowhere. But the gods have divided goods pretty fairly among us; and on the whole I'm content with our lot. Whither will you go on the 20th, and what will be your address? Yours devotedly B.B. Âť 1. Anatole France, pseudonym for Jacques-Anatole-Franc;ois Thibault (r 844-1924) . The novel

L'Anneau d'amethyste was published in r 899.

Dear Berenson

[Paris] Nov. 14 [1899]

Your letter and the choir stalls photograph have just come. Many thanks. I am afraid I must think forever (not like the french you see) and never leave 194


the esprit to find out how to buy them. I find them beautiful but find no money to buy them with, the price seems colossal, even by the side of Hoe's

antiquaires. 1 Up to this moment no Schongauer. I am afraid it is in the hands of that beast Colnaghi. In which case I shall not see it. Why do you have to do with that man? I bought two frames (like my Botticelli one he produced) in Venice for 30 francs each! I shall be glad to retire from the picture trade, if only on Colnaghi's account. I know nothing of tout Paris; the streets are crowded but probably no one is here. Of course I make no visits whatever. Only one or two people have found me out and have called-notably the Bourgets, who are to me, very sympathetic and dear. I am very very sorry about your health. It is a brace that you need. It sounds like the influenza! Yours Isabella»I. Robert Hoe (1839-1909), manufacturer, industrialist, collector, and a founder of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dear Berenson

Paris Nov. 17 [1899]

The Schongauer has arrived and is now before me on a chair. I am delighted with it, delighted. The frame is a terror and most unbecoming, so I am having another made; with an old look that will go better and not make the delicate little picture shriek and scream. Placci has just been to see me, and is certainly one of the most delightful of men. We talked of you, naturally, so perhaps your right ear burned. I have also from Rome a Mantegna!1 But a Mantegna! And a Greek Head, archaic and perfect. 2 Everyone on their knees to them. What a pity you are not here. Are you better? Don't work too hard. Placci says you do. In haste, very great, Yours Isabella The small Mantegna Sacra Conversazione was bought for ISG from Prince del Drago, Rome, by Richard Norton (1872-1918) , son of Charles Eliot Norton and professor at the American School of Classical Studies, Rome, of which he was director, 1900-1906. »2. The "Greek Head" is an archaistic Greco-Roman Head of a Goddess . »l

.

Dear Mrs. Gardner

3 Via Camerata, Florence Nov. 20, 1899

You are one of the luckiest but also one of the cruellest women I know. Here for years I have been looking out for a Mantegna, and you who toil not, neither do you spin, have found one all by yourself. But how cruel to tell me neither what it is, nor to send me a photograph. Surely you do have one, or if not do ask Robert to have it made and sent to me. I am dying to see it, so do please send me a photograph. 195


I am glad you have seen Placci. I could not have two people discuss m e more to my own satisfaction. H e is a dear-and as for you , you surely know what I think of you. Slowly but surely I am gaining strength, and getting to work again . I have a fascinating but tremendous job before m e-Michelangelo. We have been having for a few days weather which reminded me of days when I used to buffet blizzards over West Boston Bridge with the thermometer way below zero . But it is mild and sweet again. Where are you now, and please the Mantegna photograph. Ever yours B.B .

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Dec. 4, 1899

I wrote about a fortnight ago, imploring you to tell me something about your Mantegna, and to send me a photograph thereof. But thus far no word from you, nor sign of photograph. And I have no idea where you are. Somewhere I hope where in a sublunary way you are happy. I enclose the photograph of a tondo on panel, about four feet in diameter. Who painted it I can not tell you. 1 He certainly worked at Lucca, and was a close follower of Filippino Lippi. The picture was almost certainly painted to celebrate a wedding. To right and left over the Madonna's head are two coats of arms, of the two united families. The groom you see in profile as a donor, but looking up, as you see, not at the Madonna, but at the St. Catherine, who fondly returns his tender gaze. As her features are those of a portrait, there can be no doubt that she was the bride. Happening to be named Catherina, she is represented as that Saint. In the frieze there are perfectly exquisite grotteschi in black and gold. The great value of this picture is in its preservation. I simply have never seen another old master so well preserved, so free from any kind of retouching. Then its colour is gorgeous. To students of technique it would b e a perfect boon, and for that among other reasons I would strongly urge you to buy it . T h e price is ÂŁ2, ooo (two thousand pou n ds) tutto compreso . T h at it is no t comm ercially speaking dear will be proved to you b y the fact that a London dealer is ready to buy it at that price- and o f course would ask the double. So if you can give attention to this matter during these last precious days of your stay abroad, pray do, and wire to me if you decide to take it. Berenson, Fiesole YES. At last I have told Davis about his Leonardo and he has taken it like a brick, simply, sensibly, and gracefully. I really do not know what can make one happier than when a friend behaves rather better than one expected. If


he only knew how he has risen in my esteem. I simply love to be able to approve of people. I am getting stronger, but slowly, and have not yet begun to write. Meanwhile I am enjoying gazing hours a day at Michelangelo's things, and delighting in the wondrous weather we are having, crisp, crystalline fragrant. Do let me know whence you sail. It is the 13th I remember. Ever yours B.B. This tondo is by an unknown artist called the Master of the Lathrop Tondo (after the purchaser at that time). It is now in the]. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, Calif. ÂťI.

Dear Berenson

[London] Deeb 6. [1899]

I wrote a few words before leaving Paris to say there was no photograph of the Mantegna. If I have one taken you shall have it. I was offered twice what I gave for it; I can't describe it now, for I can scarcely hold up my head. I have been ill ever since I got here. Solitary confinement in a little hotel bedroom! My throat is very bad still-and the doctor has ordered me away to Bournemouth. There I go to try and breathe and get well, if possible, before I sail. I must, or I can't face that voyage! The photograph you send me seems very charming-but I can buy nothing more now. I must get home and see what money I can raise before thinking of anything else. Write a word to the Royal Bath House Bournemouth. I stay there, presumably, until the 12th. Then go to Southampton where I take the Kaiser Vilhelm der Grosse-on the 13th. Yours Isabella I can't write another word.

Dear Friend,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Dec. 9, 1899

I am fearfully sorry to hear of your being so seedy. I do hope you will thoroughly recover before you sail, as I know from personal experience that nothing is more important at sea than to be in good form when one embarks. So I do hope Bournemouth will have done you good. No, I never got your letter from Paris about the Mantegna. Please do write to Robert to have a photograph of it made and sent me. It is small expense, and I should be eternally obliged to you. What you say about it makes me all the more anxious to see at least a photograph of it. Do not give up the tondo of which I send you the photograph. If when you get home you find you have the money to buy it, cable YETONDO. It is a picture you will love, and that would be a jewel even in the Isabella Gardner Museum in the Fens. 197


I wish you the pleasantest of journeys, and at all events, I know that you will enjoy getting home to your life there, a life which when is all deducted that may be, is yet as beautiful, and splendid, and full as is ever given to mortals. Ever devotedly yours B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Dec. 24, r 899

You are home now of course, comfortable, and happy to be there, certainly as compared with the insolent brutality of the bullying sea. We have been having wild, boisterous winter weather, and again and again I thought of you, and hoped that the elements running riot over land, were, for your sake, leaving the sea silent and placid. Placci came back less than a fortnight ago, and had much to tell me about you. How sweet it was of you both to burn incense for my better health! I have been seeing him almost everyday, and these last days continuously. Do you know of Alice Barbi, a divine singer, and enchanting woman? 1 She has been singing to us for hours and hours, making us feel as if we were doing her a favour in listening-singing with what a voice, what art, and such music, all the old great Italians, and Bach, and Schubert and Brahms. Occasionally we would adjourn to the galleries, and look at pictures and statues together. I am doing a good deal of work too wrestling with Michelangelo. I enjoy and learn, and almost forget that I am studying with the object of writing. There is no news except that Cottenet2 writes that it was Mr. Whitney who bought the Agnew Raphael. Que grand bien lui fasse! With best wishes for a Happy New Year. Ever devotedly yours B.B. Alice Barbi (1862-1948), Italian mezzo-soprano. Âť2. Rawlins L. Cottenet (1866-1951), landscape gardener, was a member of the board of the Metropolitan Opera Company, 19081950. ÂťI.

r 52 Beacon Street

Dear Berenson

Deeb 26 [1899]

I hoped yesterday to have a moment that I might send a greeting across seas to you-but that moment never came! Such weariness of the flesh I have had ever since setting foot on this benighted land, benighted although bathed in sunshine! Finally yesterday I could stand it no more, so I drove to Brookline, took my roast turkey and cranberry sauce with me, and dined there in peace (my old housekeeper taking care of me). I also spent the


night, and came back this afternoon refreshed. But the din, and the worry has re-begun, so I think I shall go to bed! A good safe place. How are you? Do get better and well. Or come here and stay with me at Brookline; that is lovely, and a sure cure. I have just been looking at the photograph of those Gothic stalls that you sent me-price 19,000 fr. That scared me blue. But they are so beautiful. Can't you really get them cheaper for rne. Please do-I must have them. Will you? When you find an idle moment will you do me a favour? Please make a list of all the pictures you have got for me, (if you can remember them) and put opposite to each name put to whom it belonged and in what house it was. I tried to see the other Kingston Lacey pictures, but they were too inhospitable and wouldn't let me. 1 Get me the Gothic stalls like a dear, and believe me always yours Isabella ÂťI. Kingston Lacey, Dorset, home of the Bankes family for three hundred years, was opened

in 1986 as a National Trust property.

Dear Mrs. Gardner

3 Via Camerata, Florence Jan. 9, 1900

I was truly delighted to hear that you were safe and sound in the hurlyburly of the trans-Atlantic world. It is sweet of you to wish I were with you at Brookline. I would love it, simply, literally love it, but if man grind and toil not when he is in his best years when shall he? But my work even has a certain reference to you. It will not, if I keep on working, be long I venture to think before I shall take rank as undisputedly the first authority on Italian paintings, and this-excuse my conceit, if frankness be conceit-will give a considerable added lustre to a collection I have humbly helped to form. Which reminds me that I enclose a list of your pictures so far as I can remember them with the collections from which they have originated. I have not included enfants trouves-pictures just picked up in the market without any history whatsoever. I spent a good part ,of this afternoon, trying to beat down the owner of the choir stalls, but all to no purpose. In truth he was rather happy than otherwise when you would not take them at l 9, ooo fr. I had beaten him then down to the lowest farthings, and as he is under certain obligations to me, that was much lower than anyone else could have had them for. They seemed dear to you, and I so often have to bore you, and persuade, protest and urge, that for once I thought I should not. But the fact is that genuine Gothic woodwork is one of the rarest of curiosities. Think of the effect of five centuries on wood! Most of the things one sees even in churches-not to speak of things for sale-are practically mere copies having been entirely made over. But these that I secured for you today are absolutely untouched, 199


and you must not be surprised to find bits of them eaten into. I am having them touched up here and there minutely and delicately. This and the expensive packing will be included in the 19,000. Please send the cheque for the equivalent, £760, and shipping orders. I am much better, at all events enough to work 16 hours a day some days, and never less than lo. Except Placci I see scarcely a soul, but he comes up every few days. At my solitary meals I read recent French plays by Curel, Becque, Porto-Riche, and Douvay, certainly very pleasant reading, and far from lacking in thought, or even beauty, but without that unfolding of character which seems to me essential to drama. I must have a photograph of your Mantegna, for a pupil of mine is writ~ng a book upon him, and I wish it to go in. So please do send me one. A bientot. Ever devotedly yours B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner

3 Via Camerata, Florence Jan. 14, 1900

I am sending you by the same post a platinotype photograph after that merle blanc, a landscape by Rembrandt. 1 Your own eyes will tell you better than my poor prose what a poem it is, of what exquisitely intimate feeling, how it contains within itself the graciousness of Claude Lorrain, the magic of Turner, the idyllic charm of Corot, but all raised to a higher power, constituting a work of art of exquisite, sweet pathos and profound feeling. More than this you will see if you look at the photograph. But I must explain that with its usual treachery photography turns things topsy turvy and just because the panel is light in tone, it comes out dark in the print. This must you discount. You must with your mind's eye see it as it is in the original, transparent, light, a wonderful harmony in greens and browns. You must know that by a generous count there are scarcely a dozen landscapes by Rembrandt. In the great exhibition of this master's works held at Amsterdam in the autumn of l 898 this was beyond question the finest of the landscapes, and a picture that attracted universal attention. It is dated 1636, and is to be reproduced in the next volume of Bode's Rembrandt. I dare say you will remember that you authorized me to offer £40, ooo (forty thousand pounds) to Lord Lansdowne for his Mill, but we could not get it at that price. Perhaps you have kept the print I then sent you of that masterpiece. If you have please compare it with the one I am sending now. I think you will agree with me that if the landscape is less tragic, less portentous than the Mill, it yet is not inferior in any sense, is perhaps even more delicate in feeling, that it simply is somewhat less famous-and a little smaller. But I am not asking you to pay anything like £40,000 for this landscape. 200


I can get it as a great bargain, for £4, 500 (four thousand five hundred pounds). You will I think agree that is not dear. It is on wood 2l 112 inches high, and 27 1/2 wide. I can scarcely doubt but that you will be as eager to buy the picture as I am to have you. I do hope you will be able to raise the money, and with the least possible delay please wire (as I hope) your acceptance, Berenson, Fiesole, YEMBANT. It is as a very special favour to me that you thus have the first offer of this jewel. Now, I am not anxious to have you own braces of Rembrandts, like any vulgar millionaire. But I have from the first been on the look out for typical works, such as give an idea of his style and evolution. After this landscape, I shall watch for something in his fantastic style, and something in his grand last manner, and then you will be complete. My work is absorbing me and keeping me busy. I go on with French plays, and took in Ibsen's last, When We Wake the Dead-truly a masterpiece, highly poetical, symbolical, and fascinating. 2 I enclose a very amusing cutting. 3 Whoso wrote it must have a good idea of the height of your aims and how difficult it is to stop you. Ever yours B.B. The Obelisk, dated 163 8, from Colnaghi. Only recently has the work been reattributed to Rembrandt's pupil, Govaert Flinck. »2 . Henrik Ibsen's Naar vi d0de vaagner (When We Dead Awaken) was published in r 899. »3. The newspaper clipping has been lost. » r. ISG purchased

l 52

Dear Berenson

Beacon Street Jan. 19, 1900

Your letter with the photograph came this minute. And immediately I write to say No-it can't be-I literally haven't a cent. Of course if the Raphael could be had and only at this moment-I would borrow to buy it, but nothing short of the greatest on earth is worth the wear and tear that I have to go through to borrow money. So, I am sure you are as unhappy as I am about it, and that is, very. I solace myself by daily visits to Brookline, and that is always delightful. Keep well, and keep always the power to work. That is the best of all things. Yours IsabellaPlease send me when you possibly can a complete list of the provenance of all the pictures I have had through you. I mean from whom I bought them, and where they came from. I. S. G. 201


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Jan. 28, 1900

For four years I have been trying to get hold of a picture for you. At first and for a long time the man who owns it would not sell at all, and then only if he were tempted by a fabulous price. At last I can get it, and considering de quoi il s' agit at a very reasonable price. You will appreciate why I have been so keen to get hold of this picture when I tell you that it is byguess, but you never would-by GIOTTO. I am not going to insult you by talking to you about Giotto, nor even about his rarity. The National Gallery for instance has nothing whatsoever by him, and it is a rare thing for any of the collections of the world to boast of. 1 The one of which I am sending you the photograph is a small panel only r 7 inches square, representing on a gold ground the Presentation of the Christ Child in the Temple. The composition is very nearly the same as in the fresco at Padua, and the date by the way is toward 1306. 2 As you will see the subject is treated with the grand impressive simplicity that was the very essence of Giotto's style. Only four figures, beside the Infant; but how much character and purpose there is to each figure, how superabundantly well they tell the story, what dignity there is to each! Then look how delicately intimate is the movement of the Child towards the extended hands of His mother. As for the colour it is gorgeous, harmonious and transparent, the greens, and whites, and blues truly exquisite. The condition is excellent. Of course there is not a shadow of a doubt about this picture being by Giotto. I am ready to stake my reputation upon it myself, and altho' it has been in London exhibited a number of times, its authenticity has never been called into question. Considering all of which things the price at which I can get it for you is most reasonable. It is fifteen hundred ( r, 500) pounds sterling. But it is I do assure you at no small outlay of industry and diplomacy that I am able to offer you this picture at all. There are any number of maws gaped wide to swallow it. So I pray you to lose no time to cable YEGIOTTO, and if so, to write your shipping orders. I have left no space for anything else. I am still keeping well, altho' \Vorking at such pressure. My sister writes of a charming hour she spent with you. A few night ago I saw Hamilton-A"ide who had much to tell me about you and your friend Jephson. 3 A bient8t B. B. » r. ISG purchased Giotto's Presentation of the Infant Jesus in the Temple from the J.-P. Richter

Collection, London. The Pentecost, a companion to the Gardner Museum's panel, was given to the National Gallery, London, in 1942. Other panels in the series are in The Metropolitan J\t1useum of Art, the Alte Pinakothek, Munich (which has three), and Villa I Tatti. »2. The panel is now dated in the l 32os. »3. Arthur Jeremy Monteney Jephson (18 58-1908), a friend ofISG's since 1890, had been in Africa with Stanley and written of his adventures; see Jephson, Em in Pasha and the Rebellion at the Equator: A Story of Nine Months' Experiences in the Last of the Soudm1e Provinces (New York, 1890). 202


Dear Berenson

Sunday morning Feb. 4, 1900

I am beginning in comparative peace to write to you. I am so much driven by people asking questions all the time, that when a moment comes that I am alone in the house I can write a word perhaps! I did not cable for the Rembrandt, because after 3 or 4 days of useless endeavours to raise the money I gave it up-and so humiliatedly write that I can't. The list that you made out for me is gratefully received. But still I want to know more. From whom did you buy the Angelico? " " " " " the Cellini bust? From whom did you buy the Correggio? " " " " " c nve . 11I."? " " " Mino da Fiesole? " " " " " Rubens? " " " " " S. del Piombo? " " And whence came and from whom did you buy the Polidoro Isabella d'Este? Don't let all this make you cross! I want to be thoroughly au courant. I thank you so much for getting me the stalls-I will have the money for £760 sent to Barings for you. Will you have them (the stalls) sent to Fernand Robert; but please do not say anything abut the value. I want him to forward them to me at some merely nominal price on account of the terrible duty of 60°/o on carved wood! So I will write to him about them; but he must not get an inkling from you of their value. His address is 30 rue Joubert Paris. I have been interrupted just as much as ever. Forgive. Let me know how you are. Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner

3 Via Camerata, Florence Feb. 7, 1900

Bode seems to have got wind some ten days ago that the Rembrandt was for sale, and began to wheedle, coax, and finally threaten if it was not given to him. At first it rather amused me, but in three or four days when I already should have received your answer I began to grow anxious and finally to despair. I received wires every day urging me to a yes or no and I kept wiring back to hold the picture for me. So finally I cabled to you, and to my great joy this morning I received your answer. I wired at once for the picture, and altho' I have not yet read the answer I hope it is all right. As soon as I receive it, which will probably be tomorrow I'll cable to you. Meanwhile I am sending you the last number of the Kunstchronik, 1 the most important art-weekly in existence, and lest you be not too conversant 203


with the jargon of the Germans I translate the paragraph which concerns you:The collection of Georg Rath, 2 member of the Hungarian House of Lords, a collection held in the highest esteem by specialists has just been sold to the art firm Colnaghi of London. It is a great loss to Hungary, and there is great surprise that M. Rath did not first offer his collection to the government. Among his pictures there were for instance two Rembrandts which were greatly admired two years ago at Amsterdam. One was the portrait of a woman, the other a marvellous landscape. The price of the last named picture alone is said to have been IOO,ooo Marks (£5,000). Thus you see the original owner is supposed to have got £s,ooo for the picture, and that doubtless is the price which those who make the prices think it was worthwhile for a dealer to pay. And of course the dealer is expected to make his profit. I send you this little notice, partly for my own honour, and glory, and partly in the hope it may a wee bit soften your heart to the Maligned Colnaghis. There is nobody like them for fereting out fine things in remote out of the way places like Buda-Peste. Then you have for once a chance to see at the very instant of buying how reasonable the prices I get from them are. Forgive this flourish or sermon, and receive my best thanks for all the trouble you must have taken to be 'able to buy this picture. I assure you it was worth it. You speak of the Raphael in your last letter. It is evident then that I have forgotten to tell you about two months ago a letter from Lord Cowper's solicitor positively assured me that "the noble Lord" would not conceivably dream of selling his Raphael. 3 Furthermore it is entailed, and unless the family could prove crying distress-which is far from being the case-can not possibly be sold. So please put that out of mind, and try to console yourself with other pictures, less famous conceivably, infinitely less expensive, but not necessarily less beautiful as works of art. Wicked, damp, slimy weather which is using me up. It makes me ache all over, so that I scarcely can sit up to write. Yours ever B.B. » r. The Kunstchronik was published under several names in Leipzig from l 866 to 1924. »2. Georg von Rath bequeathed his house and collection to the city of Budapest in 1905 . »3. The Cowper Raphael, for which see BB to ISG, 16January [1898], note 2.

Dear Berenson

I 52 ~eacon Street Sunday Feb. II [I900]

How I wish I had got your cable about the Giotto before that about the Rembrandt. Of course I want the Giotto-that there is no question about! But the Rembrandt left me cold, and it was only because you seemed so anxious about it, that I wired to get it. Of course I feel sure you can hand it over to Bode; for, as you said he would take it if I did!l't, that will be all 204


right. So please do that, and then I can have the Giotto. I shall wire today, (your letter came last night) "Rather Giotto than Rembrandt." I don't know when the Rembrandt money can be sent to Barings for you-but they will do it as soon as possible-and you can substitute it for Giotto payment. You see, I act as if Bode really meant it. I am always really frightened at the prices they ask you-even what you call cheap are very dear compared with my Mantegna. 1 I am hoping to manage to send you a photograph of it soon. I smuggled it and the Schongauer in. Being small they went in my trunk. The poor Schongauer can't stand our climate, and is bursting in the place where its old break was. I fancy you know of that-the break, (not crack) went the whole height of the picture, and in this climate comes to pieces and shows the old glue! I am having it very well repaired. I saw Blair Fairchild the other day. He says he is hard at work in New York. Are you better? I hope so. Well, in fact, you must be. America is more bracing as a climate than Europe I am sure. Please don't mind what I say to you about prices. The very enormous sums they ask you make it impossible for me to buy. And I always feel sure you are having to pay Colnaghi as you did in the Holbein case. Don't do it. I am beginning to make a catalogue for my own use. It is very slow work. I am sure it will do you a world of good to have your enchanting sister with you. always Sincerely yours IsabellaÂť r. The price of the Mantegna Sacra Conversazione was

125,000

lire.

l 52

Dear Berenson

Beacon Street Feb. 19 [1900]

I am today cabling YEGIOTTo-because I do want it-but oh, the trouble! How am I to get the money. Please in future if you have things that you want me to buy, tell me about all at once, and let me choose. You know, or rather, you don't know, that I adore Giotto; and really don't adore Rembrandt. I only like him. The trustees are doing up my accounts for the year. It seems there is a terribly big 122,000 dollars, to you (and something like it) for last March and I can't remember what for. Do you know? Please tell me. This goes in great haste, as I am called away. Yours Isabella-

Dear Mrs. Gardner

3 Via Camerata, Florence Feb. 24, 1900

I do wish you had been here today, for it has been a day out of fairy-land, with all the generous glow, all the delicious fragrance, all the glow and 205


colour of an Italian spring day. I should have gone to work in the Archives but I chose the better part, and wandered over the hills, visited my favourite trees, found the almonds everywhere in blossom, and the brooks dashing down the terraces in turbulent cataracts. You really should have been there. I delayed answering your letter until I could find out the provenance of the Schongauer. Meanwhile I was made very happy by your cable telling me you would take the Giotto. It really was no easy matter to keep it for you, and I pride myself on having succeeded. The Schongauer comes from the Sepp Collection at Munich. The Angelico, the Cellini, the Crivelli, the Rubens, and the Piombo were all bought of the Colnaghis. The Mino I bought of Volpi, and the Correggio of Gagliardi, both of Florence. The Isabella d'Este I got from the Colnaghis. It comes from the Scarpa Collection of Motta di Livenza. The choir-stalls are being packed and will presently go to Robert's, without indication of price. My friend Mrs. Costelloe has just returned from London and Paris. 1 I begged her to go and look at your Rembrandt landscape. She tells me she has never seen another, not even Rembrandt's own Mill, which impressed her so profoundly. She says that in art-circles in Paris there is no talk but of the fairy marvels of your collections. They recount that you and Rothschild bid the Sacred and Profane Love up to 4,000,000 francs! How I hope your purse and your courage won't give out, for I have looks out for several things-marvels indeed. Do you know a Mr. Stanley Mortimer? 2 Sangiorgi3 came to me the other day with an embassy from him to the effect that he would pay me enormous sums if I inserted in my books, or otherwise published the pictures and marbles he was going to buy. I naturally expressed something of the indignation I felt, and to excuse him Sangiorgi told me "Cosa vuole, e il figlio di un sarto arricchito." Considering how I have been working I keep pretty well. In three weeks my sister will be here I hope, and then I shall devote most of my time to showing her Italy, and to the vicarious enjoyment of her first impressions. You I am sure know what a pleasure it is to show things one loves to people one loves who can appreciate beautiful things. Think of it our black thorns are in blossom, as delicious as May. Ever yours B.B. Mary was returning from attending her husband's deathbed. »2. Stanley Mortimer (1855-1932) of New York City was trained in Paris as a painter and became a collector. Since his death, his collection has been dispersed. »3. Galleria Sangiorgi was in the Palazzo Borghese, Rome. Sangiorgi, the owner, was a dealer and auctioneer. ISG bought three paintings in 1895, one painting in 1906, and various objets d'art from the gallery. » l.

206


r 52 Beacon Street March 4 [1900]

You are a dear, but funny person. I got your letter yesterday. You will see by mine (received by this time I think) that what I meant was not to crawl out of a bargain, (i.e. Rembrandt) but simply to let Bode have it! That ought to have been easy enough, as he was so anxious to have it. Can you remember what the Simone Martini pictures cost? I have no memory and every paper and list is in dire confusion. Those pictures were offered to me from Rome before you got them for me, and George Gardner has that offered price on a list and wants me to tell him what I paid, as he can't make it tally. So, please look it up, and let me know. And, will you please some day, get on a piece of paper the blue colour that Bardini has on his walls. 1 I want the exact tint. Perhaps some little person can paint it on a piece of paper. What a nuisance life becomes. I was utterly worn out by my Autumn abroad and am only just getting over it. One, at least I, can't be comfortable travelling and in hotels. And here there is the fearful servant question! Such is life. Yours Isabella» r. The formula was applied as fresco on the walls of several galleries.

3 Via Camerata, Florence

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

March 5, r 900

The large sum of money sent me last March went to pay for the Holbeins, the Angelico, the Mino, the Simone Martinis, and the Francia. Yesterday I heard from Baring that they had received for me £6, ooo. Of this £4, 500 are for the Rembrandt and £r, 500 for the Giotto. The choir-stalls went to Paris last week. They made great difficulties about letting them leave the country. My last letters were full of the sounds of spring, but in the last few days we have had a most fierce return of winter. Florence is not disturbed however, and festivities and even dancing continues altho' Lent has begun. They say Florence has been the gayest town in Italy this season. It is all due to the Count of Turin. 1 He has charming manners, such perfect ease and grace. One could almost guess en connoisseur even if one did not know all the circumstances that he came out of the hands of the Grazioli. My own appearance at one or two balls has been rather amusing. A ghost could scarcely have caused more surprise, "What you, you at a ball! Is it really you?" And I discover that by the mere fact of going nowhere, I have become a reputation, that I am wanted. Now that I know the trick I will keep myself more

207


precious than ever. But what fun it is once in a dog's age to plunge into the glittering, buzzing rose-coloured world! The sensation almost equals what one felt on first going to the theatre as a child. Addia, stia bene B.B. Âť r. The count of Turin (r 870-1946) was the second son of Amadeo, younger brother of the

king ofltaly; Amadeo was king of Spain, 1870-73.

Dear Friend,

Nervi March r 4, r 900

Work was getting too much for me and I have come to rest here a few days with my friends the Gropallos. 1 They have an enchanting villa, stretching with its lawns and palms to the rock-bound Mediterranean. After three days I already feel like another man. A life of dignified luxury, in the open air with charming people agrees with me. And the Italians are so amusing. Their ideas are very simple. Yesterday calling on the Dorias, and happening to talk of Van Dyck and the long stay he made at Genoa, the Marches a said "To stay here so long he must have had some lady to keep him" as if there could have been no other possible reason. At dinner the other night a sage and solemn professor observed that in his opinion there was for a man nothing to live for save the hope of some day sacrificing his life for the love of a man. C'est l'amour, l'amour qui fait le monde en ronde, and they interpret everything accordingly. Thus a woman may not talk of a man but it is at once a matter of course that he is her lover. Lady Brqoke, the Rani of Sarawak lives here, 2 and having the habit of smart English women to talk of the people she has known, the other day to me who am presumably interested she spoke of Pater, Burne-Jones, and Swinburne. Now the Rani as you know is at the least even now an ex-beauty, was magnificent, and enjoys the fame and splendour of a lady in waiting to her majesty Queen Venus. So leaving her house, the Ita.lian friend who accompanied me immediately began to talk of these worthy gentlemen as the Rani's lovers. I nearly died of laughter. Burne-Jones, Pater and Henry James being anybody's lovers, and most of all of un bel pezzo di donna like the Rani! A fascinating German priest is here also , a certain Father Kraus who has for many years been secret diplomatic agent chiefly to the Vatican. He is as vain as a spoiled peacock, but thereby we catch him for he loves nothing better than to surround himself with an admiring audience, and when he feels that they are duly appreciative he will talk for hours about the people he has known, inimitably with brilliant epigram, endless wit, and subtle malice. The event of the moment is D' Annunzio 's last novel Il fuoco, an undisguised chronicle of his liaison with the Duse. There are exquisite, and sublime pages in this filthy book. 208


I expect my sister tomorrow. We shall stay in Florence till Easter, and then to Rome. How lovely is the blue of the sea thro' the palms! Ever yours B.B. Marchese Luigi Gropallo of Rome received his title from the Crown in l 899. His wife, »2. Lady Laura, wrote an essay on BB for the 16 October 1904 issue of Nuova antologia . Brooke (Margaret Alice Lily de Windt) married in l 869 the raja of Sarawak, Sir Charles Johnson Bro0ke (1829-1917). »I.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence March 19, 1900

I returned last night with my sister and found your letter. I know nothing whatever of Andrea Resse and his bas-reliefs. I at all events have no acquaintance and no relations with any such person. It occurs to me however that Resse is the name of a notorious Florentine Roman adventurer, who married a rich American, and after running thro' with her fortune, devoted himself to trying to make money by hanging on to American millionaires. I am cabling to you, and writing to Robert that I know nothing of this matter. For the Simones I charged you £500 tutto compreso, and the compreso comprehended a good deal. There were taxes, very expensive packing and repacking, my own commission and the pay for six weeks hard work of the most skillful restorer except Cavenaghi that there is in Italy. I had him work in my house, and did not allow him to do a thing without my inspection. The trouble was that the paint was flaking off everywhere, so that without this operation the panels would have reached Paris bare of the paintings. Now they are safe for centuries, and as well done as possible. I never speak of these things to you, but I really can not make you understand what time and trouble this one job gave me, not to speak of all the risk of annoyance entailed by buying well-known works of art out of a public gallery in the "Papal States." 1 Deducting all expenses-and you must remember these would have been no greater if the picture had cost £50,000 instead of £500, I calculate that I gave you these Simones for l l, ooo francs. I say I calculate because I had to buy these Simones along with four other panels relatively worthless, because they would not sell the ones without the others. I paid 14,000 for the lot exclusive of all expenses. Now, is it possible that really you were offered these Simones for less than l l, ooo francs? Of course it is possible. In picture-dealing everything is possible; but do permit me to say once again that I really am not in the least responsible for the prices at which people may have offered you pictures which I sell you afterwards. The price of a work of art is not the same from day to day, nor is it the same for two persons on the same day. 209


I confess that dearly as I love you to have these Simones I have bitterly regretted parting with them. They would have been a joy for ever to me, and at a price I easily could afford for myself. I had an awful struggle with myself over them, and finally decided that it really was my duty to let you have them. I would joyfully pay you £1,000 for them, if you could be persuaded to part with them now. I am sending you the photograph of Caroto's masterpiece. Caroto as you know was a delightful Veronese painter and master of Paolo [Veronese]. The photograph does the picture no justice whatever because the strong point of Caroto, as of all the Veronese masters, is not their drawing but their colour. The colour of this Holy Family is really gorgeous. And the landscape is a perfect dream of golden, amber hazes. It is on wood 41 cm. high, and 48 cm. wide. The price is £3 50. If you want it cable YECAROTTO. If you don't take it, I probably shall keep it for some time and if I ever sell it, it will be for nothing under four figures. But I must warn you, as you asked me to, that I hope before another month is over to be able to offer you a picture-"mystic, wonderful"-the like of which has never reached Atlantic shores. It is of a purity of quattrocentisteria simply unsurpassable. If I know you, it will simply enchant you. So be prepared with a pure heart and-a full purse. I will get you a sample of Bardini's wall colour directly. My sister sends her best regards, and will write to you presently. She is all in a glamour. I took her at once after landing to my friends at Nervi, and you can imagine the effect on her of palms, and all the flower-world of an almost tropical climate. Good-bye, and forgive the too boring parts of this letter. I am a bore only by compulsion. Ever yours B.B. Please do not forget to send me the photograph of your Mantegna. The altarpiece Th e Madonna and Child with Four Saints was privately owned but on loan to the Opera del Duomo, Orvieto . » I.

l

Dear Berenson

52 Beacon Street

March

19 [1900]

I have begun to make a little catalogue for my own amusement. I paste the photographs of my originals into a book and write the provenance etc etc. And I am fighting with architects and city government because I won't have "Steel Construction" 1-so I may have to end by having nothing! Only an air Castle after all. Oh my poor bubble, who will prick it? The roba from Resse has turned out to be a wonderful della Robbia. 2 I am so sorry to have bothered you; Every time any one delays details other people suffer. I am always delighted to get letters from you. And your social 210


successes are very diverting. But anything is worth while at some one moment of need. Yours Isabella Eventually some steel was used in the construction of the museum. »2. The Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Giovanni della Robbia and workshop, which ISG bought in Rome in 1899 through Richard Norton. » l.

l

Dear Berenson

52 Beacon Street March 30 [1900]

Do you know anything about this? A friend of mine in Venice can buy it for me quite cheap, and says it is beautiful. If you can tell me how to find out if it is a real live Carpaccio, I shall be grateful. 1 I have been having (am in the midst of) an exhibition of my things on the lst floor, tickets for the two mornings $2-for the one afternoon $3. The money to go to the School for Cripples; 2 a charity I think much of. Tickets limited; and forty or fifty people already turned from the doors! I am mailing the photograph of the Mantegna-but alas it is very poor. Come back with your sister! Yours Isabellaand bring some of my things in your pocket! Please return to me the enclosed paper. » l. The two panels, of Andromeda and of Saint George, are now in a private collection in

Paris, attributed in the 1957 edition of Venetian Painters of The Renaissance to a "close follower" of Carpaccio. »2. Industrial School for Crippled and Deformed Children, now the Cotting School for Handicapped Children on St. Botolph Street.

Dear Friend,

Bologna, April

l,

1900

I am spending the week's end here, and as I was leaving Florence yesterday your letter came telling me that Resse's bas-reliefs turned out to be wonderful della Robbias. It is hard for me to say what I feel that as a friend I ought to say because it is so obviously easy to put a wrong interpretation upon it, and to say I have my own axe to grind. Yet I must, and I do beg you to believe that I am disinterested. It is this. That a school picture is generally on first acquaintance more attractive even to me than the master's genuine work, and that a forgery is more fetching still. So that you simply must not let yourself be guided by impression only. It is not that your impression is less trustworthy than mine for instance. I think it quite as good, only I never let myself be guided by impression only. Not only do I rely on a considerable store of knowledge, but I almost never venture to decide to the extent of buying without careful comparative studies. But if it is unwise to rely on mere attractiveness and charm in painting, it is unsafe in marbles and absolutely fatal in glazed terracottas. Of a hun211


dred "della Robbias" at least ninety-five are modern forgeries, and the rest neither Lucas nor Andreas, and relatively worthless. So I would beg you to be very careful-and if possible to consult me. I would charge you nothing, I could cable a yes, or no, and I trust you have sufficient faith in me to be sure that I could consult nothing but your interest. Ned Warren altho' he lives in the midst of the market never buys a Renaissance object without consulting me, and it is only in cases where I have to travel and give time that I let him pay 21/2째/o, or more. Voila j'ai dit, and I won't come back to the subject. I am staying with a charming lady, and meeting some of the notables of Bologna. It is a fascinating, simpatica town. Last night we went to Aristophanes' Pluto, well given by the students of the university. In a few days I will write about a picture-you'll see. Yours ever devotedly B. B.

5 Via Camerata, Florence Easter Sunday, 1900

A happy Easter to you, dear Friend. Never was day more lovely. Oh, our skies, and our fields! Would you were here to wander with me through them. I re-enclose the notes about the "Carpaccio." I know it well. It has nothing whatever to do with Carpaccio, but is the pretty work of a cassonepainter of the l 5th century. It belongs to Marini of the Piazza de' Frari. He asks l 5,000 lire, but I am pretty sure one could get it for 12,000, or perhaps even lo,ooo lire. It is the kind of picture I have offered me at least once a day, and I never think it worth while to bore you with them. Many thanks for the photograph of the Mantegna. It looks ravishing. But, oh, I do wish you had not bought it without consulting me. 1 Never have I lived in such a turmoil as in the last fortnight. Simply everybody has been here, people one must be polite to, others to see on business, others still too enchanting not to be seen as much as possible. Queen among these is Frau Cosima Wagner, who has bewitched me. 2 It is not that I care so much to talk to her. Her ideas are on very few subjects my ideas. I simply enjoy her as a great aesthetic impression, for she is beautiful and grand, and has brains, and expresses herself well. I feel toward such a person as I do towards a great work of art. I wish to enjoy her in the same way and I think no more of the effect I may be making on her, than of the effect I may be making on a picture. At the opposite pole from Mme. Wagner comes Mrs. Ladenburg. 3 Her I had the felicity of seeing at Rodolphe Kann's at dinnef one evening, along with a Mrs. Stevens, a rather handsome, flattering lady who seemed to 212


know you. It was an amateur's dinner. The talk was of little but yourself. How you were cursed for draining Europe dry! For the last ten days Davis also has been here, buying everything he could lay hands on. It has kept me busy, and many a time have I wished that the thing was going to you and not to him. But they are bronzes, plaquettes, ivories which must be bought on the spot, for photographs give no idea of them, and they are the kind of thing which really must be bought at sight. What a jolly idea to exhibit your collection as a charity. Think what it will be when the Isabella Gardner Museum in the Fens is opened. It is one of the things I really live for. Senda and I start for Rome tomorrow-but please continue to address here. I envy Senda her first sight of all the things we are going to see together. Ever yours, B.B. » r. When BB published it (Italian Pictures of The Renaissance [Oxford, 1932 ]), he attributed it

»2. Cosima Wagner (1837-1930), in great part to Mantegna with the signature added later. daughter of Franz Liszt and wife of Richard Wagner, helped develop the Bayreuth Festival and was art director of the festival's plays. »3. Mrs. Adolf (Emily Stevens) Laden burg of New York.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. April 27 [1900]

Thanks for returning the Carpaccio letter. They asked me lo,ooo Lire for it! It seemed cheap comparatively, for anything with such a pretty frame! But even $2000 pictures do not seem to be for me. I have been trying ever since the receipt of your letter for a possible way to buy the $JO ,ooo one you offer. I am afraid I shall have to give it up. The photograph came two days ago, and is I think beautiful. But my trustees tell me I have positively nothing as security, left to borrow on, and unless some friend can and will lend; all IS up. The glazed Robbia that worries you, is all right, according to Robbia experts. I have owned it for several years and had it sent from Rome to Paris. The trouble was I didn't know the name of the forwarding agents; and so bothered you! I do indeed envy you seeing all those beautiful things. With a "firsttime-heart-and-eye." All my sympathy for your sister. How happy you must both be. Do you remember telling me about a dinner at Hargous in Venice, where you met "that inexpressible bore Mrs. Ladenberg." I assure you, with time you will go back to that opinion. But the outside of her is most attractive. Poor Emily! 213


Thanks and thanks for your Easter Greetings. I am in Brookline, and so happy to be! This ungrateful America with its tariff and building laws and petty ignorant officials, is fast persuading me to give up the whole Museum idea. Every man's hand is against me. My money is used up; and my life I fancy will be spent here with my flowers. A lovely life all the same. I wish you were here. Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Perugia, May 5,

I 900

I was going anyhow to write today to tell you something about the week's wandering that we have had since we left the pilgrims, the tourists, the society, and the general hurly-burly of Rome. And now I get your charming note in response to my cable about the adorable Annunciation. 1 Yesterday I looked at the empty spot over the Porziuncula near Assisi where it used to hang. We were with a beautiful creature, Lina Duff Gordon who is just finishing a book on Assisi. 2 She pointed at what I had said about this picture in my Central Italian Painters and wondered what [in] the world had become of it. Today I rushed to the gallery here to see all the Fiorenzos, but none of them comes up to that one. It is a miracle of quattrocentisteria. I really can not begin to tell you how sorry I am that you are not to have it. I knew it was a picture you would worship, and that its price was perfectly reasonable. It did not occur to me that you really could not raise the money. I have kept the picture for you till now on the shadow of a hope. I fear it can be kept no longer. But if you can't have it, I want to make a serious effort to have it go elsewhere in Boston, or if that prove impossible then at least somewhere chez nous. A picture of this purity and sanity may never again come into the market, and among us it would have inevitably an educating effect on taste. So if a way should meanwhile have opened to you, and you find by miracle that you can buy the picture, you might cable, and if the picture is not actually sold, I will see that you have it. My intention had been to take my sister to Naples, but owing to the lateness of the season-it is about a month behind-Naples, we heard was as tourist-ridden as Rome. We had had enough of Germans so we plunged into the heart of the Abruzzi visited Sulmona, Aquila and Rieti, fascinating towns with picturesque peoples in the grandest mountain scenery. Then we saw Narni and Spoleto, and drove along the delicious Clitumnus to Assisi. 3 There we spent three perfect days, haunting the crumbling, pearly grey town, climbing over and under its ruins, smelling the acacias in bloom, and above all frequenting S. Francesco. There on Ascension day we heard a young priest filling all the vaults of that mysterious lower church with a voice even more impressively mysterious. I thought of you and longed for you to be there and hear. 214


We are returning for a fortnight and more to Florence before going to Venice. Senda sends her best remembrances. Ever yours B.B. » l. Attributed by BB later to the anonymous "Master of the Gardner Annunciation" until the

recent discovery of documents identified the artist as Piermatteo d' Amelia . The history and purchase of the painting by Colnaghi and BB is recorded in an amusing story in Samuels, pp. 253ff. »2. L. Duff-Gordon, The Story of Assisi (London, 1900). »3. "The luxuriant, wellwatered valley of the Clitumnus, whose herds of cattle are extolled by the ancient poets," in K . Baedeker, Handbook for Travellers: Central Italy and Rome (Leipzig, 1904), p. 77.

Dear Friend,

Rome, May

13, 1900

I was really delighted to hear from you, and to see that in spite of many disagreeable contrarities your soul enjoys its peace in the midst of your enchanting gardens. You manage to convey a great charm even in a hurried epistle. How I envy you your gift. Of course I am nearly heart broken over your impecuniousness. I am more keen than I can tell you to have the Fiorenzo enter your collection, and for that reason I have cabled to you today venturing to suggest that you buy the picture and pay at your convenience. Every now and then inquisitive people ask me "What is Mrs. Gardner's income." My invariable answer is "I do not know." And it is a fact. I am neither prying nor curious; I have not the remotest idea of what your income may be. I hope however that it is large enough for you to recover presently. We should be happy to wait three or even six months. Indeed this is a case where it really is worth while mortgaging the future. So I shall try my best to keep the picture at your disposal for another fortnight, and if even at the eleventh hour you will have the picture, cable YERENZO. I said I was neither prying nor curious, and I am just going to be both. I would very much like to know the history of your Mantegna, what collection it comes from, and of whom you bought it. You really would greatly oblige me by giving me this bit of information-and above all things please do not be cross over my asking. It is after all my business. I really do not understand what you say about Mrs. Ladenburg. Without being too rude, and making an unnecessary enemy-I have so many already-I could not get out of dining with her, but my second impression of her was worse even than the first. She is the kind of woman in whom I take no pleasure whatever. Oh, but I could tell you something about this dinner. Only il y a des choses que se disent bien ma is qui ne s) ecrivent jamais. Here I have met again two people who each in their way seem to me nice, Mrs. Maud Howe Elliott 1 and young Richard Norton. The latter seems to have become a splendid fellow, firm, incisive and with a fine dry humour. As for Mrs. Elliott my one wish for her is that she had plenty of money. 215


Poor lady she is one of the people who seems to regard me as omnipotent in the picture-buying ~.rorld. For her sake I wish I were. Please continue addressing to Florence and do write. My warmest good wishes from Yours ever B.B. 禄 r. Maud Howe Elliott (18 54-1948), author and close friend ofISG, was married to the painter

John Elliott (1858-1925). They were living in Rome when ISG visited in 1906.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. May 14 [ 1900]

I cannot wire an answer to your cable just received, because it is so difficult to concisely say what must be said. Thirty thousand dollars is so much money 路 for me that even with the future to pay in I cannot say Yes because it is so impossible to name a time when I shall be able to borrow enough to pay it. Certainly not before another whole year! Perhaps not then! This puts me in despair, because I have that photograph before me and I love the thing. What can be done? I envy you seeing the beautiful Rome, with your sister. Remember me to her, and write some consolation to Yours Isabella-

Dear Mrs. Gardner

3 Via Camerata, Florence May 18, 1900

I have not yet heard from you, and I should be beginning to be anxious about [it] if happily you were not a person to whom no harm could happen without its being soon heard of. I suspect a letter of yours may have failed to reach me, particularly as you still keep addressing me to S. Domenico, whereas my surest and safest address is simply 3 Via Camerata, Florence. There is little news except of the triumphant march throughout the land of Spring with poppies of all hues in her hair. It is a season of midday magic, delicious breezes with whiffs of heat that are delightful but yet as in the cub the roaring lion, let you foresee the raging glow of July. I am hard at work writing on Leonardo, the last chapter I shall do this season. I hope to have done it early in June, and then to go to Venice and rest my body and my eyes on something that is not Florentine. This season's work has told rather hard on me, and I fear I am little more than a wreck. But why tell you of this! I have had your Simones mended, all the blisters put down carefully, and now they will stand any journey. They really are gorgeous. I am going to bother you with a request. My friend Herbert Horne has for years been writing a book on Botticelli. 1 At last it is ready for the press, and it will be out in the autumn. It will contain thirty illustrations selected 216


from among Botticelli's best pictures. He is very eager to reproduce yours. Unfortunately none of the .existing photographs are good enough. So will you be so kind as to have a new photograph done? The negative should show the detail as clearly as possible, and the print should be very exact. The length of the negative should be about 9 1/2 inches. If you would do this as soon as convenient and send the print to Herbert Horne, Esq., 14 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London S. W you would greatly oblige me. An illustration of your Botticelli would honour Horne's book, as in its turn the book, I can safely promise, will honour the picture. Remember I count on seeing you in London about July l r. Meanwhile please address me to Baring Bros. London. Yours ever Bernhard Berenson ÂťI.

Alessandro Filipepi, Commonly Called Sandro Botticelli, Painter of Florence (London, 1908) .

Both of ISG's pictures are cited and illustrated.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. May 25 [ 1900]

Here I am writing to you, with one thousand things else to do! But your letter just come amused me very much, and made me laugh aloud; and called forth from Mrs. Monks (Olga Gardner) who was i.n the room, "Who is the amusing person who writes to you?!" 1 And just here a wire from Lambon (the French ambassador); and that answered, my mid-day breakfast announced. I do my morning's work after a cup of coffee al fresco-so, my letter to you is delayed. Part of my morning's work has been to try to induce two 9 days old fox terrier pups to open their eyes again. They did once; and then clapped them to, with a vim that seemed to say the box they found themselves in was not the ideal they had come to this world to see! So you sleep instead of looking at the Roman sights! You couldn't do that here, for it is too beautiful. You will have got, long before this, my letter telling my fears that there is no speedy possibility of paying for that picture. You see the way with my money is this-I had two fortunes-my own and Mr. Gardner's. Mine was for buying pictures, jewels, bric a brae etc etc. Mr. Gardner's was for household expenses. The income of mine was all very well until I began to buy big things. The purchase of Europa and the Bull was the lst time I had to dip into the capital. And since then, those times have steadily multiplied. Of course all that reduces the principal and therefore the income gets smaller and smaller and has very little chance to replenish the principal. Woe is me. The income from Mr. Gardner's fortune is about half what it was before his death, owing to the trustees' changing everything to perfectly sure investments that give very little return. So that for household expenses I am also 217


much cut down, and I have a hard time of it. All this is no secret, but I don't care particularly to tell my private affairs to those, whose business it is not. The outside world seems to have got an idea that I have millions. Everyday the post brings me eleven letters (that is the average) asking from $soo to $1,000. One day a cool million was asked for! As I can give one as well as the other, I can throw away every letter, and try to laugh at the daily plague. Probably much of the misunderstanding comes from the way I spend my money. I fancy I am the only living American who puts everything into works of art and music; I mean, instead of into show, and meat and drink. I wish they would understand, and leave me in peace. I am glad to hear from you that Maud Elliott is still handsome. What a miserable existence she leads. If that poor dead weight of a husband would only . It is a sad sight to see a woman on the make. When are you coming to America? Give my warmest greetings to your sister. Yours Isabella Mrs. George H. Monks (Olga Eliza Gardner) (1869-1944), the eldest daughter of George P. Gardner, was ISG's favorite niece. ÂťI.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. June 9 [ 1900]

I have just come in from town, where I wired to you YEFIORENZO. I find upon arrival here your letter, and I read with interest all you write about the picture, and fear my cablegram may be too late. I had a stormy interview with my business people this morning, and result was their consenting to borrow the money for me, hence my cable to you. If it was in time, tant mieux. My remembrances to your sister. I am beginning to feel that you are not coming to America ev. You will be sorry some day! Yours Isabella

Dear Friend,

Florence, Sunday, June ro,

1900

C'est l'imprevu qu'arrive toujours. I was just about to write to thank you for the perfectly charming letter in which you told me all about your circumstances. I understood so well, and as I am a person who quickly realizes difficulties and as quickly decides that they are insurmountable. I concluded that like me under similar embarrassments, you would give up the struggle to hold your place as the foremost collector of recent times. But how foolish it was of me to doubt for an instant but that where Isabella Gardner had a 218


will she surely would find a way. You have found a way and the Fiorenza is yours. And how lucky you are! Twenty-four hours later the picture would probably have been sold to Warren. Nay it would perhaps have been sold to him today but for his putting off coming for one day, as you will see from the telegram which for the fun of it I enclose. You see I had quite given you up, and delayed communicating with Warren because the Colnaghis, except to you, did not want to sell the picture just now. The price you are paying is at the very least three or four thousand pounds less than its market value will be in a few months. Let me explain. The war being over [in South Africa], and the [gold] mines safe people will be dying to buy. That they are so already is proved by what has just happened over the Panciatichi collection. As recently as a year ago they called me in to make valuations of the various pictures. They were nice odds and ends which I valued at r,ooo, 2,000, 3,000 lire and only one a Crivelli I thought might fetch 25,000 or a little over. Well, this Crivelli has an entirely new background-and in Crivelli the background is half of the whole-and is otherwise in bad condition. Nevertheless they have refused 70, ooo francs for it and want r oo, ooo. The other day a London friend of mine wired that if I approved he would pay 80,000. Of course I did not approve. The various odds and ends that I estimated at a couple of thousand lire have sold for forty and fifty, and sixty thousand. You will scarcely remember that two years ago I offered you two long cassone-panels with the story of Orpheus and Euridice, by a fellow-pupil of Botticelli's Jacopo del Sellaio. They were ascribed to Botticelli, were in perfect condition and yet I could have got them for you for ro,ooo lire. Out of the Panciatichi collection one only such cassone-panel, originally much less interesting, and now totally repainted sold [for] 50, ooo lire!!!* So you see where we are going, and I sincerely congratulate you on having got the Fiorenza for so little. In the two months or ten weeks that have elapsed the aspect of the picture market has, owing to the happy event in the Transvaal, and to other causes, entirely changed, and prices have gone up enormously. As it is a matter of business do not think me horrid if I add that none but the Colnaghis would still let you have it for the price first offered, seeing that in the meanwhile you have more than once refused it. But a truce to all this and to business. Your last letter has made me feel you to a singular degree as a friend. Without ever having known, or even inquired into your financial position I always more than suspected that you were really spending all your fortune on works of art. No other living person can claim such a title to glory. There are plenty who will relieve need, and found institutions of obvious good but man does not live by bread alone, and a collection like yours will one day have the refined and elevating effect that not one of our universities, at least as at present constituted, can hope to produce. Great shall be your reward; for centuries after the very names of your ridiculous and vulgar detractors will have perished, America will still thoroughly appreciate what you have done for her. 219


But I must make a sign against the evil eye, touch wood, or do something that will draw off the envy of the gods. We leave in a few days for Venice where unless scirocco stifles us we shall spend a month. Senda sends her best remembrances. I long for you two to know one another better. She constantly grows upon me, as she does here upon everyone whom she sees. Ever devotedly B.B. *A copy of your Chigi Botticelli-a poor copy at that!-was also sold for 50,000 francs. Please address after this to Baring Bros. London

Dear Berenson,

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. June l l [ l 900]

I have just got your cable, for which I am very glad-only a little frightened, I must confess about the money. I had such a trouble and row about the promise of it. I have already written (I think that will be better than speech) to ask them to send the equivalent of $30,000 to your account Earing's. How soon they will be able to do it I do not know! I fear you couldn't get anything off the $30,000. You will have got my letter telling you a little about my affairs; and you may begin to realize somewhat rny position. I am economizing (and must just to live) but it is very difficult. No one helps me, and every one seems to do what they can to add the hardness of my task. Hastily today, Yours Isabella

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. June 12 [ 1900]

This is the 3rd from me that you will receive presumably in one day! I want to ask you to write me a complete history of the provenance of the Fiorenzo-after and why it left Assisi. I want to know its business relations before coming to me. And will you add a few words of the history of Fiorenzo himself. What do you think of scarlet tanagers flitting about? There's glory for you! Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Venice. June

14, 1900

Three notes from you have come to charm me on successive days, each along with what business you had to talk of, conveying some of the delightful atmosphere of your personal mood. In the last note you ask me to tell

220


you the history of the picture you have just bought and something of its author, Fiorenzo. I have not known the Porziuncula at S. Maria degli Angeli before the Annunciation was hung upon it, so it never occurred to me to inquire whether or not it had always been there. Several years ago when on a visit to Assisi I noticed the picture had disappeared and made every inquiry as to what had become of it. Of course I could not find out, and concluded that this was yet another instance of the now happily rare disappearance of a picture from a church. I often speculated as to its fate, and regretted that I had not as much as a photograph of such a masterpiece. To my great surprise I heard last autumn from the Colnaghis that the picture was for sale. 1 So far as I understand it this is the story. The picture was the private property of one of the monks (How he came to it I have vainly tried to discover). In a fit of enthusiasm he dedicated it to the shrine, but legally it seems to have remained the private property of the community. At first they could have had no thought of selling. But one day they awoke to its value and thereupon took it down from the walls. They kept it hidden away at Assisi itself until as they supposed inquiries about it had ceased, or the state of the market was favourable. They then sold it to the Colnaghis who after many adventures some of them grim and other gay succeeded in carrying it safely to London. You were the first to whom it was offered. Even Warren knew nothing about it until I had given up all hopes of you. Now for Fiorenzo himself. He was a Perugian born in [ca.] 1440 who died in [1522/25]. His first master may have been a quaint and winsome painter of Foligno named Mezzastris, himself a pupil of Benozzo Gozzoli. Later Fiorenzo certainly went to Florence and studied under Pollaiuolo and Verrocchio, and it was while fresh from their influence that he must have painted the Annunciation now happily yours-a picture which but for its greater refinement and purity one ahnost would mistake, at first glance at least, for a Ghirlandaio. Most of Fiorenzo's life was passed at Perugia where he was a man of considerable importance as a citizen, and as a painter the master of Perugino and Pintoricchio. He still is best seen at Perugia, but even there you will not find a work quite up to the level of yours. Outside of Perugia and its immediate neighborhood he is seldom seen. The triptych in. the National Gallery is a poor work of his shop, and not at all his handiwork. At Frankfurt there is a nice little picture, and at Berlin a very good Madonna. That is really about all. If by a pleasant accident you have a copy of my Central Italian Painters by you, please read pages 87-90. For fear that you can't lay your hands on it I copy out what I said there about Fiorenzo and I am all the keener on your reading it because it was written several years ago when nothing was further from my mind than the thought that I ever should urge you to buy a picture of his:-[ Quotation omitted here.]

221


I am writing to Anderson of Rome2 to send you the photograph of the Fiorenzos at Perugia. I am sure I have tired you-I know I have tired myself with this interminable letter. We got here Monday and need I say are enjoying the everadorable Circe of Cities. We have rooms at the Palazzo Tiepolo, S. Toma, quiet at least, and spend the day sight-seeing and floating. You, as few others, know what it is. In the shops there is positively nothing except the 3 pretty little thing of which you were sent the photographs by Byard. I reproached Marini for asking me l 2, ooo lire for it, when he had offered it to you for lO,ooo lire. He swore that it was not so, that it is a total misunderstanding, that he never asked less than 20,000. Of course he is lying. The truth must be that he at first was willing to take much less, and seeing people were after it, has raised his price. On our way hither we spent two delightful days at Bologna, and made an excursion to a farnous, but most inaccessible church in the marshes by the sea between Ravenna and Ferrara. Torcello 4 will give you some idea of the general impression, but as a church it is of the finest, and covered within completely with great frescoes. Senda begs to be remembered. We remain here till July 15. Yours ever B. B. » r. In fact, BB told Colnaghi about it and participated in its purchase.

Anderson, a Roman dealer in photographs. » 3. Theodore Byard, English baritone, was a guest of ISG's in Venice and in Brookline. »4. Torcello Cathedral, on the island of Torcello. The church referred to is the monastery of Pomposa near Ferrara. »2.

Pride's Xing Mass. July 8 [1900] The hottest of Sundays-dear Berenson-I moved here 2 days ago and still confusion reigns. And it is terrific-the heat-through it all, and the dust. I drove this a.m. to Ipswich to be "Marraine" to Sybil Appleton-the babe of the Budd Appletons!1 And I am now bathed, but limp. I send this, to say that I have had to have another man put in charge of my own fast diminishing property, and he is arranging hard to send the money for the Fiorenza. It should be in Earing's hands in a week. Your letter came last night, and was delicious. Thanks. Yours Isabella »I.

The parents were Randolph and Helen Appleton. 222


Dear Mrs. Gardner

Promontogno, July

22, 1900

Here we are brands from the burning, safe at last altho' not yet at our destination which is S. Moritz. It has been unimaginably hot for ten days, and we were all the less ready to bear it, as for weeks before we had deliciously cool weather. Our last fortnight at Venice was perfect. There was moonlight, and more than once we floated out late at night to the Lido to spend an hour by the sounding shore. We stayed for el Redentor. 1 It was charming. The people certainly enjoy it. There were gondola-loads of populari so busy feasting and singing that they neither looked at the fireworks nor listened to the music. Thereupon came our heroic. week of broiling, and dutifully I showed Senda Castelfranco, Vicenza, Verona, Brescia and Bergamo. It was hasty, and hot, yet I wanted her to have at least a glimpse of the beautiful things they contain. The contrast of this coolness is unimaginable. Roasted yesterday, and this morning fanned by soft breezes, on a hill-top, under the fragrance of the whispering pine-trees that was the music played, and for libretto I had Midsummer Night)s Dream. One hour at least of perfect bliss scratched out of . . envious time. And now to my great piece of news! It concerns me only, yet I know it will not be without its interest to you. I am going to get married, and as you may imagine from what you know of me, and from what I told you three years ago, to no other than Mrs. Costelloe. Her husband died last autumn [22 December] most unexpectedly, and when the decent year is over we shall marry. I am ridiculously bashful about announcing it to any one, and in fact thus far I have written to none but my mother about it. I do not understand why I feel so. Perhaps it is that I had made up my mind to a continued bachelorhood, and tempered solitude. I confess I am somewhat frightened at the idea of living always under one roof with the same person, and of passing as somebody's husband. But I can find no objections save such silly ones to the arrangement. Since I poured out my heart to you about her three years ago, the lady has been getting more and more charming, more loving, more devoted. She understands me, my needs, my interests as no other person, and I am sure she will try to make me happy. Don't think me too stupid in writing thus coldly and shyly. But I am too shy to say anything more. I ask for your best wishes, and I need not add that my marriage can not possibly diminish any of my existing friendships. We are taking a house Settignano way snug and warm and at the very entrance to the most beautiful strip of rock and forest country that we have near Florence. I shall regret my present pretty rooms. One of the least bad firms of picture-dealers in London are Dowdeswell & Dowdeswell. Mr. Walter Dowdeswell of that firm is just going over to America. He begs me to introduce him to you. He is rather nice, and, so I

223


far as I know, straight and gentlemanly. So I am giving him an introduction to you. Please forgive me . If it bothers you, you need not receive him. But if I refused it, I should not only seem most ungracious, but incur the suspicion that I was afraid to have dealers meet you. Yours ever (even when married) B.B. » l. The Feast of the Redeemer is celebrated on

l

9 July in thanks for the end of the plague of

1577-

Massachusetts Fireproof Storage and Warehouse Company Huntington Avenue, Bryant and Parker Sts. Boston, Mass. Dear Berenson,

July 25 [1900]

I have this moment received a lot of photographs from Perugia. What are they? I write in great haste at the Storage WH. where I am storing some things· but my home is not here! Just briefly Pride's Xing until Sept 22. By the way don't think of the Albani Perugino for me-I don't want you to get it for me-really don't. It is so hot and scirocco, I am sticking to myself; which is not the sarne as "stuck on myself" in our American slang. Yours Isabella-

Dear Berenson

Beach Hill Pride's Crossing, Mass. July 29 [ 1900]

A little girl friend of mine Miss Molly Osgood 1 by name with a friend of hers (another girl) both about 22-are going to be in Florence for three months; beginning about the end of September-to study etc. They are poor and want to be in some quiet and cheap lodging. I wish they could be somewhere in Fiesole or Settignano. Something near enough to Florence to get in and out easily. You know Fiesole well, so I am writing to ask you if there is any place there. They would want a furnished room each, and board; and don't want to pay more than fr. 70 a week each. Of course as they are young girls they ought to be in a house where some older woman was in charge who was honest and respectable. Please let me know if there is such a place. It is blowing a gale and tosses the sea about like jewels. Yours Isabella The Crivelli photos have come-many thanks. » r. Molly Osgood of Boston later married Robert Erskine Childers (1870-1922), English

writer and politician. Author of The Riddle of the Sands (1903) and a volume of The Times History of the War in South Africa (1907), he served with distinction in both the Boer War and

224


World War I. Childers later devoted himself to the cause of Irish independence and joined the Republican Army. Captured by Free State soldiers, he was court-martialed and shot.

Beach Hill P. 0. Pride's Xing Beverly August 3, 1900 I have just got your letter, dear Berenson. All my good wishes go to you and to Mrs. Costelloe. I am very glad for every sake. It surely promises well. If you two can't be happy together, no one can. It has something the touch of being ideal. When will it happen-the wedding? I don't know when Mr. Costelloe died. I think it would be wise, from a worldly point of view, not to speak of it until just before the wedding. Have you got all my little letters lately? I am glad to have you say you will be none the less my friend; and I hope it-but I think there is sure to be a little difference. There always is. Perhaps, it may only be, that I will have two friends instead of one. SperiamoYours, with every good wish always, Isabella-

Dear Friend,

S. Moritz, Aug. 8,

1900

It is just a fortnight since we got here. I found a charming but too brief note from you, and from Earing's the statement that the money for the Fiorenzo had arrived. Many thanks for both. Here it has been cold, and singularly quiet almost dull. The hotels are crowded but with people I do not know, to a great extent our millionopotent countrymen. True there are many of my smart acquaintances but of the more stupid kind with whom I have small conversation. The others have thus far not come or are not coming. Camastra 1 arrived today and has just been to bring me the glad tidings that the Grazioli will be here in a day or two. The Rohan is expected on the l 5th. Her daughter Murat is already here, but as she devotes herself de coeur to that handsome idiot Lubersac 2 or others even duller, I see just enough of her to say "Bonjour." So I am living quietly, taking the baths every day, walking with my sister or with Placci, and in the evenings chatting with the Pallavicini and Prince Colonna. The Pallavicini to escape returning as is her duty to Italy for poor Humbert's funeraP has invented a bad knee. I forgive her. She grows on me. She is one of the many Italian ladies who without education and no intellectual interests yet are thoroughly entertaining and clever, witty, and even brilliant. I should add that the Pasolini has arrived. I have not yet seen her, nor shall I much. She gets on my nerves with her indis225


crimination, super-abundant energy, fundamental lack of intelligence, and her culture-snobbery. I much prefer her unpretending mother an old lady naturally grand-also here. I find time for reading, irresponsible reading, so that at last I have read a book which you I am sure know by heart, but which I had never had in my hands before. The book is Mme. de Lafayette's Princess de Cleves. 4 These were giantesses in France in the l 7th century. Never have I read another novel so exquisite, so high bred, so subtle, so delicate. All the French novels that have been written in this century are either direct imitations of that one-Bourget's particularly-or brutalizations of it. What an atrnosphere it has! I shall read it over and over again. I am reading a good deal of Shakespeare too. Every time I re-read him I find him more difficult to fathom. It is of course easy enough to get his drift. But to make sure that I miss no point of such a play as Lear takes more brains than I seem to possess. My friends are all wild about the art-treasures at the Exposition, so that I have made up my mind to go for a few days in September. Stia bene. Yours ever B.B. » 1. Octave, duke of Camastra (b . r 863), was a suitor of Gladys Deacon (r 88 r-1977), later duchess of Marlborough. »2. Jean, seventh marquis de Lubersac (b. 1849), suitor of Florence Baldwin (1859-1918) . »3. Umberto I (1844-1900), second king of Italy from 1878, »4. Comtesse Marie-Madeleine de La Fayette (1634-93), French was assassinated at Monza. novelist, published La Princesse de Cleves in 1678.

Dear Mrs. Gardner

S. Moritz, Aug. 8,

1900

Since writing and posting my letter a few hours ago I have received your note of July 25th. Perhaps the photographs you have received from Perugia are those after Fiorenzo di Lorenzo's paintings at Perugia which I ordered Anderson of Rome to send you. I note that you will not have the Albani Perugino, and will spare myself bothering you further on that score. It is charming this moment as I look out thro' the window over the velvet blue lake, the clouds rolling off from the peaks, and the timid but so welcome sunlight caressing the forest-dad slopes. I have just been hearing music. Why, on why will people sing things that are up to date or which show off their voices and their training instead of singing the real things in which every note is golden! Yours ever B.B.

Dear Friend,

S. Moritz Aug.

16, 1900

You are a sorceress; for you never fail to enchant me. What could be more perfect than the letter I have just received from you! Would you believe it, 226


you must for it is true, the only person whose approval or disapproval regarding my marriage was a question of serious interest to me is yourself. But please do not think that to me in any way I can conceive this marriage can make any difference in feeling toward you. It is not as if I were about to begin a new life with a new person who would be bound to cast shadows on the old friends. For ten years Mrs. Costelloe and I have been constantly together sharing every thought and nearly every feeling. Marriage can bring our minds and ways of feeling no nearer than they already are. So no surprises can be well expected. Besides-you would be surprised, and I hope not displeased to know how many hundred and even thousands of times I have talked of you to Mrs. Costelloe, and what a sincere and perfected worshipper she is of Isabella the Only. If you care for a friend, a woman incapable of jealousy, and all those kindred feelings which women seem peculiarly heir to, I can assure you, you will find one in her. She longs to know you, and I am impatient to have you meet her. Mr. Costelloe died last Nov. and we shall probably get married early in Dec. Meanwhile no stranger to my family e~cept yourself has heard of it, nor shall they, if my family can be discreet. I should not have minded delaying the event, but as both our houses have fallen in we had no choice but to take them on for three years, or give them up and take another-and this time, one for both. I look forward with zest to stepping out from the equivocal position which I have been in for years. I really can not be said to care much about public opinion, yet I have suffered more than I can tell you from the feeling that in certain things I could not be outspoken, that I and far worse, a person I loved was the subject of cheap and flimsy talk. As for the Miss Osgoods I can suggest to them two places out of town, the only ones I happen to know. One is the Villa Rosa where Mrs. Costelloe used to live, near the house where I had the pleasure of seeing you three路 years ag路o . It is now a pension, and apparently most respectable, and situated under the top of Fiesole. But should cold weather come on, I fear it would not be very comfortable. The other place is the Pensione le Lune at S. Gervasio, just above my present dwelling. That also leaves much to be desired in the way of comfort. The only place that would suit perfectly, and that I can thoroughly recommend is in town no. 22 Lungarno Acciajuoli, just over the Trinita bridge. It is kept by a very nice Italian woman named Paccini, and is just one apartment, consisting of two or three nice bed rooms and a nice sitting room. They, I mean the Miss Osgoods could hire the whole place, make a real home of it, pay for only such meals as they ordered, be free to invite friends, and in short be bothered with no one else. I do not know her exact charges but I am sure it would be well within 10 fr. a day each. The only drawback is the number of stairs, being the 4th floor, but young women should not mind that, and the reward is great, for from the windows you command the Arno up and down, and across the river you have the Boboli. 227


Perhaps the Miss Osgoods on arrival had better go to some well known hotel or pension. Then if they would write me a few days ahead, I'd go and help them find quarters. By Sept. 25, at the very latest I shall be in Florence again. Three weeks hence Senda sails home from Genoa. Then I shall run up to Paris for ten days to have the indispensable glimpse of the works of art. S. Moritz is no au grand complet. The dear Duchesse de Rohan arrived a day or two ago, but very sad, just having seen her son off for the wars in China. Lady de Grey 1 is here and most fascinating. She tells me such funny things about Mrs. Potter Palmer 2 who looks, and sounds a very ordinary person. Even that screaming Mme. Andre is here, very sweet to me now that she discovers that besides being an art-nigger, I have some acquaintances to whom she fain would toady. The snobbery of the place cries to heaven, and in a little, this, and the fabulous prices will make the place impossible for humble people like myself. When I come to stay with you, I shall have endless gossip for you! Most devotedly yours B.B. » l. Gladys, Lady de Grey, wife of the eldest son of the marquess of Ripon.

» 2. Bertha

Honore Palmer (1850-1918), famous Chicago hostess who bought and sold paintings and left some to the Chicago Art Institute, was the wife of Potter Palmer, Chicago real estate tycoon .

N ervi, Sept. 7, I 900 Dear Mrs. Gardner, Yesterday I saw my sister off from Genoa, and just now I have had a wire from Naples which she is glancing at. The separation was painful: I had got so used to having her with me all the time. The prospect of suddenly losing her again weighed upon me in such wise that the last few nights I no longer slept. I had intended going directly to Paris, but my friends the Gropallos happened by miracle to be in their villa at Nervi. So they came to see Senda off and then snatched me away to rest with them a couple of days. And here it is enchantment itself. The sea w·i th its sapphire glow all the livelong day, and its silver radiance under the full moonlight; the moan of the waves caressing the crags, and the incredible tropical foliage, the avenues and bouquet of palms. It is sacrilege to go to bed here. One feels like describing a vision. From St. Moritz we descended directly to Cadenabbia, and we spent a couple of days lunching and dining with friends who have villas on or very close to the lake. Then we visited two days with my friend Cagnola whose villa is by far the most splendid in the entire Varese region. He drove us to a favourite haunt of mine, Castiglione d'Olona. It is exquisitely situated on the heights over a rushing stream and green meadows. The churches are 228


Tuscan work of the early quattrocento, and inside they were frescoed by that first, that earliest of Renaissance painters, Masolino da Panicale. At Milan also Senda had a charming time. She saw all the sights, and some of the nicest people,-one of whom, Aldo Noseda, begged to be remembered to you-and now she is going home regretting no doubt the end of these six months, but full of wonderful memories and how grown! I do hope you will see her soon. You now will have so many more interests 1n common. The last few days at S. Moritz were the pleasantest. I saw a good deal of Harry Cust 1 (who had just arrived), a most brilliant and jovial creature. Lady Elcho, 2 on the other hand, of whom I had heard so much, disappointed rne. Tomorrow early I go to Paris. I shall spend ten days there seeing the art treasures of the exhibition. It is my duty to go, but I dread Paris enfete, and all its amateurs who bore me to extinction. It must be somewhat like this where you still are, at Beverly. The sea, pleasant breezes, great quiet, and much poetry. You must let me come and stay with you there some day soon. Yours ever B.B. Âť r. Henry John Cockyne Cust (1861-1917), member of Parliament, political journalist, and

editor of the Pall Mall Gazette from l 892 to l 896. A brilliant dashing figure who overindulged in wine and women, he is thought to have been Lady Diana Cooper's father. Âť2. Mary Wyndham (1861-1937) married Lord Elcho, later eleventh earl of Wemyss . Her charm and grace were famous and caused her to be the confidante of Prime Minister Balfour.

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. Oct. rst [ r 900] This perfect day ends, dear Berenson, and I come in doors tired with so much movement in the outer air. I find your little Paris letter, and am sorry for your cold, and sorry about the Exhibition, but glad you are going to Florence-and are there at this moment. When you get there (you are there) please do get me a piece of paper painted with the blue of Bardini's walls. You know you promised this before. I am working hard over my new house. If you ever come here perhaps you may see its walls that are slowly rising. And how it costs!* Good night Yours Isabella*And it is only of brick! 3 Via Camerata, Florence Oct. 8, 1900

I wonder, dear Friend, when I shall hear from you again. Two months have passed without as much as a word from you. How is life going with you, 229


and what are you busy about? How is the Isabella Gardner Museum in the Fens advancing? You know all these are points of great interest to me. As for me I have been back nearly a fortnight, trying hard to get to work again. I assure you it is not easy after a six months' interruption to gather the scattered threads again, and attempt to weave them into a web of fair seeming. Happily the threads are firm and strong. And for this I am thankful to the last seasons' work which I did well. There never was such another Augean stable to clean out as the mass of drawings ascribed to Michelangelo. Not one in a hundred proves to be really by him, and among those not his are some of the showiest. It goes even against my grain to give up some of these, and I know with what a howl of rage the publication of my results will be received. Meanwhile I work in the fair hope of completing by next June the task which has occupied me for so many years. When I returned it was stiflingly hot, and I feared I should lose thereby all the benefit of my summer outing. But now the weather is growing from day to day greatly cooler and fresher. There is a fresh delicious breeze, even now as I am writing, moving the tree-tops, and the whole world is sparkling. 1 All this time the villa is preparing for our reception as a married couple. The spot is charming, and with time and taste we hope to make a real home of it. One of my hopes is to receive you there as a guest some day. That would be such a pleasure to me-and I flatter myself we can make you comfortable. You scarcely have an idea what a paradise are the environs of Florence. A man named Douglas 2 has just brought out a book on Fra Angelico, in which he reproduces and speaks much of your picture. He had the photograph of it from the Colnaghis long before there was a thought of you getting it. For it is a picture which, as I told you at the time, changed hands several times, altho' rapidly, before coming to you. Let me hear from you soon, and believe me Always devotedly yours B.B. Âť r. He refers to Villa I Tatti, where BB lived until his death in 1959, absent only for two years

during World War I and one year during World War II. Âť2. Robert Langton Douglas (18641951), English historian, art expert, and director of the National Gallery of Ireland, 1916-23, was a longtime rival of BB. BB considered him a protege until Douglas, stung by a remark BB made on his connoisseurship, became his bitter enemy. In Fra Angelico (London, 1900), Douglas did not give BB the credit that the latter believed was his due.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Oct. I 6, I 900

I was most sincerely pleased to hear from you again, after so long a silence-even tho' you mildly scolded me for not having gotten you a sample of Bardini's blue. The truth is that when you wrote about it last year, I saw 230


Bardini about it directly. He solemnly assured me he would send it [to] you in a day or two. As I took him at his word I was perfectly at peace. This time I went down and reproached him. He was profuse in apologies, and to make sur_e that now you really got it, I told him to give it to me. I enclose it, the sample, and with it the receipt for preparing it. It is very gently growing autumnal. When in the morning my windows are thrown wide open, I feel more and more of a nip in the air. Here in the Panciatichi collection there was a copy, a stupid copy of your Chigi Botticelli. I told you last spring that Agnew bought it for 40,000 francs. I hear now that they have sold this paltry copy as an original for ÂŁ8,ooo. 1 That's the way to do it. This must be a brief note. I shall write again soon, and perhaps about a little picture you will be glad to hear of. Yours ever B. B. Âť r. The location of the Chigi Botticelli copy is now not known. It was formerly in the Benson,

Yerkes, and Widener collections.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Oct. 25, 1900

I told you in my last note that I hoped soon to write to you of a picture. That it is important you may infer from the fact that I have seldom urged you to get others, and least of all since you have been able to buy less. Indeed it is of the utmost importance for it is nothing more nor less than a Raphael I propose to you this time. Let me say at once that it is not a Madonna, but then the price as you shall see is not what would be asked for a Madonna. I enclose a photograph, unhappily a caricature. Being a jewel of the most exquisite delicacy no photograph could do it the slightest justice, and least of all the one I enclose which is the exact size of the original. Now photographs that are the exact size of an original have an advantage in that they show you every touch as the picture itself would, but have the immense disadvantage, caused by the actinic rays of coarsening the outlines and blackening the shadows. I have wired for a smaller photograph, but as there is not a moment to delay, I must send you this one, begging you to make every allowance, and to use your imagination. As you see this little Pieta shows us Raphael at that exquisite moment when he was still searching, still almost a Perugino. Indeed the little picture but for its childlike delicacy, and sweet shyness might be Perugino's. So golden clear is the colour, so dainty the feathery trees. The subject scarcely could have been treated in a gentler, more hushed, deeper spirit. The almost boyish touch has the greatest fascination. In a word the little picture puts you in a mood as if somewhere far away, and yet within hearing you suddenly heard angels play on their stringed instruments. 231


This little Pieta originally formed part of the predella for the S. Antonio altar at Perugia painted in r 505. 1 This you must know is the picture known as the "King of Naples" Raphael, which was offered you several years ago and which I advised you not to buy. For the altar-piece was never entirely from Raphael's own hand, and now entirely repainted. The other parts of the predella are not all Raphael's own, nor in good condition. It is my firm conviction that the Pieta is absolutely in every touch Raphael's and it certainly is in perfect preservation. I am not given to incline to the opinions of others, yet where they agree with me, and happen to be great authorities, it is a pleasure to let them speak for me. So listen to what those Popes of Art, Crowe and Cavalcaselle in their Raphael say about this little Pieta. "The delicacy of the sentiment, and the sweetness of the tone reveal the hand of Raphael." In a note they add:-"Beautiful are the head and torso of the Saviour. The colour is rich and harmonious; the preservation of the whole is excellent." 2 The history of this little predella is known from the day it left Raphael's hand ~o this day that I am writing. It was sold by the nuns of S. Antonio on June 7, r 66 3 to no less a person than the erratic, gorgeous Queen Christina of Sweden, 3 who had finer taste than any other person of her time. On the sale of her collection they passed into the famous Orleans Gallery, and in r 798 were sold in London with the rest of that renowned collection. So you see it is a Raphael of exquisite quality of finest Umbrian feeling, of unquestionable authenticity, of perfect preservation, and with an almost matchless pedigree. The price is five thousand pounds (£5,000) tutto compreso. To give you some idea how reasonable, nay how cheap it is let me tell you that some thirty years ago the Conestabile Madonna was bought by the Czar for £20,000, and that some twenty years ago the Due d' Aumale paid £24,000 for the Three Graces-both pictures even smaller than this. And you must remember that in the last 30 years Italian pictures have tripled and quadrupled in value. It may be objected that those pictures are most attractive as subjects. I will not deny that for the vulgar this may be so, but scarcely so for you and me who can distinguish the great quality of a work of art apart from its subject. Moreover thanks to this feeling of the vulgar, you can get the little gem for £5,000, and not for £50,000 which to say the least would be the present price of the others. I need say no more. There will be no other chance in our life-times if ever to acquire a first-rate Raphael, at such a price. Unfortunately I have not been able to extort from the owners the promise to reserve it. Indeed it was toil enough to induce them to let me give you the first offer. So I can not guarantee that even when this reaches you the picture will still be for sale. I will do my best, but do you please lose no

232


time, and if you want the little picture cable-Berenson, Fiesole, Italy, YEPHAEL. 4

I shall pray that your heart be inclined, and your purse filled for this purchase. Yours ever B.B. » l. The central panel and another predella panel are in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

»2. BB quotes from]. A. Crowe and G. B . Cavalcaselle, Raphael (London, 1882-85) , 1:236, 238. »3. Queen Christina of Sweden (1626-89) reigned from 1644 to 1654. »4. ISG pur-

chased the Raphael Pieta from P. D. Colnaghi.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. Oct. 27 [ 1900]

The blue and your kind little letter have just co1ne. I wonder if that beast dealer who had my Chigi Botticelli in London has leaked and bragged. My footsteps are dogged by reporters; and carry newspaper full of it[?]. I enclose one clipping. . Is the piece of blue like the colour on the Bardini walls. Did you compare them? In case you have not, will you kindly do so. I enclose a piece. The important [thing] is to get the tint exactly. That sister of yours is a charmer. Yours Isabella

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. November 7 [ l 900]

I am cabling YEPHAEL, but in fear and trembling. My trustee may kill me! Please, if you get the picture for me, tell me if the £ 5, ooo should go to Earing's for you. You say the picture's history is traced to today. But you do not tell me what happened after it was sold in London with the rest of the Orleans collection in 1798. Please give me every step, and say from whom you buy it for me. Also, can it be sent to me smuggled, do you think, so that I may get it here now, as soon as possible without any duties? Do think of someone sure. Let me know. Good night. It is like a summer day and is ending with a thunder shower! Yours Isabella What is the wedding day?

233


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence [November r 900]

Just too late for an answer by the last post came your note asking me about Bardini's blue and about your Chigi Botticelli. Yesterday your welcome cable to tell me you would take the little Raphael. Upon this I heartily congratulate you. As for Bardini's blue the sample and receipt I sent you are the exact shade on his walls. Curiously enough a day before your last note reached me, I received a letter from the Colnaghis in which occurs the following passage. "Have you read all the reports re the trial of poor Chigi? 1 There have been a great many notices-accurate as well as fantastic-in the English press and we are becoming quite famous. Do you think Mrs. Gardner would consent to let us exhibit the picture for a week or a fortnight by and by-in her name if she likes, or without any owner's name just as she pleases?" Nobody seems to know where it is, and if people ask us if it is in America we say no naturally, and so nobody is able to make head or tail of it." Knowing how little you would be inclined to favour the Colnaghis I was going to say nothing of their request to you, but I quote it as furnishing a complete answer to your question. And would you really not relent to them, and do what to them would be a great favour? They deserve it richly. Without them my best efforts would not have brought you half the things you now possess. Of course they would send a man to take the picture from Paris, and then to bring it back, and insure it of course at any figure you would like for the time it was in their charge. It would be an immense card for them. No, the truth is the picture has excited the whole civilized world, and the press of every great town has attributed its possession to one of its own local collectors. It is natural that you also should have been thought of. Nay I am mortified to realize in this connection how little my books are read, for in the second edition of my Florentine Painters published more than a year ago, I inserted this picture as yours. Of course I did not say it was the Chigi Botticelli; but from the few words of description any intelligent person could infer the picture was now yours. I always hitherto have entered your acquisition at the first opportunity into my books, and as this has been now going on for five years I could not imagine you would object. If for the future you had rather I should not, it is for you to say-altho' I hope you won't say no. So if the fault is anyone's you see it is mine. Senda tells me you would like some wild tulips. So I have hastened to send you by parcel post as many as the advanced season enabled me to pick up, and I enclose a description made out by my dear friend, the famous Mrs. Janet Ross 2 to enable you to identify them. Try to remember next year to let me know earlier in the autumn whether you like them and want more, 234


and I shall send you a splendid variety. I am working too hard, and am tired but the fit is upon me. Yours ever B.B. » l. Prince Chigi was fined by the government for the amount he had received, but a court of

appeals reduced the fine to twenty thousand lire, and it was reported that in another judgment the fine was further reduced to ten lire. »2. Janet Duff-Gordon Ross (1842-1927) (widow of Henry Ross), writer and translator and neighbor of the Berensons at Villa Poggio Gherardo.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

3 Via Camerata, Florence Nov. 19, 1900

Many thanks for the £5,000 for the Raphael which the Barings write me they have received. I enclose the photographs of two Florentine portraits, which as the prices are modest, and Florentine portraits so very rare, I can heartily recommend you to purchase. 1 The more important is a more than half length figure of a lady seated by that rare master whom Morelli brought into great vogue, Bacchiacca. His portraits are exceedingly rare, and this is by far the finest of them. In colouring it is most exquisite, mauves and reds and green, of a transparency and purity that Catena or Andrea del Sarto himself might have envied. It is in miraculous preservation as the network of fine cracks which even the photographs reveal will tell you. It is in a fine contemporary frame. The price is five hundred pounds (£500). Life size. The other is the bust of a Medici infant, child of Cosimo the first Grand Duke. It is a winning pathetic thing. That also is life-size, and in an excellent contemporary frame. The price is only one hundred pounds (£100). Please decide and let me know; and if you want to make perfectly sure of getting them cable Y ACCA, or YEZINO, or both. And if you do not want them please return the photographs. I have met your friend Captain Jephson, a most enchanting person, whose friendship and devotion to you I envy you for. I expect him to tea today. Yours ever B.B. We are having such weather! So are you I hope. Lady with a Nosegay was purchased from Carlo Cappoli, Florence. The Bronzino has not been identified. » l. Bacchiacca's

November 26 [ l 900] A thousand thanks for the bulbs. You are too kind. Please, do not work yourself to death. For the present at least-No-No-No to Colnaghi! And thanks for again bothering about the Bardini walls. I remember them so much lighter. 235


I don't mind your putting my pictures in your catalogues, for people don't really put 2 and 2 together ever. It was Senda who suggested I should have Florentine tulips. I should never have thought of asking you. Always yours, very hastily now Isabella

[Letter fragment.] This is perhaps the last letter I shall write to you from these diggings which have grown so dear to me. In a few days I leave them, and until the wedding-day Dec. 20, shall stay with my dear friends, the Rosses. My new address for telegrams as well as letters is, Settignano, Florence. We have been seeing a fair deal of Jephson who is a fascination, but not over fortunate, and I fear not very happy. He is I fancy more of a lady's than a man's man, so that he has already made great friends with Mrs. Costelloe. We hope in the future to get him to stay with us often. I am almost finishing my section on Michelangelo, over which there is great rejoicing on my part. Good-bye, dear Friend. Yours ever devotedly B.B. P. S. Agnew has sold the stupid copy of your Chigi Botticelli for Yerkes of Chicago!!!1

£10,000

to

Charles Tyson Yerkes (1837-1905), American industrialist. His collection was sold at auction by the American Art Association, New York City, 5-8 April l9ro. »I.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Dec. 3,

1900

Yes, as I wrote you in my last letter, Yerkes has bought from Agnew's for £10,000 a wretched but old copy after the Chigi Botticelli. So there is one in America. But please have no fears that any serious person will ever mistake that for the original. Or if you have the slightest nervousness on that subject, do allow the Colnaghis to exhibit yours. This would settle the business for ever-and might have the further effect of discouraging our overrich countrymen from buying pictures without first making sure that they were what they were given out to be. Just as I was leaving my own quarters for good came a note from the Miss Osgood whom you asked me to look out for. The note produced on me the impression that it was sent up for your sake. I am sorry it came so late, for until my wedding I am homeless. I am now the guest of Mrs. Ross. I have been seeing more of Jephson. He is thoroughly run down, and I fear in no good way. He has taken a great fancy to Mrs. Costelloe, and she to him. I leave them a great [deal?] together, and he has put off leaving Florence again and again. I wish all were well with him.


I am trying hard to contrive a means of getting the little picture over to you, but no safe way easily suggests itself. Yours ever B. B.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. December 4 [I 900]

I have just received your letter and the photographs. I write instead of cabling, because I am not sure I want either of the pictures. The photographs, I know often give a very wrong idea; so I don't know which is the better of the two pictures, and I don't feel sure that it is not wiser to get neither; for the reason that there is only a certain amount of room in any house; mine, even my new one, will be crammed-and I think perhaps it is best to get nothing more ever, but A No. 1. But I have absolute faith in your judgment and as neither of these is for an enormous price, I want to consult you before deciding. What do you think best? I am so glad you like Jephson. He is such a dear friend. I wish I could see him. I envy Florence having him there. Hastily yours Isabella S. Gardner

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Settignano, Florence Dec. 16, 1900

I can most sincerely urge you to get the Bacchiacca portrait of a lady. It is not a Titian or a Velasquez, but my ideal for you is that you should have a collection not only of masterpieces of the highest order, but some also which are indispensable to a notion of the life of each school of art. Now the portrait in question is really a most beautiful piece of painting, of exquisite, light transparent colour, and of matchless preservation. It is besides a highly representative work of the last great phase of the Florentine School. The price is really modest, so that all in all I think you should take it. I will try to keep it reserved for you until you answer. If you do decide to have it please send the cheque at once. I return the two illustrations. The altar-piece was by Lotto, but as I already have said of it in my book, there is nothing but the composition now left in the picture. Every bit of the old paint has been scraped away and replaced with new. The Guardi I should not advise you to take seeing you already own a much better picture by the same master. At last I have met Miss Osgood, and really like her very much. She is smart, modest, a lady, and what recommends her greatly to me, she is fond of pretty things. I look forward to seeing more of her after the wedding. This great event is finally all arranged for. The civil marriage on the 237


27th, 10 am in the Palazzo Vecchio; the religious, in our own chapel on the 29th. Please return the photo of the Bronzino. It is charming and quaint, but as you already have a very good Bronzino I can not urge you to get this fresh one. With the very best wishes for a Happy New Year. Yours ever B.B.

52 Beacon Street December I 8, 1900 I

Dear Berenson

This goes to the old address because I do not know the new one-but too late I fear to give you my best wishes, and "a Merrie Xmas." Don't be sorry you can't do for Miss Osgood; only, if you see her, tell her why. Poor dear Jephson. Give him my love and bring him over with you next summer, for you two are coming then! I have just moved to town and am very busy-up to the eyes. So goodbye-P. T. 0. Yours Isabella P. S. Tell Jephson his photograph is before me as I write.

52 Beacon Street December 3 I, 1900 I

Dear Berenson

The year has nearly gone. It is eleven o'clock. Before the new year comes I send you a greeting, and good wishes-and to your wife too I send them. May all happiness be yours. At midnight the trumpets are to sound on the steps of the State House; dear Edward Everett Hale 1 is to make a prayer. I shall go up there in half an hour. But it all makes me terribly sad. May the New Year make us, as a nation, kinder, better and more generous to those who are weaker than we. And may it make us as individuals the same. I didn't mean to say this when I began, only to wish you both joy and happiness. Lovingly yours Isabella S. Gardner Âť r. Edward Everett Hale (r 822-1909), Unitarian minister and author. His statue stands in the

Boston Public Garden.


!Eait III

1901-1915


M5 &M+路

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Fenway Court, begun in 1899, was marked by a historic opening on the night of l January 1903. During Mrs. Gardner's lifetime the museum was opened each year for two weeks, spring and fall, with a daily admittance of two hundred; tickets were one dollar each, sold in advance. Before long, Mrs. Gardner came to loathe public days, preferring her private entertainments or an occasional opening for charity. In 1904 customs officials d'""e clared that the museum was more private than public and sent her a bill.for $200,000 for importing works of art. Mrs. Gardner paid rather than allow others to interfere. When, in 1908, a friend smuggled in works of art belonging to Mrs. Gardner, presumably without her knowledge, she paid another fine and duties totaling $150,000. The next year Congress removed the duty on importing works of art. Mrs. Gardner went to Europe for the last time in 1906 and was a guest at Villa I Tatti. In Paris., London, and Madrid she -looked at museums with a professional eye. She was a member of the committee for the new Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and her circle of friends had expanded to include a group of young men on the staff there. She was soon in the thick of the fight over plaster casts (of great sculpture) favored by the director, Edward Robinson, and disdained by Mrs. Gardner and the assistant director, Matthew Prichard. Both men were gone by the time the new building was finished, but Mrs. Gardner's allies had won. She also favored a group of bachelors at Eastern Point in Gloucester, where she was a frequent and popular visitor. The Berensons returned to America in 1903, 1908, 1913, and 1920. BerC(;;HE

COMPLETION

OF


enson's delight in Fenway Court, recorded in Mary's diary, was tempered by the appearance of paintings for which he was not responsible and which he deemed unworthy. Mary's initial reaction on meeting Mrs. Gardner was exhaustion; she characterized her as dominating conversation, which concerned mostly herself. From another, later entry in Mary's diary at the time of their next meeting in 1908, it seems that Mrs. Gardner had come under the spell of Okakura-Kakuzo, curator of Oriental art and adviser to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Through his influence, she reported that she had found peace of mind and had abandoned her selfish ways. Okakura revived her early interest in the art of the Far East, and during her renovations of 1914-16 she bought, through Berenson, her best Oriental objects. Berenson was also buying Oriental objects and his collection, although small, is thought to be one of the best in Italy. He continued his habit of visiting London, Paris, and Saint Moritz and traveled in France with his new friends Edith Wharton and Elsie de Wolfe. Few paintings offered to Mrs. Gardner were now accepted, but those he persuaded her to buy were important additions. His association with Duveen provided enough income to buy I Tatti and add a library wing. It was perhaps the most productive time of his life, and with Mary's help he managed a steady flow of publications. These were the last busy years for Mrs. Gardner, and she lived them in full stride right up to the war. Additions to the collection after 1903, including ten Brussels tapestries, forced her to consider changes to Fenway Court. In 1914 the two-story Music Room was converted into three new galleries on the first floor, and the Tapestry Room, large enough for concerts, on the second floor. She was not unmindful of the war but stood apart from fervent patriotism. When it was over, nothing in her life was quite the same again.


[I Tatti] Jan.

l, 1901

A Happy New Year, and New Century, and may you live on and on to see its now faint crescent increased to the full. The first letter I write in this new century, and the first as a married man is to you. The wedding passed off with less annoyance than I dared hope. It took place in the chapel of our villa, and was over in about five minutes altho' we did have two priests to officiate, both of us you see being nominal Catholics. After the breakfast Buonamici played to us divinely. Have you ever heard him? In his own way he almost is unrivalled. The civil marriage two days earlier was more elaborate. It was at the Palazzo Vecchio. We were the first, and were to be followed by a peasant couple. Two clerks with their noses on the paper kept writing for half an hour. Then an usher came dnd commanded us to get up whereupon entered in evening dress but with a red white and green sash a man who had no cheek on one side and a monstrous pouch on the other. When he opened his mouth out came a sound such as one hears from a bladder-whistle. Mary heard yesterday from Jephson. He is staying with Mme de Noailles, 1 and does not seem to enjoy it very much. He was horrid enough to tell us we should have delayed our marriage until Apr. r. Nevertheless I should not be surprised if he soon followed my example. I will send on your messages to him. yours ever devotedly B.B. Âť r. Countess Ann Elisabeth Mathieu de Noailles, princess Brancovan (r 876-193 3), novelist

and poet.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[I Tatti] Jan. 7 [1901]

I am sending you the photograph of a most exquisitely painted portrait of a lovely youth. 1 If you remember the portrait that Agnew once tried to sell you, you will see that this is no less attractive, and I can assure you that over Agnew's this has the great advantage that it is perfectly preserved, has instead of a black background, a romantic landscape, and is most gorgeous in colour, the doublet being of buff-gold brocade, and velvet. But as I am not Agnew I will not baptize this portrait as Raphael and tell you that you must pay ÂŁ2 l, ooo. And I forget still another advantage this portrait has over that. It is known who the personage was. He was a Pepoli, and this portrait has left his family at Bologna where it always remained, only a few days ago. The Pepolis you must know were great swells. In the beginning of l 800 [nineteenth century] one of them for instance married a sister of Napoleon's. 2 243


As I have said I do not call this picture a Raphael for I know and can prove that it is by Boltraffio. Moreover it is known that Boltraffio about l 502 made a stay at Bologna, so that we even can fix the date of the painting. Boltraffio as you know was the ablest of Leonardo's pupils, and it was he who painted some of the best things still attributed to Leonardo, as for instance the Belle Ferronniere of the Louvre. 3 If you look at the landscape in the photograph I am sending you will note how like it is in many respects to Leonardo's landscapes, in The Madonna with St. Anne for instance. In the cap you will notice a medallion and in it a device, all de rigeur in a North Italian gentleman's attire at the beginning of the sixteenth century. You must not be frightened about the price. I will not say what Agnew would charge for such a portrait, but I doubt whether any London or Paris dealer who respects himself would let it go for less than £5,000. Well, I can get this for you for £1,050 (one thousand and fifty pounds) which modest price includes everything. So pray let me know whether you will have it, cabling YAFFIO if you will to Berenson Settignano, Florence. I have met Miss Osgood and find her very sweet. She came two days ago with her father and friend to lunch and we both liked them all and enjoyed them. I hope to see them a good bit. It is bitter cold, so that the waterpipes are frozen. Think of that for

Florence. Placci asks to be remembered to you. » r. Boltraffio's

Yours ever

B.B.

Portrait of a Youth went to John G. Johnson in 1909 and is now in the Johnson

Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art. »2. The Pepoli were a distinguished noble family of Bologna whose members led the Guelph party and ruled Bologna in the fourteenth century and whose descendants in the nineteenth century included Gioacchino Napoleone (1825-8 l), grandson of Murat and prominent statesman and government official. »3. La Belle Ferronniere; BB changed his mind in 1914 and published it thereafter as the work of Leonardo. See MB to ISG, ro September 1923.

52 Beacon Street January 14 [ 1901]

l

Dear Berenson

Your kind letter came this morning. It pleased me much to be written to by you first of all, after your wedding. May that bring great happiness to you both. I am really distressed to hear poor Jephson still bemoans himself. Whom will he marry? Is it still the same old story? I cannot answer yet a propos of the pictures, because I can't find the money! Do come to America you two. Greet Madame for me. Yours Isabella 244


[I Tatti] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Jan.

16, 1901

I have been wondering why I did not hear from you about the shipment of your little picture now in London. A letter just received from Senda may offer an explanation for it tells me to my surprise that you have brought over your Fiorenza, and to my consternation that this masterpiece already has suffered greatly from the American climate. Now, why in the world did you not tell me that you meant to have the Fiorenza brought over at once. More than one bad experience with pictures I have sent over to friends has warned me not to let panel-pictures go to America without first carefully examining their fitness to resist that climate, so singularly hostile to Italian wood. Some panels need cradling only, and that I understand can be done as well there as here. Others need the more drastic but perfectly sure remedy of transference to canvas. To give you an idea of how safe and how common this process is I can assure you that hundreds of the greatest pictures now in the European museums have been thus transferred to canvas. If therefore I had known that you meant to have the Fiorenza over I should have insisted upon your first submitting it to an expert in Paris where of all places they best understand the mere hygiene of old wood. As this panel is very thick and over four centuries old, it is likely to be in very friable condition, and little able to resist the cutting Boston air, and the warm temperature of a dwelling house. The remedy would have been one which they daily carry out to perfection in Paris, namely to transfer it to canvas. Let me tell you what happened to Davis. I got him seven years ago an exquisite little Nativity by Garofalo. 1 Soon afterwards he had it exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. There they put it over a register with .t he result that the tempera began to come off like shavings. You never saw a more pitiable sight. Davis was in blank despair, and I with him. But he packed the thing off to Paris, there had it transferred to canvas, and now you can not possibly tell that it ever was in anyway in danger. I hope your Fiorenza is in nothing like so bad a condition, yet I would urge you to submit it to the same process. But have you in America a person who really can carry it out? If not there remains but one of two things to do, either to send it back to Paris or to get over a man from Paris. Sending it back would be the simpler, as good French workmen can not easily be induced to leave the boulevards, if you can arrange, as surely there must be a way of arranging with our government to have it come back duty free. In any event please do not be too much upset. The mischief is nothing like so great as it seems, and really is remediable. So do not on account of this experience hesitate to have the little Pieta over. I will take care that it is properly cradled before sent you. 245


The Florentine portrait of a lady by Bacchiacca which I have been urging you to buy and about which I have not yet heard from you is beautifully cradled and would, I can guarantee, resist the American clirnate perfectly. Our perfect weather continues. Yours ever B.B. The Nativity is now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art as The Adoration of the Sh epherds by L'Ortolano, an attribution that BB made in 1907 in North Italian Painters of the R enaissance. ÂťI.

52 Beacon Street Jan. 20, 1901

l

Dear Berenson

I have to write instead of cable in order to explain. You see it is always Question d'Argent. Do you advise me to get the Boltraffio instead of the Lady you told me about before? I can't have both. But if you think I would do better to have the Boltraffio, cable Boltraffio-if better the Lady, cable Lady. Then I will try my best for one of them. I am in a very tight box. Does the sun shine and are you both happy? If so, after all that's enough. Only come here. Yours Isabella-

l

Dear Berenson

52 Beacon Street Jan. 31 [1901]

I have the grippe and am in bed, and so must write in pencil-only to say send the little Raphael to Robert, 30 rue Joubert, Paris. The transferring turns out absolutely unsatisfactory when the pictures are once here. They show it, and are bad-vide Davis's! Also cradling is bad. There is only one thing; not to buy the panels that have been in very damp places. There is only one satisfactory thing to be done for reasonably good panels-that is to cover the backs properly. My Masaccio had been done so abroad. So send the little Raphael to Robert subito, subito. Don't ever have the grippe. It is the devil. I can't write more. Yours Isabella

[I Tatti] Dear Friend,

Feb. 3, 1901

It was very sweet to hear from you. Of Jephson we have had no news of late. If he is sensible he will marry the girl who seems in love with him,


and whose mother seems very eager for the match. He did not tell us the name, and of course we did not ask, but she is the daughter of a lord, and will have excellent settlements. As of all fascinating people, we hear the most conflicting accounts of Jephson, but he is charming and winning. 1 Why ask further? We have of late been seeing quite a little of your young friend Miss Osgood. She is a very sweet creature, affectionate, and even clever. Of course she is quite immersed in that "invisible harem" wherein our American civilization conspires to coop up young women. I am not sure but that such a hedging and fencing about is a very good thing, and evc-n if I thought otherwise I would not open the door for her. She generally comes up Saturdays when my wife gathers together a number of people, who all combine to pay an excellent pianist, a certain Miss Cracroft, to play Bach. This is such a treat! We have for weeks been going through the Christmas Oratorio. You know it well I am sure, and can imagine our delight. At this very moment I have received your note to Jephson, which I am forwarding, and your letter leaving to me the hard choice to decide for you between the Boltraffio and Bacchiacca Lady. It is a thousand pities you can't have both, but if one only, I must decide upon the Lady. She is more for the money, cheap as the Boltraffio really is, and harder to find. So I am cabling "Lady," hoping you will not find it too hard to raise the money. This letter which began as a friendly one only, has degenerated into business. With Miss Osgood I talk a great deal of you for the pure pleasure of it, and my wife joins in to listen, always fascinated with everything concerning "Queen Isabella." We feel such a relief having decided today to give up a scheme we had cherished of spending March in Sicily. We can afford neither the time nor the money. I am hard at work and ask only not to be hurried. Good-bye, dear Friend. It is always a pleasure to write to you. Yours ever B.B. Âť r. Jephson married Anna Head, daughter of Addison Head of San Francisco, in 1904.

Dear Berenson

February 15 [1901]

What think you? I have used all my decent letter paper writing business letters. (Woe is me!) And I can't afford to buy any more! So I wrote on this inadequate scrap to say that I have just received a quite dear letter from you. Don't get too tired with your work. Listen to the Bach a little for me. 247


Be nice to Molly, and don't open any doors for her!!!!! Don't advise Jephson to marry. He wouldn't be happy-and he is quite the dearest of dears all the same. And buy the Lady for me, for as little as you can. Tell me how much it must be!-also the provenance of it. I have been unpacking the Bellano [now Minelli] Pieta. Do you remember. It is wonderful. I want to see you and your wife at Brookline. Greet her for me. Yours Isabella This note sounds like short sentences for beginners!

[I Tatti] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

February

16, 1901

I fear that I shall be either tantalizing or boring you by talking of yet another picture to buy. Yet I must run even this risk, and at least submit the case to you. Il s'agit of a small panel, the exact size of the photograph which I am sending rolled up separately. It is by Francesco Francia, and represents the dead Saviour with His Mother standing behind Him, looking up with a gesture of sublime pathos, while the Magdalen embraces His feet, and Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are at His head. 1 It is a work remarkable as feeling, and remarkable as a composition. In every way it would accompany and enhance the little Raphael Pieta of yours. Not only are they of the same size, but singularly alike in sentiment. And for a good reason as you must know, for Francia was in art Raphael's grandfather, the latter's master Timoteo Viti having been Francia's pupil. Then there is a deservedly famous engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi representing the Pieta. You will find it reproduced in Delaborde's Marc-Antoine Raimondi opposite p. 106. 2 This engraving always passes as having been made after a drawing by Raphael, and the very drawing is pointed out. It is in the Louvre, and I am sending you a photograph of it. But in reality this drawing and the engraving made from it are by the same artist, that is to say by Marcantonio who also was first a pupil of Francia's. Later he became the follower and you might almost say the publisher of Raphael's works, so that he translated everything into Raphaelesque forms. You now will understand why this drawing is so Raphaelesque, altho' in reality it is but a slightly varied copy of the two principal figures in the Francia I am offering you for sale. Francia treated the same subject yet another time in a somewhat similar way, as you will see from the photograph I am adding of the original at Turin. But the example I am offering you has every advantage over that. In the first place it is very much grander as a composition, and altogether more intensely high strung yet calm in feeling. Then Francia is one of those artists


whose excellence is in inverse ratio to the size he undertook. The Turin picture is of life size figures, and this one little more than miniature. And now I need but add that it comes originally from the Cellamare collection at Naples, that it is jewel-like in colour, and has a landscape of the most delicate beauty. The price is fifteen hundred pounds (£1,500). I think you will grant it is not dear. I will say no more. If you have the money, you will do well to buy it, and if you decide to buy it, please cable Berenson, Settignano, YANCIA. I was heartily sorry to hear of you in the grip of the grippe. I have never had it, and long may it avoid me. I do hope you are not having such Siberian weather as suddenly has descended upon us. It would not be helpful to you. We heard from Jephson some days ago. He was recovering from a bad illness; but seemed jolly enough. Hoping you are all right and well again, and your triumphant self, I am Ever yours, B.B. Pieta is now in the National Gallery, London·. Raimondi (Paris, n. d.). » 1. Francia's

»2. H. Delaborde, Marc-Antoine

[I Tatti] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Feb. 25, 1901

I know Virzi well. 1 He is as mad as a hatter, but perfectly honest for which reason Warren employs him. The collection he boasts of having sold to Mrs. Warren he had nothing to do with except to help in the bargaining. I went down and inspected it, telling Warren to take the Filippino only. 2 But as they would not sell that picture alone, Warren had to buy a number of others, tht least bad, as well. As for Virzi's Andrea del Sarto it is by Franciabigio, and worth a thousand pounds, altho' not half so good a piece of painting as for instance the Bacchiacca Lady I have been trying to induce you to buy. By the way, the Boltraffio that I offered you the other day for £1,050 has just been sold for £2,000. Cossa vorla? as they say in Venice. But to return to Virzi, in all these years that I have known him, despite my patience with his boring visits and letters he has never been the instrument of my picking up a single thing. He simply knows nothing-but he really means well. We have been having a simply terrific winter. Two days ago we had a great storm, and now it will perhaps take a turn for the better. Yours ever B. B. I hear our Art Museum has bought a picture I would not touch-Lord Carlisle's Velasquez Don Baltasar Carlos and his Dwarf for £16,000. For years 249


and years I have been angling for Lord Bristol's Baltasar Carlos and his Dog worth a hundred of the other. 3 I could get it now. Could you buy it? ANSWER.

Tomaso Virzi was a Milanese art collector and dealer. »2. The Warren tondo , Th e Holy Family with Saints John and Margaret, by Filippino Lippi, is now in the Cleveland Museum of Art. »3. Prince Baltasar Carlos and a Dwarf (now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts) , even in fair condition, is considered better; Bristol's picture was not sold. It is a studio version of a picture in the Prado. » r.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[I Tatti] Feb. 27, 1901

I received your charming note yesterday, and went down at once to secure "the Lady." The price as I stated before is five hundred pounds (£500) all told-and no reduction was possible. Its story is rather a long one. It belonged years ago to an acquaintance of mine in New York, named Wm. Rankin. 1 As unfortunately he is a confirmed drunkard, he is generally hard up. He sent a poor photograph and urged me piteously to sell it for him. From the photograph it looked fair but non-descript, and dirty, so that at that time I could not dream of urging you to take it; but I persuaded a certain acquaintance of mine here, half collector and half dealer-like most Florentines-to buy it. He did, and when it finally came here it turned out to be not Venetian as I had supposed but a fine Florentine work by Bacchiacca if properly cleaned. It was sent to Cavenaghi who under the dirt found it in perfect condition. The owner Carlo Coppoli 2 of Florence kept it some years, and now the itch to sell having taken hold of him, I at once thought of you. That is the story. Now the picture will return to America, and you have the satisfaction of knowing that it already has weathered that climate. Please send the money to Baring, and let me know where to send the picture. Spring has come within the 48 hours after the worst winter weather I can remember in Florence. But now it is glorious, so soft, and warm, and fresh. Would it always remained thus! I have had to knock off work for a bit. I am really done for, but you know it is very hard and very unwise to stop in the midst of a chapter that one is doing to one's satisfaction. Dear Jephson! You are quite right about him, but he is so comfortless, and according to his own account, at present, so poor. I really long to come home, and to be with you in your various paradises would be a pleasure of pleasures. But how to leave work before it is ended, and the very ending of which depends upon the momentum gathered in years, I know not; nor how to feel the leisure of spirit, without which en-


joyment is impossible, before the job in hand is done. So you see I'm in an impasse, and except by boring the way thro' there is no exit. Ever devotedly yours, B.B. Well do I remember the Bellano. Costantini was then a lamb-now a wolf. » r. William Rankin, American archaeologist and instructor in art history at Wellesley College,

1903-05, corresponded with BB from

898 to 1908, according to The Berenson Archive: An Inventory of Correspondence, comp. N. Mariano (Cambridge, Mass., 1965). »2. Carlo Coppoli was a restorer. See MB to ISG, IO November 1902. l

r 52 Beacon Street March r r [ r9or] Well, Berenson dear, you shall come to America. There is no other way to get the brace necessary for your work! Which should be done in grand style-and not halting, lame of one foot! I am telling my miserable and unfortunate trustee (who is dear and very sorry for himself because of me) to send £500 for you to Baring. Please send the Lady to Fernand Robert. As to the Velasquez, I am with you. I will buy the Don Baltasar and dog-but I ought not to! Only of course, do get it for little! And buy me a heavenly Raphael Madonna and then let's to sleep on our laurels. I think of putting on my pearls and begging from door to door-no other clothes but my Rosalina point lace! Greetings, Yours Isabella

P. S. No r

Robert has instructions to send it to Colnaghi when they notify him. They must repack to send it to me care of E. A. Snow, Customs House Boston with proper invoice. I. S. G. As to the Velasquez if you think it undoubted, go ahead.

P. S. No.

I have a small slice of principal of property, reserved for certain things. I shall pay for the Velasquez from that. But of course, all I tell you about my affairs is a Secret. Very many thanks for The Study and Criticism of Italian Art. 1 I. S. G. Please send immediately everything to me care Snow direct to Boston. 2

»I. BB's Study and Criticism of Italian Art (London, i901).

[Letter fragment. March

1901

written by ISG on top.]

underhand ways; but even then the price would have been but half of what the Art Museum paid. 251


The upshot of all this is that I shall name you a price for the Velasquez which will include all items, even my remuneration. I trust you will find that as compared with the Art Museum Velasquez, it will be relatively cheap. And now a truce to business. Jephson is still with us. I read him your pitiful words how, dressed in your lace and pearls only, you would have to beg from door to door. He sends you his devoted love, and begs me to add ever so many crosses, thus x x x x x = kisses. He is fee!ing much better having already accomplished the greater part of his purpose in coming hither, which was this:A dreadful lot of the nastiest scandal had got abroad in connection with his last stay in Florence and this scandal, having got to the ears of some of his best friends in England was threatening ruin to the poor fellow. At least he thought so, not knowing how the idle~ nasty-minded foreign colony here, spends its entire leisure-and leisure is its business-in running down peoples' characters. Jephson came determined to kill himself, if the miasma could not be lifted. It has been and now he is happier, or as happy as ever, the dear delightful, sentimental, and altogether charming creature that he is. Yours ever devotedly B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Nervi, April r,

1901

At last I have the photograph of the Velasquez and I am forwarding it. Look and see whether you can and will resist it. It is of a sublime magnificence, and almost tragic power which even Velasquez has seldom reached. It is on canvas, 60 inches high and 3 5 wide. As for the price I fear there is small hope that the owner will take less than ÂŁ20, ooo-the sum for which, as I have discovered, he has insured it. Should he take no less, the picture will cost you, all told, scarcely under ÂŁ23 ,ooo. I will make a hearty and loyal effort to get it as cheap as possible; but you must be prepared to pay the figure I have indicated. If you consent, and see your way to it, pray lose no time to cable to me: Berenson, Settignano, Florence YEQUEZ. 1 I came here two days ago, dead beat, for a rest. The sea air already makes me feel much better, and I am with devoted friends who do , and care a great deal to make me happy. This evening we are going to hear the Duse in d' Annunzio's Citta Morta. I can not conceive that most undramatic of plays being a success. But we shall see. My wife has gone to England for a month. Jephson is now at Alassio, and goes on to Hyeres, and then London. 2 Adieu, and may the gods permit you the Velasquez. Yours ever B. B.


Âť r. The painting remained in the collection of the marquess of Bristol at Ickworth Park. It is

now part of the National Trust, Ickworth House, Bury Saint Edmunds. Âť 2. Alassio, on the coast in Liguria, whence, probably, Jephson went by boat to Jeres, Spain, and on to London.

l

52 Beacon Street Boston April 7, 1901

Dear Berenson

Easter Evening

Your letter came today. I answer immediately and can't help wishing you were here to keep Easter with me. I have just come in before going to bed, and find Easter greetings from friends-eggs, flowers, etc. etc. And by the way what a wonderful performance of Puccini's Boheme I heard! Will you please immediately take your facile pen in hand and tell me between four walls the exact details of Jephson's scandal. Poor dear, he is really made of too good stuff for the common herd to touch. I sat with your sister for a few minutes at the concert on Friday. She always reminds me of you, and when I tell her so, she spoils you by being so delighted! About the Velasquez, lst the Art Museum only paid $10,000 for it. And everyone shrieks at the great price, but adores the picture. So I want to have one for nothing at all! one much more adorable. You see I am perfectly and always consistent. So do your best, your best ought to be good enough. Goodnight and a happy Easter to you. Greetings to you both. Comebring your wife, and she must bring you. I have charming rooms ready at Brookline. Tell Jephson his room is very tired waiting! Yours Isabella

l

52 Beacon Street

Boston Dear Berenson

April 17 [1901]

I cabled to buy Velasquez and now I send a written word. The photograph has just come and is beautiful. I hope I can get hold of a newspaper cutting that tells about the Boston Art Museum Velasquez. You see whatever I do 1s wrong. Today I am going to Smith College. Proctor, a musical protege of mine, is to play there; 1 and your sister has been pressing in hoping I would go. A charming person there has asked me for the night, so I am going, and I shall see your sister in a few hours. I have a horrid fancy that she doesn't really like me! Perhaps I have got a wrong impression. I hope so! What day I shall rhove to Brookline I do not know-but you are very wrong not to come to Brookline too-P. T 0. Hastily yours Isabella 253


P.S. April r8Just back from Smith, where everything was most enchanting. Your sister Senda met me at the station, gave me a beautiful bunch of violets and was altogether enchanting. 2 I wish she really did like me! The concert went well. But you must come to America in summer; and this summer! Yours I. S. G. George Proctor (1873-1949); despite ISG's patronage over many years, his career as a pianist was a disappointment. Âť2 . Violets, ISG's favorite flower, were always placed in a vase in front of Christ Bearing the Cross. She wanted violets on her coffin, but they were not in season and white roses were used. ÂťI.

Dear Friend,

Settignano, Florence April 2 I , r 90 I

How can I thank you for your enchanting Easter letter! It brought me something of your real, radiating, self. And how I wish I could come with my wife at once to occupy those rooms you speak of. I remember the house well-but anywhere with you would be delightful. And my wife I know longs to know you, for she knows what you have been to me, and what you mean to me. But I am staggering under the load of the three or four books I have promised, and neither the publishers ,nor my own conscience will permit me to rest until they are published and over with. Then I shall breathe free-if I survive-and my first leisure will be spent with you-if really you want me. Oh, dear Friend, the weather at last! What would I not give to have you here to smell the matutinal vernal fragrance, to see with me our horizon with the cypresses, and stone-pines, and the gem-like beauty of the distant hills. You have imagination. So pray imagine you are here with me for a minute-and you really must some May come and spend it here with us. I copy a passage from my wife's last letter-I can't find it after all, but it was to tell me that Jephson was staying with her at Haslemere, and was birds-nesting with her children and telling them savage-stories. The day before she wrote: "Jephson has had one uninterrupted and generally frightful severe head-ache ever since he has got back. But he has cleared up the Florence scandal. He saw Mr. Hanbury Tracy who was most satisfactory and is writing to everybody that he is convinced the charges are damned lies, and Sir George Lewis 1 is to write to Eyre and Mason, for it was Eyre who wrote the worst letter of all. He is very pleased to have it cleared up-but with such frightful headaches no pleasure is very active. Lady Sudely 2 told me she thought he would not live very long. She said his doctor told her._He said yesterday he would be very glad to die." Poor, dear Jephson. The scandal about him was to the effect that he came to Florence to have improper relations with men. I dare say you have heard that there is supposed to be here quite a colony of these monsters. Almost 254


every person of society or culture who comes to Florence, and can possibly be charged with it, is by the idle, foul-tongued Anglo-American people who live here God knows why. This charge is sure to be brought against a man who keeps aloof from these people. When sifted to the bottom it came out that at a cafe Jephson struck up a conversation with a young man who turned out to be the son of the famous florist Mercatelli. He expressed his intention to go to England to study gardening. So J. out of the kindness of his heart gave him his card, and told him to write when really he was coming, and that he would arrange to have him see some of the famous English gardens. A man named Mason, a great ornament of Anglo-Florentine society, who happened to be at the same cafe made out of this innocent affair the tale that he saw Jephson at the door of a theatre scattering his cards to pretty boys. This Mason who by the way is a relation of Jephson's great friend Lady Sudely, is a crony of a certain Eyre. Eyre you must know is a pretty hunchback, a spediteur by trade, who also takes into his house "paying guests"-and yet with his wife forms the very center of Florentine "foreign society." There are two things the Eyres never forgive, the first, if you do not employ them, the second if you do not frequent them (for what am I not down in their black books! I believe there is no possible accusation they have not made against me). Jephson then did not frequent them, and so they joined partnership with Mason and invented all sorts of stories about him. The one kernel of fact in their accusations was that one evening Jephson had dining with him a "painted minion" of the masculine gender. This minion however was a young Count de La Condamine who everywhere in Europe, including England, is received into the best society both for his birth and his great musical talents. Why people should have bothered to make an elaborate plot against Jephson I can not understand. They wrote to Tracy, Lady Sudeley's eldest son, and to others. Perhaps Mason was jealous of Jephson's place in Lady Sudely's heart. Poor Jephson, my wife's, and my own heart are melted with pity for him. He is by far one of the most charming persons I ever have met-and so entertaining to boot. Ever devotedly yours B.B. ÂťI. Sir George Lewis (1833-1911), English lawyer engaged in many sensational cases. Âť2. Baroness Sudely (Ada Maria Katherine Tollemache) (b. 1840), married the fourth baron Sudely (1840-1922) in 1868.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. May 17 [ 1901]

Your sad letter came this morning. There were two cables sent to you! Whatever became? I am as sorry (not quite) for you as for myself. But "it's 255


an ill wind etc.," for my money man (my trustee) will laugh with joy like a dog, to think that he does not have to raise the money. So, don't let's talk about it. It is a sad subject, and I shall be as silent as azaleas in flower. Do you know how silent they are? Come and sit on my little terrace where they all stand, in a cool shimmering darkness made by the Japanese awnings over them, through which the sun only glints. They flower more densely than anything in the world, and each flower is silent. Perhaps! Whatever is the matter with Jephson? And what is his permanent address? Yours IsabeJla

Dear Friend,

[I Tatti] June 3, I90I

These are the last busy days before leaving Florence, and there are a thousand bothering things to do, and I am not at all well enough to do them, but I can not let this post-day go without thanking you for your cheery note. I assure you it makes all the difference to me, perhaps if you knew how much, you would write even oftener. It has grown suddenly hot, and as I am not well enough to work, there is no use in staying to bear it. So we leave, as I said, in a few days, first for Switzerland in the hope that it may do me good, and then for London. Meanwhile it is really very beautiful here. We are so close to the woods that in a minute you are under the pines and cypresses. The evenings are simply gorgeous, just cool enough to sit out, and enjoy the crystalline clearness, and the silence. If one only were well enough to really enjoy it! I swear I shall never overwork again, and yet it is a shame, now that one has something to say, to have so little time for saying it. If my mother and younger sister were not coming to spend the summer with us, I would certainly come over and put myself in your hands. I am sure you would cure me. No very good news of Jephson. His permanent address is Holywell Yours ever devotedly B. B. Lodge, Meads, Eastbourne.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. June II [I90I]

I got your letter yesterday and instantly cabled YEFIGLI! So I hope to get a yes from you soon, and will then send to you (Earing's) the ÂŁ400. I think the photograph of the little picture quite a dear. 1 You worry me terribly about your health. Don't be mad, absolutely bereft of reason, but take it in


time. Do come over here for a real rest. I will have the beds aired for you at Green Hill as soon as you say. And do say! Make your wife bring you. I still have a sore feeling about the Velasquez. Is there no chance? They are making hay under my window. The rhododendrons and the birds are singing Hallelujahs. Do come. Yours Isabella ÂťI. The painting, attributed to Bonfigli, has not been identified.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Schonwald Black Forest June 19, 1901

I am so glad you are taking the little Bonfigli. It is a dear. Please send the money, and let me know where I am to send the picture. Not daring to go to Paris, as I usually do at this season, we have come to this primitive spot of high meadows and pine forest for a few days rest before plunging into the whirlpool of London. I have come here almost straight from as far South as Brindisi. Inland, some hours from there, in country as wild and unknown as Central Africa there was supposed to be a gallery with hundreds of pictures, among them two Velasquezes. I went, and saw, and found, it is true, a large collection, but not one picture I should have taken as a gift. Time, money, and health sacrificed, and as so often all for nothing. However I love southernmost Italy. The horizons there have a peculiar beauty, and the sky suggests molten crystal, and the people all come out of a Punch and Judy show. A little of it all goes a great way, but that little is very entertaining. And you-come va? As I always think of you, skimming the richest cream off life. Yours ever B.B. Please address to Baring Bros. London.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. June 22 [ 1901]

I am getting worried as I have no answer to my cablegram YEFIGLI. I hope that pretty little picture is mine. You always have good (?) reasons for not coming to America! Alas! I shall die perhaps and never see you again on this earth! Yours Isabella 257


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

London July IO, 1901

When I last wrote I hoped to write soon again and not on business. But I had been away for two years. There was the double to do not only in my studies, but in exploration of the picture market, and in seeing necessary people. Then I have had to have long conferences with three separate publishers. And on top of all my dear mother to whom I have had to devote every spare moment. 1 In ten days we shall be in the country at Haslemere, and then one will be able to rest. Meanwhile we are going to spend this "week's end" with Jephson. He is a great dear for he has asked my mother as well. I have had a glimpse of him already, and found him ever and ever so much better. And now to business. It is two pictures now. When you were at Madrid you surely saw and admired one of the great masterpieces of that inimitable Gallery. Sir Antony Moro's Portrait of Queen Mary the Bloody. It is deservedly one of the world's famous pictures, for there is no portrait more penetrating in interpretation, and more brilliant in its metallic, brilliant colouring. If an artist like Moro does not rank with Holbein it is not that he was less at his best than the greatest, but that he was not always at his best. When he is he has much more grandeur of style, and much more poetry of colour. And thus the Madrid portrait of Mary seems to me a really completer work of art than any Holbein whatsoever, for in the latter there is always something of German lack of sty lea fault which no one certainly feels in Moro's Madrid Mary. Well the picture I am offering you in the first place is another portrait of Mary not inferior to the Madrid one, equally authentic, but slightly different. 2 I am sending you two photographs after it, a silver print in which you get all the detail, and a carbon to give the colour values. 3 The flesh is golden and firm, the dress is magnificent, the arms of the chair are of a crimson velvet I have never seen surpassed for colour. It is a picture which combines all the sturdiness and precision of Holbein's with the splendour and style of Bronzino's best portraits. Its history is traceable practically to the day when it left the master's hand. It was presented by Queen Mary herself to her Master of the Horse, Sir Henry of Suffolk. In the estate given him by Queen Mary, Costessy Hall, Norwich it has been hanging ever since. It was sold the other day by the present heir Lord Stafford. It is on panel, in excellent condition, and life size. The price is most modest, three thousand four hundred pounds (ÂŁ3,400) all told. It is as a very especial favour that I get it so cheap, and as a special favour that at this busy season, when all the buyers of the world are in London that I have got this picture reserved for a fortnight from date. So pray lose no time in cabling to me if [letter torn] want it! Berenson, Barings London, YEMARY.


The second picture that I humbly propose is of a very different nature. It is a Madonna with the Christ Child whom the infant John is hugging, a work of the purest and tenderest Florentine Quattrocento art. The photograph will tell you of its grace, its quaintness, its daintiness. The colouring is delicately harmonized, and entirely free from those crude contrasts that beset most Florentine pictures of the same epoch. 4 The picture looks very much like a Ghirlandaio; but is really much more refined, and exquisite work than any by that master. Its real author was Botticini, a man who was little known until recently a few of us brought him to light again. Owing to the close likeness between the names his best pictures have long passed as Botticellis, for instance the .Assumption of the National Gallery, or the Three Archangels of the Florence Academy. At his best moments as in this picture Botticini stands among the few greatest Florentines. He is already well known among amateurs, and his works are fetching great prices (Benson bought one the other day). This Madonna I can get for sixteen hundred pounds (£1,600) all told. This also I have had every difficulty in reserving, and I must beg you to cable YE CINI. I think I have seldom proposed two purchases more worthy of your acceptance. I hope you will not let go such opportunities. A bientot Yours ever B. B. » 1. BB's mother was Mrs. Albert Berenson (Judith Michelshanski) (1847-1938).

»2. ISG

purchased Queen Mary of England, now attributed to Anthonis Mor and his studio, from Dowdeswell, London. »3. With the photographs came a letter from the dealer saying that Mr. Bigelow of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts had sent a man from Agnew's "to report" on this picture. The dealer refused, since it was held for ISG. This may have been one reason why ISG and Bigelow became enemies and why she was considered to be in competition with the museum. »4. The Madonna and Child with the Little Saint John by Botticini was purchased from Lawrie and Co., London.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline July 22 [1901]

This very morning I got your letter dated July ro London! Can it possibly take so long? You spoke so enthusiastically of the Moro, and the Botticini, that I drove straight to the office and cabled to buy both! And so, bastamay I get them!-but now it must be halt. You see I am melting away on the paper. Such heat! Give my love to Jephson and to all others I love. And now a word in your ear. I am daily hard at work, day labouring, and this winter I will put the pictures and roba into the house Fenway Court, D. V. Then a spell of quiet and peace, and joy I pray for, but no more buy259


ing. Every place will be filled, and every cent gone. I will be living on a modest income which after me, goes to the Gardner nephews and nieces. But I am beginning to feel very sure I must not have any 2nd rate things. Is the Bottieini one? Also I want two more very tip toppers. Nothing less than the best Raphael Madonna, and the Velasquez Don Baltasar. All the remaining money is for them, unless you can get them cheap enough for me to squeeze in some wonder I don't know of. Will you read and inwardly digest this ?-and believe me. Yours Isabella

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline July 23 [ r9or]

I sent you a long letter yesterday. This is on another subject. Sometime ago you spoke to me about Colnaghi or someone exhibiting in their gallery my Botticelli Madonna (the Chigi). If you think well of it, I should like to have it done now, before it is sent over to me, which it will be before very long. I agree with you that perhaps that would be a good way of settling in the public mind the ownership of this much talked of picture. Of course I don't want an exhibition that would cost money to me. But I fancy that could not possibly be, in view of Colnaghi's fortune made out of me! If you think well of this exhibition, please write to Fernand Robert, 30 rue Joubert, Paris, with directions for sending the picture to London. I will write to him to expect such a letter from you. I still regret you are not here. I hope all went well about the Moro Queen Mary. Yours Isabella S. G.

Dear Berenson

July 29, [r9or]

Where are the pictures by Raphael Bacchiacca Bonfigli Moro Botticini? I want to have them sent immediately to me here (E. A. Snow to Boston direct) with invoices, if they have not already been sent to Robert in Paris. He does not advise me of their arrival under the names. Hastily yours I. S. Gardner 260


Dear Friend,

Near Haslemere Aug. 3, 1901

Letters take longer than one thinks. Thus I have just received two perfectly delightful ones from you, one dated July 22, and the other 23d. The Moro and Botticini are both yours-London dealers do at least stick to their word-and both pictures are first rate in their kind. There are many kinds of first rate, and an inexpensive, modest picture may in its own field of art be no less a masterpiece, no less admirable, and no less enjoyable than a Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt or Velasquez. Look what happens to people like the directors of our Museum of Fine Arts. Wild horses can not move them to buy anything that is not first rate. But the only notion they have of first rate, is a first rate name. The result is their triumphant purchase of a notoriously repainted Velasquez, which Lord Carlisle was willing to sell at about one third of the price that our directors have paid for it. Dr. Bigelow, a charming refined, cultivated person is one of them is he not? Well (this is strictly private), we talked about pictures, and he believed himself very, very wise about the condition of a picture. But he made me and other people smile and if he knows so much, how did he let his colleagues buy such a repainted picture! Your next Velasquez shall be of another kind. I went to the Guildhall again and again to study it. 1 I kept very mum about it, and to hosts of appeals for my opinion on it I answered with "I do not know much about Velasquez." I even talked with enthusiasm about other pictures. In short I and my agents have done all we could to draw attention away from the picture, and to scare away other purchasers, such as the Berlin people, and the Rothschilds whom we know to have been after it. And in Sept. when the exhibition is over, I have fair hopes of getting the picture at a price which to you shall not be over ÂŁ2 5, ooo and if possible lower. "If only you had spoken before!" It really is important to exhibit the Chigi Botticelli. It will be a feather in the Colnaghis' cap, but what is important is to make it perfectly clear before it crosses the Atlantic that this and no other is the Chigi picture. The really propitious moment for exhibiting it would-have been a month ago. Now it is perfectly useless, for there is not a cat left in London. Everybody of the least importance is gone, and even the dealers are most of them away. But if you could let the Colnaghis have the picture toward the end of Sept. for three or four weeks, people would be back, and the effect we desire would be produced. Of course it will not cost you a penny. Pray let me know if this arrangement will do, and if it will, please write to Robert to keep the picture at my orders. So you really -are going to hang the pictures next winter. Dear, dear, how I long to be with you to help you. It is no words, it is a sad fact, however, that until I have shaken off my shoulders this Sindbad's incubus of a book I am good for nothing. It weighs on me night and day, and I'm 261


heartily weary of it. I can't remember when I've been so tired. I came down here just a fortnight ago to a place of the most exquisite beauty. But when I am not asleep, I doze, and it is a fearful effort to write down even a note. My mother and sister are with me, but I am too tired to enjoy them. I shall go to S. Moritz in about ten days for a brace. I have seen a good bit ofJephson. We stayed with him one week's end at Eastbourne, and this week he was here for three days. He grows more and more loveable, but is as wayward as ever, very sentimental, engulphed in seas of troubles, yet gaining steadily in health. That famous Aunt of his is leading him a h - - of a life. But I really believe he will pull through all right. Two things about him I fail to understand, how he can, considering his wretched health, survive so much smoking, and how his very limited purse can stand so much telegraphing. Good-bye, dearest of friends. It is pleasure itself merely to think of you. Yours devotedly B. B. Âť r. See BB to ISG, 25 February 19or.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Near Haslemere] Aug. l l, 1901

You must please be patient with a letter of boring trifles. The Moro and Botticini are going off directly straight to Boston. But I am fearfully puzzled about the invoices. You tell me to send them to E.A. Snow, and that will be done. But you do not say whether he or you are to be indicated as the purchaser. As you seem very eager to get the pictures as soon as possible, and as correspondence would cause delay, I have given instructions that you and not Snow are to be indicated as the purchaser. This at the worst may cause you slight annoyance, but can not be wrong; whereas, if I gave Snow's name, and it was not the right one, God only knows what our ridiculous customs might do about it. But if in the future you wish Snow to be indicated in the invoices as the purchaser pray let me know now. Now in answer to your inquiry where the Raphael, Bacchiacca, Bonfigli, Moro, and Botticini are:The Raphael is at Fernand Robert's, but you wrote asking me to send it to him without telling him anything about it. And that is why he does not know it under Raphael's name. The Bacchiacca he also has, and as I wrote at the time to tell him it was coming, and giving him the name there is no excuse for his not having identified it. However we all are fallible, and I have just written to help him out. The Moro and Botticini are still here and just leaving direct for Boston. As for the Bonfigli, I wrote you a long letter at the end of June telling you that the scoundrel of an Italian dealer sold it in spite of promising to let me have it. As you surely received the letter I


need not open a still fresh sore once again. It may help you to recall it when I remind you that in the same letter I urged you to buy a gorgeous canvas by Paris Bordone, as fine almost as his Fisherman and Doge, representing Christ among the Doctors. And now that I have this occasion, let me urge you once more to get this picture. It is only £1, 6 50 , dirt cheap, and is a piece of Venetian colour the like of which is rare. 1 I have £400 standing to your credit, so £1250 more will be all you need spend on it further. I enclose another photograph thereof, for fear you have lost the first. It is on canvas, about 2 meters wide, and less high. Now just another word about Don Baltasar Carlos. The moment is approaching when, if ever, the picture may be got. I want you therefore to cable me YES or NO whether you authorize me to get you the same if it is to cost you £25,000 all told. If you care enough to go higher still, cable the utmost limit to which you would go. Remember I shall do my best to get it as cheap as I can without regard to what you would pay. But it is a fearfully difficult business, may require sudden action, and I want to be prepared for the fray. My address until Sept. l 5 \Nill be Hotel Caspar Badrut, S. Moritz Dorf, Engadine, Switzerland. The cable address for the same period will be Badrutcas, S. Moritz Dorf, Switzerland. Messrs. Colnaghi write to tell me they would be delighted to exhibit the Botticelli, but implore me to persuade you to let them have it for November. They say, and I am sure they are right, that before Nov. there are not enough people in town to make such an ~xhibition worth while. So I beg you to let them have it then. It really is worth while, and, if you liked, they could send the picture straight to Boston. I am no better, and therefore off in a few days for S. Moritz. Do not curse me too much for all this boring letter. Yours ever B. B. »I.

ISG purchased Christ among the Doctors by Paris Bordone from the J.-P. Richter Collection.

Dear Berenson

[August

1901]

Yes about Chigi Botticelli. I have advised Robert. I can't write more, because of a painful sprained ankle. Yours I.S.G.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline August 22, l 90 l

Tonight comes a perfectly incomprehensible letter from you! All that you say about Raphael and Bacchiacca held good some time ago, but I wrote to Robert telling him what those pictures were, and have had the pictures them-


selves from him, over a fortnight! And then, about the Bonfigli, that is a terrible disappointment. I have a letter from you telling me it is mine, but never one word saying it wasn't, or speaking about the Paris Bordone. I do incline to that one now, seeing the photographs of it in your letter tonight, but I liked the Bonfigli better. (The photograph I mean, and much better than the Bacchiacca picture.) Today, Snow tells ine one picture is arriving. What does that mean? What one is it? Has anything happened to the Moro or the Botticini? You say you send both directly! There is no name or description in the invoice Snow had. Please, always have the name of the painter and the price on the invoice. It doesn't matter who you call purchaser, if you send them to "E. A. Snow for Mrs. Gardner." Please take note of this. As to the Velasquez, I want it, so I leave it to you. Get it as cheap as you can. If there is anything left over I may buy the Bordone. I hope nothing will happen to Velasquez or Botticini. I fear everything this summer, my luck is so bad. It seems to me that everything has gone wrong. I could cry about the Bonfigli. What is the dealer's name, and what redress have you? or have I rather. Remember to tell me his name. Fancy having to buy the Velasquez all over again-for surely I lost no time in saying yes to your propositions! I don't believe in Colnaghi you know, but if he is quite sure the picture (Chigi's) can be exhibited in the early part of November and can get to me before the end of that month, he may exhibit it in November and send it direct to me-not via New York. So he must begin by finding out the sailings of the steamers direct to Boston. I must have it here before the end of November. As there has only one picture's invoice come to Snow, either the Moro, or the Botticini is not. Please tell me where it is. Everything goes so wrong I feel anything may have happened. Do get well. How could you overwork so? Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

St. Moritz Aug. 25, 1901

I was getting so ill in England that both my wife and my mother insisted on my coming hither. They did well for much as I hated leaving the charming English country, I was getting worse and worse, and here I feel myself again. On my way thro' in London I saw a very beautiful, very important, and very great bargain of a picture. I enclose a poor photograph to give you 1 some idea. For the rest you must take my word. It is an Annunciation, exquisite in beauty of line, truly gorgeous in colour, and of the most delicate sentiment. The reds and golden greens are of surpassing splendour. It


is about four feet high and three wide, is on wood, and is in a sixteenth century frame with cherubs in low relief. It was painted by Agnolo Gaddi, and besides all its aesthetic merit, it has for your Collection the immense advantage of connecting Giotto and Fra Angelico. Its price is seven hundred and fifty pounds (ÂŁ7 50). I trust you will agree with me that this is an opportunity not to let go. And if you do agree with me please lose no time in cabling: Berenson Badruttcas, St. Moritz Dorf Switzerland, YEGADDI. Ever since my arrival we have been having the most gorgeous weather. It seems to me much quieter here than usual. My own intimate friends are all here, but of the larger French crowd there is almost no one. I live very hygienically, take short walks, and refuse all invitations. By acting thus until Sept. l 5, I hope to benefit by the place, and return to Florence able at last to finish that incubus of a book. My wife is spending today with Jephson. He leaves tomorrow for Caen to spend a fortnight with that wild tantrum his aunt who seems fury and flame against him. He has been quite ill, but I hear he is much better. Yours devotedly B. B. Âť l. The Annunciation is not in good condition and is now attributed to Lorenzo di Bicci. See

M. Boskovitz, Pittura Fiorentina alla vigilia del Renascimento (Florence, 1975), p. 331, plate III.

Dear Friend,

S. Moritz Sept. 3, 1901

I am awfully sorry to see from your letter of Aug. 22. that you were feeling so unlucky and depressed. It can not be, dear Friend. I always think of you as triumphant, and the darling child of good fortune. And so it must be and shall be to the end. Certainly I always have and always shall do all I can to keep your luck at its height. In the course of many things there always will be set-backs as in the case of the Bonfigli; but one must not take such minor misfortunes too hard. I preach to you who should preach to myself; for that Bonfigli gnawed at me and is responsible for the great part of the miserable health I have been in this summer. You may be sure that were there any way of revenging myself on the swindling dealer, I should do so. But there is absolutely none, and the only thing is to consider the matter closed and turn to better things. I can not understand, by the way, how the long letter I wrote about this business no later than July r, failed to reach you. It was in the same letter I enclosed the photograph of the Bordone. Directly I received your cable that you would take the Bordone I wrote to the owner, J. P. Richter, about it. I have not heard from him yet, probably because like everybody else just now he is travelling. I hope however that it will be all right. As for the Botticini and Moro you surely will have received them both


by the time you read this. The reason that they were not on the same invoice was simply that the Moro belonged to Dowdeswell, and the Botticini to Lawrie. Each dealer sent separately his own picture. A delay of half a day due to a fortuitous accident will make the difference of a post or a steamer. But I am sure it is all right by now. Believe, dear Friend, that I am careful of your interests and eager as possible to save you annoyance. But I am human and fallible myself, and the people who carry out instructions are even more fallible. And after all I only can give instructions. I can not with my own hands carry a picture to you. No, you will not need to buy the Velasquez over again; for one thing because you never have bought it at all. Several trustworthy people are taking care that nobody else gets it. Nor I believe would there be any difficulty in getting it this n1inute if you were to pay down for it ÂŁ3 5,000. All the delay, all the annoyance is due to my desire to save you money. Please reflect that if I were consulting my own interests only, I should make a bigger profit, and save myself infinite worry by getting the picture now at over ÂŁ30,000. But I am playing a waiting game in the strong hope of getting the picture cheaper. At the same time I do not want any one else to outbid me, and to avoid such a contingency I wanted your authorization to pay the higher price if absolutely necessary. So pray be of good cheer, and do sympathize with rne in my struggle for your interests. About ten days ago I wrote you about a very beautiful Annunciation by Agnola Gaddi, and I enclosed a photograph thereof. It is a picture you should not fail to get. If by any accident you have not received this letter, pray fail not to let me know at once. It is a gem of a picture. St. Moritz is already emptying. It has been dull, and fashionable. I have kept out of it as much as possible, for I am here to get well, and I have some hopes of accomplishing my desire. Here at the hotel we are a fairly happy family. The Pallavicini, the Grazzioli, the Placcis, the Rohan are my great standbys, along with a Marchesa Gropallo of Nervi. The Rohan, the Gropallo and I sit together at meals. A day or two ago the Rohan gave a dinner party, and then for the first time in my life, my horrified eyes beheld that monster of vulgar ugliness Mrs. Moore of Paris. How Curtis could ever [have] had this horror for his bonne amie surpasses my understanding. Please read Maeterlinck's La Vie des Abeilles. 1 It is a fascinating book full of profoundest suggestions not about bees only. I remain here just a fortnight more and then to Italy for one or two visits to Lombardy before settling down in Florence once more. The Colnaghis will have the utmost care of your Chigi Botticelli and send it as you desire straight to Boston. But permit me to urge you to let them have it for the whole of November. A fortnight certainly is not long enough for everybody concerned to hear of it and see it. And if it is to be exhibited at all, it had better be well done.

266


I do hope this will find you triumphant, normally triumphant once more-the peerless Isabella the Only, that I always think of. Yours ever devotedly B.B. Âť r. Maurice-Polydore-Marie-Bernard Maeterlinck (1862- 1949) published

La Vie des abeilles in

1901 .

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. [September 1901]

I am very glad you have been taking care of yourself. Do get quite well, although you don't deserve it for not coming here! You are an obstinate person, and wrong headed. I am quite right in saying I bought the Velasquez once, for you said it was to be had for a certain price, and I said "yes." So, my part was done, and it was bought as far as I go, as much as the Bonfigli! Please tell me the amount of money to be sent for the Paris Bordone, and to whom. I await the picture; to be sent to E. A. Snow for me. I am sorry about the Gaddi, but now I am trying to get ready financially for the Velasquez, and the Raphael Madonna, which some day must be. This is the prettiest day I ever saw! I wish we might see it together. Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

S. Moritz, Sept. 15, 1901

You have not yet cabled YEGADDI, and I am beginning to fear you do not mean to take the picture. I should regret this extremely for it is a picture your collection needs extremely, and it is despite its low price-only ÂŁ750absolutely first rate. Lest the letter in which I enclosed the photograph thereof went astray, I am today sending another. It is all right about the Bordone. It now awaits your orders. You receive the Gazette des Beaux-Arts. I dare say you will have noticed in the Sept. number an article by Beruete, a Spanish critic of some distinction, on the Guildhall Exhibition. Therein he pronounces Lord Bristol's Don Baltasar Carlos to be a copy by Del Mazo, Velasquez's son-in-law. Of course he is absurd, and I know that our most serious rivals for its purchase the Berlin Museum people are also of my opinion. Still if this adverse judgment should frighten you, you need only cable NEQUEZ, and I will at once suspend negotiations in your behalf. 1 Now to the real point of my letter. I have a very extraordinary chance of buying for you four matchless and extraordinary hangings. I should think they were just what the Renaissance hall of your Museum needs to


give it the utmost splendour. As I do not mean to make a penny on this transaction, I can urge them upon you all the more warmly. I am sending you the photographs which can of course give you but a faint idea of their gorgeousness. They are all velvet of dazzlingly beautiful hue. They come hot from S. Maria Maggiore at Rome. There was every difficulty in buying and getting them away from such a famous place. There they have remained ever since their dedication in the 17th century by the Chigi Pope Alexander VII, whose name, arms and date of pontificate are on each curtain. They go in Pairs. Thus the photograph marked I and 2 are nearly of a kind and size. The other pair marked III and IV, also go together. You will find on the back of each photograph a description of the colour and indication of the size. They are to be bought in pairs only. The larger pair is in somewhat better condition than the smaller, al tho' that also is in excellent condition. The larger pair costs sixteen hundred pounds (£1,600). The smaller fourteen hundred pounds (£1,400). If you take both pairs there is a reduction of 10°/o. That is to say you can get both pairs for two thousand seven hundred pounds (£2, 700). I know for a fact that dealers both in Paris and London are willing to pay considerably more for the set. And if they are willing to pay more you can understand that they would ask twice as much as I can get them for. Why I can get them so cheap I shall tell you if you take them. But I must have an early answer. If you will take the larger set cable LARGER. If the smaller only cable SMALLER. If both sets cable BOTH. If you do not want them please be good enough to return me the photographs. I leave S. Moritz day after tomorrow and descend to Cadenabbia. My wife joins me there, and we shall slowly creep back to Florence, and I to work again if I find I am well enough. S. Moritz for the last ten days has been nearly empty. It has been wintry, yet beautiful, and I really have been enjoying the faithful few who have remained. So Roosevelt is president! I am rather afraid of what he may do, and yet I admire him. Devotedly yours B.B. » l. Aureliano de Bernete was considered a good critic of Spanish paintings . The picture is

today attributed to Velasquez's studio (see BB to ISG, 25 February 1901).

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. September I I [ 1901]

I am glad to get a cable saying the Bordone is mine, particularly as you were so extravagant in praise, and as I love the Venetians. I can't buy the Gaddi I fear. Money rst, for the little sums add up and being on wood! It seems hopeless to leave pictures on wood here. They all go to pieces. My poor

268


little Botticini is wearing [illegible], and the Fiorenza di Lorenzo would make you weep. The Gaddi appeals to me though. They have a terrible way of cradling the backs, much worse than nothing, and don't do what they ought to do, that is put [on] some sort of fresco pasta etc., (I don't know what it is called) the old Italians often did! Do take care of yourself and get well. Fling the book into the sea-and come. Yours Isabella Please give me the Paris Bordone provenance.

Dear Friend,

Cadenabbia Sept. 22, 1901

I have received your note telling me you won't get the Gaddi because it is on wood. Now, wood certainly is a despairing thing, but not every picture on wood goes to the bad. It is on the whole the exception, the picture painted originally on cheap wood, and that has been kept in damp places that goes wrong. But the Gaddi you must remember was painted in the 14th century when painters were very much more careful of their materials than in the next century. Then the thing is so gorgeous, so fascinating, and so interesting that at the very humble price it is offered you, you would, I am convinced make a mistake not to risk it. You know I have for the last two years seldom urged you to buy what you were not inclined for, and indeed seldom mentioned a picture more than once. If I insist so much, it is because as your friend and adviser I feel I must. The Bordone belongs to Richter of whom among your first purchases we bought your Bonifazio and Catena. I came here Tuesday directly from S. Moritz. My wife joined me Wednesday. We have been lazily enjoying ourselves, seeing our friends, and their beautiful villas on the Lake. Aldo Noseda has just been lunching with me, and begs to be remembered to you most cordially. So does Placci, and so does a smart old buck named Greppi who knew you in Rome. Jephson has been to his aunt's, been very ill in Paris on his way back, and is now at Eastbourne and better. Please address me henceforth to Settignano, Florence, and believe me Ever devotedly yours B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Gazzada, near Varese Sept. 28, 1901

The Bordone costs you £1,650. As I already have £400 of yours, you need send me only £1,250, and as usual to my account at Barings. If you would be good enough to add another £ 3o it would cover charges on the Queen Mary and on the Botticini for which I already have paid as


you will see by the enclosed bills, as well as what will be due for packing, insurance, etc, on the Bordone. So if you sent £1,280 that would be just right. I believe you are making a mistake in not getting the Gaddi. I will try to save the money for you out of the Velasquez. If this Gaddi were not such a beauty I would not bore you and myself with it. Being what it is, I am determined it shall go to Boston, and if you won't have it, you shall at all events have the pleasure of seeing it. We are staying at the most charming place I believe in Europe. It combines most of what is beautiful in Italy as well as in the North. The view over the park stretches across lakes including Maggiore, to Monte Rosa, and to right and left lovely slopes of wooded hills. Do you know the Oleo Fragrans 1 whose fragrance fills my nostrils at this moment? It combines all the most delicious floral scents in the world, and somehow is just the proper accompaniment to the marble halls, and colonnades, and terraces of such a villa as this. Addia, addio. B.B. »I.

Oleaceae osmanthus Jragrans, a "sweet olive."

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. September 29 [1901] Sunday

I got last night your letter about the Chigi hangings. As soon as the photographs come, I will look and think. I had just sent a cable to you "Ye Gaddi." But it had to go to town and presumably will not get to you until Monday. You are probably swearing at the delay in sending it. If so, it is only because you really do not take in the state of affairs here. The state of my affairs, I mean. £750 did not exist when you sent me word of the Gaddi. Now I have just been able to make arrangements to pay interest on borrowing it, by letting my town stable!1 Don't you see by that how in earnest I am? Colnaghi can exhibit the Chigi Botticelli as long as possible in November, but it must get to me the lst week in December. Always Yours, I. S. Gardner The stable was behind 90 Beacon Street. Although ISG moved into Fenway Court in November, the house at I 52 Beacon Street was not sold until 1904. »I.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. October 2 [ 1901]

The photographs came with the dimensions, and I have measured and measured, but it is only possible to get one of the smallest ones into any space.


So I reluctantly return the photographs to you. I hope you got the cable YE GADDI! If so, and the picture is mine, please have it sent (with anything else of mine not already sent anywhere) to me care E. A. Snow direct to Boston. Good luck to us both. Yours Isabella

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. October 14 [1901]

I am having a little illness, too much work-but I write this to tell you that I told my man of business to send you the r,280 pounds. He asked for the bill for the Bordone expenses which you suggested would be more than ro pounds. He thought that very dear. Please send bill. The other bills came to the neighborhood of £20. You said with the Paris Bordc5ne expenses it would make £30. He is also surprised they-the Botticini and Moro expenses-were not on the Moro and Botticini bills. I am sorry to bother you, but business men require much assuring. Has the Bordone been sent? To me or where? I await it. Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[I Tatti] Oct. 16, 1901

I have just had to bother you with a cable. That wretched man Robert who seems to have a personal spite against the Colnaghis, flatly denies that you have given him the instructions to deliver up the Botticelli to them. So I have cabled begging you to cable instructions to Robert now. Of course you already have done so, but he probably enjoys being disagreeable. It won't matter if it causes no delay. Yesterday I received from Messrs. Kidder, Peabody a cheque for £750 for the Gaddi. I sent insructions at once to Toplady, the owner, to ship the picture direct to Boston. 1 I am sincerely glad that you could take it. Please do not think that I regard your purse as bottomless, or fail to recognize the dose of heroic effort and real sacrifice incurred in arranging your purchases. A miracle that continues forever ceases to startle, as we are not startled by the stars in their courses, or by any of the everlasting miracles of nature. Yet the enlightened person fails not to continually admire. And I am in a state of perpetual admiration of your courage, your determination, your readiness to sacrifice anything and everything to your purpose. Altho , 1n· a humble degree I am myself enough of the same family to appreciate and adore the person who can live for an end. And the end really is a splendid one. At this eleventh hour you are gathering together a collection which in many respects will rival those that generations and the resources of Nations


have brought together. Nor is the end yet I hope. I shall do all that in reason should be done to get you the Velasquez, and keep my ears and eyes open for other treasures. Courage mon amie, and good luck! I wish the Chigi hangings could have entered into your scheme, but they of course are things to buy only when they can be put to use. I returned last night from my wanderings. For a week I had been staying with the Grazioli and her people in an ancient Cistercian Abbey which is situated in almost my favourite spot in Italy-the Marche of Ancona. It is delightful oak country, every hill crowned with a castellated village, and every church containing a work by Crivelli, or Lotto, or Boccati, and other less famous but scarcely less fascinating painters. In a four-in-hand we raced up and down these hills, exploring. And thus in luxury and comfort and in most charming company I revisited a region I had explored in very different conditions. Good-bye, dear Friend, and most affectionate greetings from Yours devotedly B.B. Toplady was a London antiques firm owned by Philip Morrell (husband of Lady Ottoline Morrell), Logan Pearsall Smith, and Percy Fielding. ÂťI.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. October 27 [1901]

Don't say anything against Robert. He is a real trump, and has always done his very best for my interests. He has saved me from an insane asylum. Would there were more like him! As for Colnaghi, think of him! After saying that nothing could possibly be done about exhibiting the Chigi until November, going into a "frumious" condition over it in October, which was originally the time I suggested he should have it! I shall never, never forgive him for the trick he played me about the Crivelli. Do you remember? His carelessness, thoughtlessness, and general inefficiency in forwarding it to Paris resulted in my not seeing it when in Europe, and not, consequently, for two years. I shall be very thankful when (if!) I get the Chigi Madonna safe and sound in my house here at the end of November; as you know I insisted upon when I gave him permission to exhibit it. But I simply tremble to think what may happen to it in his hands! Nothing in the round world is more beautiful than Brookline toqay all in golden shimmer. I wish you were here to see-and be seen. Yours Isabella Gardner Will the Gaddi appear very soon? The Giotto I have. It is a real joy.


[I Tatti] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Oct.

28, 1901

I do hope you are better of your illness. I could preach to you about taking care of yourself-it is so easy to preach to others-but please do for my sake. I have received the £1, 280. If anything remain after paying for the insurance on the Bordone and Gaddi I will let you know, when I receive the bills. The charge on insurance can never be calculated in advance. It depends on the season, and the steamer, etc. etc. It is customary therefore invariably not to include it in the price of a picture, but as an extra charge. Now for the Velasquez. I have made all the capital I could [Letter torn; next section missing.] will take at the very least £3, 500 more. So if you want the picture you must be prepared to pay down £3 3, 500. I hear from the Colnaghis that yesterday was private view day of your Botticelli, and that they have issued a little pamphlet about it. I have not seen it yet, but am writing to them to send you 25 copies, and you can have more if you like. As the object of the exhibition is to clear up once for all the real ownership of the picture your name has of course been mentioned. So good-bye, and good luck dear Friend. I hope you are having such resplendent autumn days and such crystal nights as we are. Yours ever, B.B.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. November 4, [ 1901]

The Bordone arrived and was unpacked yesterday. I write most hurriedly now, to beg you to speak to whomever it concerns of the very bad way it was packed-a single case, and not even a tissue paper over the face of the picture. Gross negligence, and such a contrast to the way Robert sends my pictures from Paris. Also, it was quite a silly performance to cause me to pay double freight and charges because they took the frame off, and packed it in another box! Please reprimand. The picture might easily have been scratched, as the wood of the box was very rough and nothing between it and the face of the picture! I was present at the opening at the Customs, and so I know. There is a steamer direct to Boston Nov. 19. I think the Chigi Botticelli should leave by that to get here by the end of November. No other direct steamer leaves for some time, and it must not be sent via New York. 273


Please attend to this. I am awfully sorry to bother you, but I still think with alarm of the Colnaghis and mess about the Crivelli. Always yours Isabella

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. November 6 [1901]

I am hearing from all sides that my Chigi Botticelli is being exhibited for charity in London. This certainly can not be possible! Never in any civilized place has such a liberty been taken by people who pretend that they are honest, without consent of the owner. If that is the case, I dernand that instantly the money for my own charity and the picture be sent to me. I have charities (many of them alas!) to which I have been unable to give anything lately, because of the moneys my pictures were costing me. You must readily see that if the story is true, it is a most monstrous and most unpardonable offence on the part of the Colnaghis. I do not mean that I o~ject to give to charities, but I do object to have other people give to charities of their own money raised through exhibition of my picture. Not for one moment did I suppose that the Colnaghis would ask money for the sight of my picture. You said in your letter, now before me, that it would be a great glory to them to exhibit it. I wrote the other day to say it must leave by the Nov. 19 steamer. Now if this story is correct, I wish you to instantly wire them to close the exhibition and send the money to me for charities of my own. I really cannot calmly think of such an unheard of piece of impertinent assumption as this Colnaghi way of doing charity! I can only hope (which I do) that the story is utterly unfounded; and that they did not take one penny from anyone for the exhibition. You must see yourself what an iniquity to me. I have so fully explained to you before, that I was obliged to give up charities on account of my pictures. Please let me know the true state immediately, and stop exhibition. Have the picture surely leave by the 19 November. Yours I. S. G.

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. November 9 [1901] No indeed, dear Berenson, not for me the Velasquez at that price. But if it is true that the reason is the entail does not allow it, how do you account for the original offer of ever so much less? Something scrubious! An entail is not a thing of a moment! Yours I. S. Gardner 274


Cheating somewhere, alas. Up to this time, nothing from or about the Colnaghis and my Chigi Botticelli!

[I Tatti] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Nov.

15, 1901

The Bordone was at Milan, and packed by Cavenaghi. As you wanted it to go direct to Boston I had to send it to London first. When it arrived there, I had it examined by a professional packer who wrote to assure me that it had reached London in good condition, and was packed all right for America. I fear I do not see what I could have done further. As for the frame-it is notoriously dangerous to send such a heavy frame along with a picture on canvas. It was at my own special request that the picture and frame \Vere not packed together but separately. Happily the Colnaghis have had nothing to do with this business. Cognizant of your displeasure towards them, I never employ them now to forward anything to you except when I have bought it from them or through them. As for the Crivelli I must remind you that whatever fault there was in the delay of forwarding it to Paris, was due to me rather than to them, and I remember writing this to you years ago. I regret to have to repeat it again-it is not agreeable to have you think less well of me-but in fairness I must. I am telegraphing to the Colnaghis to send the Botticelli by the steamer leaving Nov. l 9th. Please do believe that I am doing all I can to content you. Yours ever B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[I Tatti] Nov. l 7, l 90 l

I enclose a photograph of a small panel picture, only 12 in. high, and lOV4 wide. It is of an original by Pintoricchio. I dare say you will fall in love with it at first sight even from the photograph. Yet the photograph was done in a bad light, has come out very dark, and coarsened and blurred the effects of exquisite delicacy. The original is more than a painting. It is an objet d'art, a jewel. It is Pintoricchio's smallest, and I do not hesitate to say most exquisite Madonna. The flesh is golden ruddy. The golden brocade of the curtain harmonizes with the golden buff of the Child's shirt. The cherry red of the Madonna's dress and of the cushion the Child sits on goes beautifully with the pinkish colour of the parapet, while the blue of the Virgin's mantle strikes the chord 275


toned off into the greenish blue of the landscape and sky. On the horizon there is a flush of pale pink. A careful comparison of this little picture with Pintoricchio's. other works must convince one that Pintoricchio painted it about r 500, his heroic moment-the very moment when Raphael was under him and learning all he could from him. I enclose the facsimile of a drawing by Raphael which is but a free copy of this Madonna. The only great differences are that the child is dressed, and that the Madonna is seen full face. I enclose also a photograph of the Berlin Raphael, the Virgin of which also is copied more or less freely from this little Pintoricchio. The famous Conestabile Raphael at St. Petersburg, the no less famous Ansidei, for which the National Gallery paid such an extravagant price, and the Raphael that Pierpont Morgan has just bought for an even more extravagant price, all are more or less derived from this Pintoricchio. Not only then has it all the value of a masterpiece on its own account, but it has the extraordinary additional interest of being the exact connecting link between Raphael and his precursors. Then you must remember that Raphael is not at all so rare as Pintoricchio. In my day several genuine Raphaels have been in the market but not one authentic Pintoricchio. Indeed the only desirable one in private hands known to me belongs to a Spanish grandee and is not half so fine as this. Add to all this that since the "discovery" of the Borgia Apartments 1 Pintoricchio is "all the rage." This picture therefore is really a pearl of great price-and it belongs to me. I bought it for little of an ignorant and capricious dealer, and had no immediate intention of selling it. It is the kind of picture which nearly doubles in value from one year to another. So I could afford to keep it, and profit by waiting. But within two days two things have happened. Thanks to a well meaning friend I invested in some American stock on which I have (for me) lost heavily. The other is that at the same time a London dealer called on me, saw this little Pintoricchio and offered me four thousand pounds (ÂŁ4,000) for it. Under the circumstances therefore I must part with this little picture, altho' I know it can but increase in value, and that it must now be worth much more. For a dealer seldom buys things of this kind unless he foresees an immediate and considerable profit. I have not refused the dealer, but I begged for a short delay. And this delay I wanted so as to write and propose the picture to you. I should little mind parting with it if it went to you. On the other hand, if the dealer takes it, it will mean a considerable opening for business in the future. And of business alas! one must think, little as one likes. I have put the facts before you. It is for you to decide. Except for the pleasure of adding a gem to your collection I have no interest in the matter. If you want to have it, cable without delay YICCHIO, and, unless the Italian


Government prevents my exporting it, the picture will be yours. I may add that you will never want to put it into your gallery, but keep it, as I have, by your bedside. 2 We are having the most extraordinary summer. Now at T30 in the evening, by open windows, the thermometer marks 70. Walking today was too hot, but the groves above the house were so fragrant with autumn leaves, and one felt like joining the lambs in their frisking. On a day like this of all Addia! B.B. days I wish you were here. Âť l. The Vatican apartments of the Borgia pope Alexander VI, decorated by Pintoricchio, were

restored between 1889 and 1897. ence and then sold it to ISG.

Dear Berenson

Âť2.

BB bought the Pintoricchio from Costantini at Flor-

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. November 22 [ 1901]

I fancy you must have got my letter telling you what I thought of Colnaghi's proceedings, and asking you to let him know the Chigi Botticelli must leave by the steamer of the 19th for Boston. Also saying what I had to say about the exhibition having been for money to be given by him to some charity of his own. (Perhaps not even that, only some bid for notoriety or toadyism). I this moment receive from him a note saying he will send the picture on the 26th} not the 19th. I also see by the English papers that he gives out that he originally bought the picture and resold it to me! This is perfectly astounding, considering that I asked you to buy it for me in Rome. If it is true, that may account for the enormous sum I was obliged to pay for it; but it is the rst time I ever heard of it, and certainly it displeases me very much if it is true. In fact there is only one word to explain such a transaction and for the friendship I wish to keep for you, I will not use it. Only this, I repeat and insist that henceforth no transaction whatever shall take place between me and Colnaghi. I said this to you before if you remember? Will you be kind enough to see that my wish is respected in the future. If you will be good enough to have the sum of money he has raised for his charity placed to my account at Earing's, I will write to them what to do with it. I will tell them what Colnaghi had the impertinence to do, without my consent, and will request them to present the money, in my name, to that charity, that it may not be the loser; although I much prefer choosing my own charities, and perhaps those nearer home. Everyone here who knows about this matter feels as I do, and it makes me more sure than ever that one should not go back on one's rst opinion of another person. You know what mine was of Colnaghi. The Gaddi has arrived in a very bad condition; also very badly packed. 277


If you ever buy anything for me again I pray that Robert may pack and forward it to me. Let me hear as soon as possible what you have done about Colnaghi. In me, he has killed the goose that laid the golden egg. Yours I. S. Gardner

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. November 29 [1901]

I didn't write to you last night when I got your letter, because I wanted to sleep on it-and now I feel calmer, and will only say that you are so like the everyday person after all, I see I cannot tell you what I think about Colnaghi, because you happen to like him. Therefore you get cross with me and say sad things. Poor me! Fancy what luck I had when the Europa had arrived safe and sound; a canvas packed with its frame! And certainly more valuable than the Bordone! But a truce to it all. When my pictures all arrive and are hung I will have a Thanksgiving Day of my own and will wish you here to celebrate with me. Yours always Isabella

[I Tatti] Dear Friend,

Dec. 12, 1901

I was going to write today to wish you with all my heart a merry Xmas, to be followed by a Happy New Year. Now I receive your note of Nov. 29, in which you chide me for getting cross because you scold the Colnaghis. But if you knew how much of my life these last six or seven years has gone into working for you, you would understand that I am very much perturbed by any dissatisfaction you express. Then I "enjoy" awful health, and during the past two months it has been worse than ever. I dare say you have heard that when one is neurasthenic the least word favourable or unfavourable from a person who figures largely in their mind, makes all the difference. Please put it down to that score if you find that I take things too hard. With my present state of nerves I would be sincerely happy to die at any moment. Of course I know what I ought to do, but until my book is finished I could not throw it off my mind, no matter what I did. Happily it is really approaching the end, and if somehow, no matter how unhappily I can manage to survive the next few months, I shall have finished the book-and never undertake so crushing a task again. If I am alive when the book is printed and published, my first leisure will be devoted to a visit to you if you will have me. I can not really tell you


how much I look forward to it. When tired of talking we could amuse ourselves making a grand catalogue of your collection. Please try not to think me too silly, and believe me Ever most devotedly yours B.B.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. December 14 [1901]

I hear nothing from you, so I fancy that the Colnaghi affair must be ended as they, not I, see fit. So, having before said my say, henceforth silence. The Chigi Botticelli has arrived and is in place. Thanks for that. I am struggling to tumble in somehow into Fenway Court for Christmas, so only a word now of best wishes for a Merrie Xmas and a Happy New Year. Yours most hurriedly Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[I Tatti] Dec. 23 , 1901

I receive your note, of Dec. 14, in which you tell me you had not heard from me for some time. As a matter of fact I wrote several times in reply to all that you asked, addressing my letters to l 52 Beacon St. Is it possible that they all disappeared? Thus, five weeks ago I wrote you a most important letter offering you that rarest of rarities, and most jewel-like of gems, a little Madonna by Pintoricchio. I have kept it for you under every difficulty, because other people are pressing for it. As the picture is my own I could not as in other cases, press and insist, and insist again. So . I let five weeks go without saying anything about it. Meanwhile other people are pressing me to let them have it, and if I do not hear from you in less than three weeks I must let it go. It is just under a foot square, perfect in colour, and the price is ÂŁ4,000 (four thousand pounds). In the letter I wrote on the subject I told you all about it, how it is the only Pintoricchio I ever have heard of for sale, and how Pintoricchio must have painted it while Raphael was in his atelier, and how Raphael copied it as we see in the Conestabile Madonna at St. Petersburg, and in the Berlin Madonna , and in a drawing at Oxford. I sent you the photographs of all these, but I have no others to send again, except of the Pintoricchio which I enclose. If you want it cable YlCCHIO.-Just time to catch the post so no more. Delighted Botticelli has reached you safely. Delighted also that you are getting into Fenway Court. Heartiest wishes for a Happy New Year. Devotedly B.B.

279


Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. [24 December 1901]

I was just sitting down to say how I was right and you were wrong, and to prove it, when your sad little letter of Dec. 12 was handed to me. And so, never a word more from me about those d d C ghis-"Peace on Earth, good-will towards men." You are a poor, dear soul. You deserve to be spanked for getting so ill and taking no care of your health. Come "here"-"here" is Fenway Court. I am moving in this very moment and too busy really to write. I send a dear little Kodak of my new house. Please like it. The proportions are wonderful. Quite the best I know. I have just put the pins in the cushion of your room. Come. Every good wish for the New Year from always Yours Isabella S. Gardner As I, intentionally, do not write to the Colnaghis, will you at some moment tell them I got the catalogue and would like some more.

[I Tatti] Twelfth Night 1902

Dear Friend, How can I sufficiently thank you for your perfectly charming note written Xmas eve! If you knew what a difference it makes to me, you would understand how grateful I am. The Kodak view of your new house is a wonder. What a divine thing it must be! I long to see it, and how you have arranged all your treasures. If I survive my task, I shall not be long in coming, and then you really must be nice to me, and set me up. You if any one can. Meanwhile all the papers from the Times up and down talk of nothing so much as of your collection. And I understand, altho' you have not written me, that this is your inauguration today. My heartiest congratulations! I do not yet know your exact address, but I hope this will reach you in your new abode. A fortnight ago I wrote you a second time about a divine Madonna by Pintoricchio I wish you to buy. I had written five weeks previously on the same subject, but, although I registered that letter you seem not to have received it, for you took no notice of it. I hope you received the second letter which I addressed to Brookline. If you have I trust you will see your way to buying this picture. As the picture is my own I have made the price as reasonable as in fairness to myself I could. But at any price, you will never have such a chance again. Again, with heartiest thanks and good wishes, Yours devotedly B. B. 280


Dear Berenson

Fenway Court Jan. 7 [ l 90 2]

Whatever can have become of the many letters you speak of-one came this morning speaking about your Pintoricchio, with a photograph. I cabled 1/2 an hour ago Yes, and this moment comes your cable in answer. I am aghast at the rapidity of the wire-also I am worried. You say "Pay"-1 of course will try to do so, but I fear if there is haste about it, you must let some of the many others, who are so eager for it, have the picture. Twenty thousand dollars is to me a perfectly huge sum now, and impossible to raise tout d'un coup. My business man must have time. He will begin and I will send to you as soon as he can borrow it for me, but if you cannot wait you must sell it to one of the others. I am only sorry the post office should have kept them and you waiting. If, on the other hand, you can give me a little time, when you send it please have it packed with its frame, with something over the face of the picture, and send not to New York, but direct to Boston. I write very hastily and am Sincerely yours Isabella S. Gardner

[l Tatti] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Jan.

14, 1902

I was of course delighted that you cabled YlCCHlO. I am confident that it, if any picture I ever got for you, will win your heart. I asked for shipping orders, because in one of your more recent letters you spoke of wishing all pictures sent to Robert. I shall do that if you like, or do all that I can at a distance to see that the picture which is now in London is properly packed and sent thence, direct to you to Boston. I enclose a photograph of another picture. The original is a panel over twice the size of the photograph and was recently acquired by the Colnaghis from Prince Chigi, in whose palace it was the next-door-neighbour of your Botticelli. It was painted by Ercole Roberti, a Ferrarese, a mighty name in Italian art. The subject is that very poetical, mystical one of Abram and Melchisedec. 1 The price is £4,200 (four thousand two hundred pounds). If you want it, please cable YERCOLE. Pierpont Morgan's "Raphael"-the one I urged you not to buy-is exhibited in London at the Old Masters, and critics, I am happy to note, are pretty well agreed about its worthlessness-relatively to pretentions and price. 2 I hope you are at last snug and safe in your new home. Yours ever B.B. » r. Not identified by this title in BB's lists; present location unknown.

»2. Madonna and

Child Enthroned with Saints (main panel of the Colonna altarpiece) is a very early work but not in such bad condition as BB thought. ISG bought one predella panel. The main altarpiece is at The Metropolitan Museum of Art with a second predella panel; see BB to ISG, 9 November 1897. 281


103

Lake Shore Drive Chicago January 17, 1902

Yes, dear Berenson, Fenway Court is the right address. The letter got there and was forwarded so it comes to me this moment. Very many thanks for it. I hope to have the Pintoricchio, but you will see when you get my letter, the money at once is a difficulty to me. Please never believe the papers. They are liars, lst, last, and all the time. My house is only partly done; a year more is necessary and Jan. 6 was not the opening! I do not entertain, even if the house were ready. Hastily good-bye and love- Yours Isabella

[I Tatti] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Jan.

19, 1902

I have just received your note of the 7th, and am horrified at the impression my cable in answer to yours made. I was in the very thick of writing on Pontormo when it came, I mean your cable, and I answered at once, and probably with the phrase that I always use "Send cheque and shipping orders." Now if I had not been half absent minded with my work, and if the man who had brought your cable were not waiting to take mine, I should have reflected and worded my message differently. As it is, I can only beg you to believe that I had no intention whatever of dunning you for the money, and that I beg you to pay it entirely at your convenience. I am writing to London to have the Pintoricchio most carefully packed, and sent straight to Boston. I trust it will reach you in such condition that you will have no cause for complaint. I am in a very fever of work, revising the earlier chapters of my book. It is fearfully exhausting, and makes one stupid for everything else, but there's pleasure in it, as there is in everything that wholly absorbs one. Pierpont Morgan's $soo,ooo Raphael is now on exhibition at the Old Masters in London, and none of the critics have a good word to say for it, but I believe I have told you this already. Yours devotedly B.B.

Dear Berenson

Fenway Court February 27 [ 1902]

What do you know about my picture "Portrait of Michelangelo" by Sebastian del Piombo? Here a doubt is raised. Is it Michelangelo? Is it by Sebastian del Piombo? Tell me what you think and know.


The dear little Pintoricchio has come and is sitting on a chair, looking happy and well. Come. Yours hastily I.S.G. Have they sent you the money?

[I Tatti] Dear Friend,

March

2, 1902

It is a long time since I have heard from you, but as I fear it is as long since I have written to you, I have no right to complain, although I would like to. As for me, I have plenty of excuses in that I have been working about 12 hours a day, until the sight of a pen made me sick. But it is all leading to the end of the job-which I am happy to tell you is at last in sight. And so the weeks and months have passed, and at last it is full spring. Enchanting as ever it comes with its new green, its freshness, its langours, and unrealizable yearnings. I have no news except what Placci told me today. He has just returned from the Riviera where he was staying with the Curtises. 1 They told him that you had been asked to entertain Prince Henry. 2 If you accepted, you must be having him. Well, I congratulate him. At last he will have seen a woman such as all his royal cousins never made him as much as conceive of. But you belong to the people who can appreciate you best-and a year hence I hope to be seeing you at home. I heard such a tale about Pierpont Morgan! 3 His adviser in buying bibelots is a certain elderly gentleman named Mr. Fitzhenry. (He is so called because his father was Henri de Chambord, 4 the last Legitimist Pretendant). Morgan honoured Fitzhenry the other day by coming with several lady friends of his own to dine with him. Fitzhenry put on the table all his pretty Louis Quinze nicknacks, and pretty odds and ends, to the value some two thousand pounds. Well before sitting down, as the ladies were admiring all these pretty things Morgan said to them "You like 'em do you? Put them in your pocket, just put them in your pocket." They nothing loth did put them in their pockets. Fitzhenry thought is well [it was?] all fun and joined in it, but as the time for breaking up approached and the ladies did not show any sign of returning the things he became uneasy. They and Morgan left, and poor Fitzhenry passed an awful night. The next day he called on Morgan at his office, and said "Look here, I am a poor man, and I can't afford to have such things happen as did last night." "Can't afford it," retorted Morgan, "can't afford it! Bless you man, is money any object to you? How much did we carry away?" Fitzhenry, thinking to frighten him off from doing it again, said ÂŁ1,000. But Morgan was nothing daunted. He simply called his secretary. "Mr. Secretary, please make out a cheque for ÂŁ1,000 to Mr. Fitzhenry." He then signed it and gave it, all in the best of humours.


Fitzhenry now longs for another such v1s1t from Morgan and his lady friends. I hope the little Pintoricchio reached you safely and in good condition. I have seldom loved a picture more, and I am convinced that you will like it no less than I do. Yours devotedly B.B. Do, please, let me hear from you soon. »I. Ralph Curtis (18 54-1922) (known as "Raph"), American painter and art collector, and his wife, Lizette (1871-193 3), had a house on the Riviera at Saint-Jean-sur-Mer. After 1904 they continued to live there in the Villa Sylvia, named for their daughter, ISG's godchild. »2. Prince Henry, brother of Emperor William II of Germany, had a very successful tour of the United States, including twenty-four hours in Boston on 6-7 March. He was awarded an honorary degree at Harvard and was entertained by Mrs . J. Montgomery Sears in the Back Bay. ISG's name did not appear in reports of the Boston Transcript. »3. J. Pierpont .Morgan (1837-1913), American financier and philanthropist, began collecting seriously in the 1890s . He became president of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1904. »4. Henri, count de Chambord (1820-83) died without legitimate heir. He was the last heir of Charles X.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[I Tatti] March r r, 1902

I am truly delighted to hear from you even tho' it be a short note of enquiry. The Portrait of Michelangelo by Sebastiano del Piombo that I bought for you years ago, I recommended to you at the time because I was convinced that the features were Michelangelo's and the painting Sebastiano's. Long after you bought it, I happened to be looking over the catalogue* of the famous Orleans Gallery which was sold in London in r 798. There I found indicated "Sebastiano del Piombo, Portrait of Michelangelo." I have no doubt that is the picture I bought for you. 1 That is really all I know about the picture. Nothing you must know is more ticklish than the question of "Who's Who" in portraits. I could write a big book on the subject, and when I have the pleasure of promenading with you thro' your collection I will explain to you the almost insurmountable difficulties of being perfectly sure that a given portrait really does represent a certain person. Look at Rubens's portraits of women. They nearly all might be of the same person. I rejoice that the Pintoricchio has reached you. The money has not come yet. It will be ever so welcome when it does. What weather! A crystal motionless air, and a sparkle. I hope to get away at the end of the week for a fortnight's wandering in the Maremma and about Siena. This will prepare my nerves for the last chapter of my book. Yours devotedly B.B. *See Redford's "Art Sales," Vol. I, p. 73, column left .. » l. An anonymous critic first called it a self-portrait of Baccio Bandinelli when it was exhibited

in London in l 880, and it was again attributed to Bandinelli's hand in the Gardner Museum


193 r catalogue. Although there are a number of likenesses of Bandinelli in prints and in sculp-

ture, this is almost the only painting attributed to him. It was twice published as a portrait of Michelangelo in the last century. Acting on ISG's suggestion that it was not Michelangelo, Charles Eliot Norton identified it as a portrait of Bandinelli, who, as a sculptor, did not appear in BB's lists.

[I Tatti] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

March 17, 1902

You know that it is impossible to get such a thing as a picture by Leonardo. It is equally impossible to get hold of a picture by Leonardo's master, only less great than Leonardo, I mean Verrocchio. So if one wishes to have all that tendency in Florentine art represented in a collection, one is obliged to put up with something by Leonardo's fellow-pupil, Lorenzo di Credi. But Credi also is rare, and when you do come across him he is apt to be stupidyet, even his stupid pictures fetch big prices. I have come across that rarest of things a really lovely picture by Credi. I enclose a photograph. You see it is the youthful Christ supported in the air by the intention rather [than] the help of two angels. They are lovely, delicately drawn, exquisitely coloured and refined. The entire picture is as charming as it is original. And as you see it is a tondo-a typical Florentine roundel. 1 It is on wood, about two feet in diameter. The price as prices now go is very reasonable-two thousand five hundred pounds (ÂŁ2, 500). Strangers are trooping here, and several people will soon be passing thro' who will snap up this picture if you don't take it. So please cable in case you want it, and cable without delay-YEREDI. Marvellous weather, and we are off today for a fortnight wandering between Siena and Rome. Yours ever B.B. Âť r . The Ascension of Saint Louis with Two Angels passed through many hands before it was

purchased from Duveen by Henry E. Huntington. It now hangs in the Huntington Library.

Dear Berenson

Fenway Court April l, 1902

You are making the mistake of your life, you should come here. I am sorry, but I can't buy the Credi. My remaining pennies must go to the greatest Raphael, and the greatest Michelangelo. Nothing short of that. I have tasted blood you see. Yours Isabella What an Easter. Pure joy.


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[I Tatti] April ro, 1902

I still have to thank you for the ÂŁ4,000 you were good enough to send me. It reached me in my wanderings, when I scarcely had as much as pen and paper wherewith to write. My object was to spend as much time in the open air as possible, but always with something to see in the course of the 1 day. I visited for the first time several places such as Corneto and Toscanella that I had never seen before, and then we established ourselves at Siena, and took long drives every day. The Sienese country is to me only less fascinating than its art, and its art somehow suits my whim, touches my fancy, is mine in a sense that no other is. And I love it all the more because hitherto it has not become fashionable, because it still is looked upon by genuine lovers only and not by culture-snobs. We returned a couple of days ago to find spring not yet triumphant but marching forward hourly in radiant splendour to its goal. The fresh green is replacing the old, the withered leaves are being pushed off from the oak by the new buds, and the smell of the beanfields is almost intoxicating. Then such skies and such effects of light as we are having! Before I left I wrote recommending you to buy a very charming tondo by Lorenzo di Credi. I begged you to cable the answer, and as you have not done so yet, I fear I have not persuaded you. Nothing daunted, I return to the charge, but with another picture of which I enclose the photograph. It is a Madonna about 2 feet high by Lorenzo Costa. 2 She has the severity combined with tenderness of the early works of Giov. Bellini, is of splendid colour, fine preservation, and altogether an important picture. Aside from its intrinsic qualities, it is of very great interest as being an early work by a master whose position and influence in the history of Italian Art was truly extraordinary. By birth and education a Ferrarese, a pupil of Tura and Cossa, he finally settled down in Bologna. There he entered into partnership with Francia, and changed Francia from the mere goldsmith he had been hitherto into a painter. Among his pupils was Timoteo Viti who was the master of Raphael, and later on Correggio himself. When Mantegna died, Costa was called to Mantua to replace him as court painter in the brilliant court of Isabella d'Este. So you see I urge you to buy a picture remarkable not only as a work of art, but as an admirable specimen by a painter who was the master of Correggio, and almost the master of Raphael, and who was thought worthy of succeeding Mantegna as court painter at Mantua. The price will not frighten you. It is cheap as dirt-nine hundred pounds (ÂŁ900). I feel justified in pressing you to purchase a picture of so reasonable a price, of such artistic merit, and of such historical interest. If I succeed in persuading you please cable without delay YECOSTA. I am started on the last chapter of my book, and if all goes well, I hope 286


it will be finished in a few weeks. Then there will be months of hard work seeing it through the press-and what rejoicing there will be when finally it is published. Yours devotedly B.B. » l. Corneto (medieval name) is now the town ofTarquinia; Toscanella (medieval name) is now the town of Tuscania. Both are located in Latium, central Italy. »2 . This Madonna by Lo-

renzo Costa is probably the picture owned by BB and sold to John G . Johnson in 1908 . It is now in the Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

[I Tatti] Dear Friend,

May

II, I902

You will be glad to hear that my book is done at last. I confess there were times when I scarcely hoped to finish it. The task was so difficult and so interminable. And why have I spent seven of the best years of life upon it? Few people will be able to appreciate its merits, or even to give me credit for the labour I have put into it. But one works not because one wants to, but because one must. An angel or a demon impels one. In a few days we are off to England, and there we shall remain till the book is through the press. Of course heaps of people have been there, among them Davis. He has bought at least one gross forgery. When we told him so he called in as experts the Costantinis. The son Costantini, a plausible young knave, has toadied and catered to Davis in a way that has turned Davis's head. So Davis no longer does anything without consulting Costantini. But the joke of the affair is that this forgery on which Davis called in Costantini to give judgment was, as turns out, to have been forged by young Costantini himself!!! But such is Davis's infatuation that he won't hear of his picture being a forgery or that Costantini did it. We proposed his submitting it to Cavenaghi, but he refuses. This is the fifth forgery which Davis to my knowledge has bought. A very different sort of man from Davis has bought a place near us to spend in it only a few weeks each spring. He is a Mr. H. W Cannon of New York, a really delightful person. 1 He regards you as a benefactor for having brought so many works of art to America. Have you received a letter from me about a Costa Madonna with a photograph enclosed? It is a picture you should buy. Please address after this to Baring Bros. London. Yours devotedly B.B. » r. Henry White Cannon (1850-1934), president and later chairman of the Chase National

Bank, art collector, and resident of Florence, helped arrange a loan at 6 percent to BB to purchase I Tatti in 1908 .


Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass May 23 [1902]

Hip, hip, hurrah. So the book is done! What is the title? ~nd when do you come to America? I say it all in one breath, as the one ought instantly to follow the other. This place this morning is as good as Heaven. If you were only here and could breathe the air! I wrote some time ago now, that I could not have the picture. Only the very tip top for me now! I must leave this open window, and you, and go to work. Yours Isabella P. S. Where did my Giotto come from?

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Interlaken] May 3 l, 1902

I had no idea that this was so delightful a place. At this time of year it certainly is. The broad meadows with the grass waist deep, spread out between the mountains, are a refreshing sight. And directly you get into the hills you can wander endlessly thro' tall beech woods, affording an almost impenetrable shade. Ten days here have set me up wondrously, and I now feel more fit for the hurly burly of London wherein I shall be plunged in another three days. Just as I was leaving Italy the parliament of that noble land passed a law. Happily you have garnered in your treasures, so that you will not be greatly affected. The law is this: Every house shall be searched for works of art. These works of art shall be divided into two classes. The first class can under no circumstances be sold out of the country. The second only on payment of 20째/o of the value as export duty. No one may sell at all, even within the country, without first getting a permit from the government. Contravention will be' treated as a penal offence, punished not only with fines but even imprisonment. The result will be of course to raise enormously the price of Italian pictures that no longer are in Italy. But it is hard on people like myself who have put their savings into pictures and kept them in Italy. True, I have bought them to keep, but at the same time, felt that [at] a pinch I could sell. Now that has been rendered difficult or impossible. But you see how wise you were to buy as you have done. Your Italian collection is nearly complete. It is now time to supplement it with a few great fifteenth-century Flemings and Germans. The difficulty however is to get hold of them. The Berlin people, both public and private, are always ready to pay any price for them.


I wonder have you read one of Maeterlinck's last plays, Soeur Beatrice? It is one of the most delicate, fervent, and dream-like things I have ever come across. Do try it. It is very short. It is the old legend of the nun who runs away with a lover while the Virgin takes her place thro' the long years that the nun was away. Yours ever devotedly B.B. Address Baring Bros. London

London Dear Friend,

June

8, 1902

I arrived a couple of days ago, and found your warm words of congratulation, for which you have my heartiest thanks. But I am not thro' the woods yet. Although I have finished writing the leviathan of a book, I have by no means done with it. I must see it thro' the press, and that will take until late into the autumn, and until it is finished I must be ready to see the printer at any day. So I shall go no farther from London than to Haslem ere. When the book is printed it will be too late to go to America for anything like a decent stay unless I am prepared for bearding our New England winter. Now after l 5 years of wintering in the climate of Italy, I scarcely dare to do that. So my plan is to return to Florence for the winter, and go to America in April-for a stay of 6 months. Once there you shall have as much as you can stand of me. Family affections apart, you are more to me than all the other friends I have there put together. Your Giotto belonged to J. P. Richter. I have a piece of good news which may or may not concern you. It is that I have succeeded in getting out of Italy my most precious possession. I am going to sell it, but before letting any one else see it, I shall offer it to you. I hope to be able to tell you all about it in a few days. Pierpont Morgan's last escapade is the purchase of a small statue supposed to be Pollaiuolo's, but obviously a forgery. 1 He paid ÂŁ6,ooo for it, not including commissions and expenses. Yours devotedly B.B. Address Baring Bros. London. Âť r. This bronze of Paris was sold by Morgan's estate to Henry Clay Frick in 1916. It is now

catalogued as by an anonymous sculptor from Nuremberg, first half of the sixteenth century.

London Dear Mrs. Gardner,

June

18, 1902

The awful weather we have been having has made it next to impossible to photograph, and now that the print has come it is a wretched one, all distorted in the shadows, and doing the picture every injustice. But as there is no reason why the weather should ever improve, and as time is pressing, I


send you this miserable proof of the treasure that I have succeeded in rescuing out of the clutches of the Italian government. It is a Madonna just under life size by Perugino-mark you an authentic, unquestionable Perugino, and of the grandest, highest order. 1 The Madonna is not as in so many of his inferior works, simpering, and vapid. Here she is matronly, tender, the mother. She sits enthroned in her spacious niche smiling with inner joy at the Child in her lap. He is beautifully painted with the little bird in His hand, and her hands and arms encompass him in the most exquisite way. Then the Virgin is nobly draped with splendidly balanced folds. In brief as design this Madonna is of an amplitude, and beauty of arrangement that betray the hand of Raphael's master. You may be able to follow me in what I have said so far, even with the wretched photograph as the only witness of my words. But the real merit of the picture is its colour. It glows like the golden sunset on a summer day, and this glow of the flesh tints is splendidly contrasted with the severe stone colour of the niche. A very special beauty of this picture is that the usual blue green of the Madonna is picked out with gold. You can see this in the photograph where all this shows as so many white dots. It is on panel, 43 V2 inches high, by 26 3/4 inches wide. I need not tell you who Perugino is, and how rare his works are. Look thro' the list of his works that I give in my Central Italian Painters) and you will see how few of them are in private hands. Of these not one can possibly be compared with my Madonna) except the Albani altarpiece. But that-if you have not bought it already-will not leave Italy, unless a revolution happens first. It is because a collection like yours can not be without a specimen of such a great master as Perugino that I offer this picture to you first. But for the monstrous law recently passed in Italy, I should not have thought of selling it. Nor is it a picture to go begging. But if possible I want it to join his master Fiorenzo, his fellow-pupil Pintoricchio, and his pupil Raphael in your collection. And mentioning Raphael, reminds me to say that Perugino is actually much rarer, and that to understand Raphael to the full you should see him alongside of Perugino. If you get this picture you will have a unique succession of Umbrians from the founder Fiorenzo to the culmination Raphael. Finally, the Perugino I am offering you is the finest that has appeared since the sale of Sciarra's St. Sebastian to the Louvre, for which, ten and more years ago, when Italian pictures were not worth a tenth of what they are worth now, 750,000 francs. That is to say ÂŁ30,000 was asked, and I believe given. Of course I am asking nothing of that sort. Of you I am asking the least at which I can afford to sell it-ÂŁ4, 500 (four thousand and five hundred pounds). It is considerably less than what I shall ask of others if you do not take it, but to your collection I stand in a 1nore than business relation, and so I ask the least I can. But if I must sell it, this is the moment, when 290


London is crowded with people ready to buy at any price. So please come to a decision as soon as possible, and if, as I trust, it is favourable, cable Berenson, Barings, London YEGlNO. Yours ever B.B. » l . The Perugino was sold by BB to Johnson in 1909 .

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline June 30, [1902]

It seems now some time since you wrote that soon you were going to tell me of a picture of yours, your very best, that would be for sale. But perhaps your mind is changed. If you do write about it, please tell me where you got it, and where it formerly lived. Do you remember once going with me to a place in Rome where there seemed to be millions of pictures, all of which you said were not the kind I wanted, but you were much interested in them and said they were the kind for you and U mbrian. Tell me who that man was, and if you got any there. I have since that time had several letters from someone about pictures (Umbrian) that you had been interested in, they said. I have mislaid the letters, or destroyed them, but if you tell me the name I think I should recall it. The Mrs. S. D. Warren pictures are now on exhibition here, but do not interest me. I think one of the things I dislike most is the repairing work done by the Milan man whose name begins with C, and whose name I never remember. There is a Crivelli in the Warren Collection that is a sore pity. 1 It is so done over by that man, that who really sees not one mite bit of Crivelli. The Milan man's work is wonderfully amazing, but I never want that sort of thing. By the bye, if you ever do tell me about your mysterious "best picture" and tell me where you got it, will you also please say if the Milan repairer's hand has been upon it. What a seething turmoil the postponed coronation must have made. 2 When are you coming over? This is a wonderful summer, cool and with an atmosphere of dreams, but not blood let[?] ones. Yours I. S. Gardner » l. The Warren Crivelli, Pieta with Saint John and the Magdalen, went to the Boston Museum

of Fine Arts in 1902. Mrs. S. D. Warren's paintings were on exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts April-September 1902. Through her bequest a number of paintings were bought from her estate. »2. The coronation of Edward VII, set for 26 June, was postponed until 9 Au gust because on 24 June the kin g underwent a serious operation.

291


Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Haslemere] July 12, 1902

I received your letter of June 30 several days ago, but have been so busy winding up my London season, seeing dealers and collectors, publishers, printers and lithographers, that I could not get an hour to write to you. We came here last night, I dead beat. But I woke this morning to the sound of the birds. It is like heaven here, and the weather is just warm enough to sit out, and cool enough to bask in the sun. My letter telling you all about my Perugino must have reached you directly after you wrote me. I have nothing to add to what I said there except to assure you that the picture is much finer than either the photograph or my words can give you any idea of-and to answer your questions. In the first place about the Sterbini Collection in Rome where we went together to see a forged "Fra Angelico." 1 As I told you then, I had been there before with Davis whom they tried to sell several fakes. After our visit I returned there once on account of various Sienese pictures which interested me as a student. As I am devoted to the Sienese, I tried to buy one or two of them, but the prices asked were fabulous. They would sell me one picture at a reasonable price. I saw it in the dim light of the apartment, and altho' I should have known better, took it. Directly it reached me at Florence I examined it, and saw at once that it was a forgery. To make sure, I applied chemical tests, and the whole beastly thing came away. Of course I did not let on that I had been taken in, but since then, I have given the Sterbini Collection a wide berth. For your benefit I enclose a copy of my notes of that collection. You will see that there is nothing there worthy of your collection-besides the risk that any one may be a forgery. I bought my Perugino two years ago at Florence of a dealer named Manetti. That is all I know really regarding its origin. He assured me that he had got it at Castiglione Fiorentino. That may or not be so. Castiglione is not far from Perugia. The reason I never bother you with provenance of pictures-unless I know that they are to be relied upon-is that the invention of provenance is the easiest thing in the world, and the person who credits a dealer's tale of where a picture comes from is an even greater innocent than the one who takes stock in a dealer's attributions. My Perugino has been cleaned and varnished by Cavenaghi of Milan. He is the man who years ago restored the Chigi Botticelli. When I first knew that picture it was so covered with old grime and bad varnish, besides being cracked, that excepting Morelli and myself, nobody would believe it to be a Botticelli, or take any interest in it. Cavenaghi joined the cracks, cleaned off the grime and varnish, and there came out the masterpiece that you now own, that the whole world has seen and admired, and that betrays


no touch of any hand but Botticelli's own. If you do not dislike what Cavenaghi has done on the Chigi Botticelli you will not dislike what he has done with my Perugino. Like all pictures that have been in churches for four centuries it was dirty, was slightly blistered, and dried. Cavenaghi has removed the dirt, has put down the blisters, and now there is nothing on the picture but what Perugino left there, and could he come back to life he would rejoice. The truth is I can not understand your feeling against Cavenaghi. It must be due to a misunderstanding. The only one of the Warren pictures that passed thro' his hands was the Crivelli. Well this Crivelli, altho' I admire it greatly as a work of art, is a picture I would let none of my friends who consulted me about it buy-and at least five different ones did consult me. My reason was that it was already restored, and that the gold ground was entirely new. The only one almost of my buying friends who did not consult me about it was Warren, and he bought it without my knowledge. He sent it to Cavenaghi, who would not have taken the picture at all, but for Richter's and my warm commendation. Cavenaghi did what he could. He removed what restorations there were on the flesh parts. These are now very much better than they were. But he could not do anything else, for Cavenaghi is not like all other restorers a bungler or a forger. He does nothing but to remove dirt, bad varnish, and restoration, and then leaves the picture, adding nothing of his own but a varnish of his own invention. This varnish at first is a little shiny, but the shininess soon passes away, and then the varnish acts like an enamel to protect the painting. I could not blame you for thinking ill of Cavenaghi if the Warren Crivelli was his doing. But, as I have explained, it is not, and you can safely return to the opinion you had of him before when you heartily agreed to my doing all I could to induce him to go to Paris, and to clean and varnish all your pictures there. This we agreed to when I had the pleasure of accompanying you to Sicily. I thereupon did my best to get Cavenaghi, but in vain. The truth is that he is one of the most highly considered, but also one of the busiest people alive. It is the hardest thing to get him to work for one, and as the dealers can scarcely ever induce him to do anything for them, they have no alternative but to run him down. In London I seldom see a dealer but he implores me to use my influence with Cavenaghi to get him to work for them. For the dealer almost invariably restores a picture before selling it, but as he has only bungling restorers, he ruins the pictures. The dealer however has one enormous advantage over me. The dealer does not mind what lies he tells if he can induce a customer to buy, and I do mind. He would swear that a picture was not touched, when he himself had restored it from head to foot. My position is more difficult. Even if I had no feeling of honour, I have a reputation to sustain as a scholar. The friends for whom I buy will get ample credit for their taste and generosity, but in the natural order of things ! shall be kicked for the mistakes. Depend upon it I am no 293


lover of kicks, and I do all I can to avoid them. I would, for instance, about as soon urge you to buy a faked-up picture, as I would break into a bank. The whole question of restoration is one of the most difficult, I could write a very big book about it, if life were long enough. I could talk about it by the day, and that I shall if you are interested, when I come to stay with you in a few months. There are not six people alive who have the right to an opinion about restoration. I have been studying the matter for fifteen years, and what little I know of the matter I owe to Cavenaghi, whom I reverence as the one person I call my master. He has Rontgen rays, so to speak, in his eyes. He sees eighth of an inch by eighth of an inch what has happened to a picture, and he operates upon it with the same loving tenderness and sovereign skill that a great surgeon uses when operating upon a vital organ. One of my great regrets is that he never put your Europa, your Pesellinos, and your first Botticelli in order. Look at your own Giotto, and your Paris Bordone. I knew them well before Cavenaghi had cleaned them for Richter. They were always fine, but you can scarcely conceive how much finer they look now. Cavenaghi's real business is to take away from a picture all that dirt, and grime, and bad varnish, and stupidity have done to a picture, and to bring it back to the condition in which its painter left it. That he can do as no one has ever been able to do-provided the original is left under all the dirt etc. etc. This was not the case with the Warren Crivelli. It is the case with my Perugino, and that is why I urge you to buy it, not as a favour to me, but as a masterpiece I want you to add to your collection, which it would enrich. I enclose another photograph. I am not showing the picture to anyone till you have decided, so please, as a favour I beg you to decide soon, and to cable if favourable YEGlNO. I am tired of writing-not you of reading I hope. Yours devotedly B. B. Âť r. The Giulio Sterbini Collection, Rome; a catalogue by A. Venturi appeared in 1906.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Haslemere] July 19, 1902

Do you remember you asked me some months ago about your portrait of Michelangelo by S. del Piombo? I have this minute come across the following entry in that very famous and authoritative book published in l 8 54 Waagen's Art Treasures in Great Britain:-Claverton, Collection of Mr. Vivian.1 "Andrea del Sarto-A portrait of Michelangelo, whole-length, seated, and pointing to a very red drawing of Hercules with a fallen opponent, is thus named; but judging from the conception of the very animated head, the drawing of the hands, and the whole colouring, I am inclined to attrib294


ute this interesting picture to Sebastiano del Piombo." Waagen, vol. III, p. 176. When I recommended you to buy this picture I knew nothing about it, except that it seemed to me certainly a portrait of Michelangelo by S. del Piombo. I then, as I wrote to you a few months ago, found it mentioned as portrait of Mich. by S. del Piombo, in the Orleans Collection. I am delighted to discover for you what became of the picture later, and that Waagen had the same impression of it that I had. The post is going so no more. Yours ever B.B. G. Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 3 vols. and supplement (London, 1854, 1857). Gustav Friederich Waagen (1794-1868) was the director of the Royal Gallery of Pictures, Berlin. ÂťI.

Old Place Beverly Farms July 29, 1902 This is not my address. I arn only here for two days with Mrs. Whitman. 1 Write still and for a long time, to Green Hill, dear Berenson. Long before this gets to you, you will have got my letter about your beautiful Perugino. It is a beauty, but in view of my money, I must keep every cent for the one or two big things I dream of. I wrote in my letter about it, to explain, as I could not do by cable. The photo is a joy and I have it now by me. Please don't collapse. Please get through that beastly book and please come. I don't think this place would please you. I have got very tired at work, and have come here for two or three days. I am fond of Mrs. Whitman and the change is good, but such an un-private place. A little square of land about the house, with a long and beautiful sandy beach under the windows, and plenty of trees. But next door neighbors within a stone's throw; the beach covered with people; the steam cars running parallel to it the other side of the house; and the most out-of-tune hand organ going it that I have ever heard. If only this very pretty house, the water, the trees and the people (myself included) could exist here without the others! But Brookline-I really love Brookline! And I am making a fete of showing it to you. When? I thank you very much for writing me such a long, kind letter when you were "dead beat"-"wet rabbit"-! should call it! I am most interested in all you say about Sterbini and Cavenaghi. Didn't he work over the Basaiti? 2 Oh, in looking at my Bacchiaccha (the Lady's portrait) the other day I found the back in a terrible condition, apparently cradled, but only a mock cradling glued on to the real back of the picture which was riddled and alive with worms! Of course I and Potter (who is a wonder) went for it, and I hope harm can be stopped. Potter is all you say Cavenaghi is, and a godsend to us here. 295


You always make me laugh when you speak about dealers-to me, who never say anything of anyone of them, never speak to them, and never have the least thing to do with them! Does your heart ache with mine for Venice? Half of me seems gone. Always yours Isabella Âť r. Mrs . William Whitman was the artist Sarah de St. Prix Wyman (1842-1904) . Âť2. Probably the Basaiti Pieta at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, gift of E . P. Warren in 1890.

Dear Friend,

[Haslemere] Coronation Day Aug. 9, 1902

I am so glad it is a beautiful day and not at all too warm. I have a great weakness for the King, who is so jolly and debonaire a figure-and after all the prophecies that have been afloat to the effect that he never would be crowned, I rejoice that the hour has come and that-so far as we here in the country know, he is safe. I am so sorry that you do not feel as if you could take my Perugino. If you had one, I should not dream of urging you to buy mine. But in a collection like yours, a Perugino is indispensable. To have a Fiorenza, a Pintoricchio, and two Raphaels but no Perugino is like possessing a magnificent palace without an entrance portal, and without a grand staircase. All along in advising you about purchases, I have had my eye out not only for great pictures, and great names, but for continuity of series. That is why I return to the charge, and urge you once more to reconsider the question. I have good hopes of selling it in Boston if you do not take it; but that would not be at all the same thing to me. So when you get this, and change your mind, and cable YEGINO, you still will have the picture. Just a word more about Cavenaghi. His business is with the painted surface of pictures, and not with their backs. Besides, no specialist in the treatment of panels in Europe can have any idea of what becomes of them in America, and how they are to be treated to resist the extraordinary conditions of our climate. So that I regard Mr. Potter-whom I shall be greatly pleased to know, as a perfect God-send, but not as a rival of Cavenaghi. To be a Cavenaghi, one has to combine such connoisseurship as I happen to have, with the combined skill of a great surgeon and an old Italian master. Besides the ' Chigi Botticelli two other of your pictures have been restored by him-the Giotti and the Bordone. I wish I could join you at once at Green Hill. I was there but once or twice, and remember it with such pleasure! I was a fresh, faun-like boy then; the place was Paradise, and you-well I shall not atte1npt to say what I thought you! I shall return [to] it a very broken down youngish oldish little man. How I wish I could go back to the pulse-beat, and sparkle of


those days! Now, I just barely live. Writing a letter, correcting a little proof, gives me a headache and tires me for the day. So I do nothing. I can not without an effort read such an enchanting book as Maeterlinck's last-Le temple enseveli. 1 Have you seen it yet? It is the first effort to express in noble phrase the feelings inspired by our orphaned condition in the universe, all our yearnings for order, for unity, for harmony with a Principle-which we can not conceive as existing. But to return to myself, I lounge about all day, reading the papers, memoirs and letters; for novels bore me. Mary, her mother, and brother are teaching me whist. The country here is of the loveliest. It is the most rural imaginable, and yet not a wilderness. You can wander all day along silent secret paths where the sun seldom enters, where you almost never meet a soul. I fear I shall have to put off going home till April. My book will scarcely be thro' the press before that. Even if it were, I should scarcely dare to face our notorious winter climate after having wintered for fifteen years in the South. But my strongest reason is that I should be ashamed to show myself in my present condition even to you from whom I could expect some indulgence. Upon others I should produce the impression of being an idiot. And I must produce the best impression I can; for if I live on, I must earn a living. With .all the experience I have had in buying, and the control I easily could have of the market, advising about pictures is the path marked out for me. But you have now nearly had your fill. It is true I have several other friends and acquaintances who buy on my advice. But I could sell ten times as much as I do now, without taking more trouble, if only I had a larger circle of friends. I know I can rely on you to help me enlarge this circle, can't I. We want America to have as many good pictures as possible. You have had the cream, other collections will only enhance the superior merit of yours. Mary especially begs to be remembered. Devotedly B.B. Âť r. Le Temple enseveli, a collection of essays, was published in Paris in 1902.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. Aug. 16 [ 1902]

Please hunt this up, and see what it can be bought for, and if it is goodPiero di Cosimo I am fond of. How are you and how does my A No r. Raphael Madonna get on? You surprise me by calling Waagen so authoritative. Aren't you too kind to him? Hastily yours I. S. Gardner Please return this slip of paper to me. 297


Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. Aug. 20 [ 1902]

Alas, alas, it cannot be. That Perugino must go elsewhere. All my remaining money is tied up now, and I wait for the greatest of Raphael Madonnas! When? Oh, don't put off coming until April. I fear Fenway Court will be closing for the season, as I come out here the end of that month. So Ed. VII is crowned. I too, am very glad. He is a jolly Soul-Rastaquouere really-as I once heard some one call him. Never has Green Hill been so beautiful. With kindest wishes and remembrances to both of you. Yours I.S.G.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Haslemere] Aug. 28, 1902

The reason why I have not written to you about the Piero di Cosimo on sale Battle of Centaurs and Lapithae regarding which you now inquire, is the fact that four or five years ago [ l 5 August l 897] I urged you very hard to buy it. I believe it was then to be had for ÂŁ1,000. Now I can not get it for less than ÂŁ2,650 (two thousand six hundred and fifty pounds). This will include all charges except insurance. I am sending you an article by my friend Herbert Horne in which you will find the picture reproduced. On seeing it, I am sure you will recall my offering it to you before. How I wish you had bought it then! The price asked now, altho' more than double, is very reasonable as prices now go. If you want me to get it for you please cable YECOSIMO. But do so, if you take my advice, only if you can afford it, as well as the picture of which I shall write now. I am feeling so ill that I meant to delay till the next post, but I know you prefer to be told of all that is on the stocks before deciding of any one. So you will try not to mind my dullness and let the picture of which I now shall write speak for itself. You ask "how does my A No. l Raphael Madonna get on?" Not very well I fear. A Raphael that is completely autograph and in good condition is as good as hopeless. I make no doubt very attractive pictures passing themselves off as Raphael are to be had, but nothing real. So if possible try to rest contented with the two Raphaels you have already, and turn your attention to something no less great if not greater. Now ever since I have been buying for you I have been looking for a picture by a genius whom I place as high if not higher than any other, but whose works are so very rare that a really important one is almost unknown as coming into the market in our day. I refer to Diirer, the master whom Raphael and Michelangelo considered as their equal, the master whom Ti-


tian continually copied, the greatest artist ever born north of the Alps. His slightest drawings fetch enormous prices, and the other day at the Robinson Sale a mere copy of an engraving by Diirer representing a skull and a coat of arms fetched a relatively big price. 1 But like all the masters of the North Diirer was greatest in his portraits. It may be questioned whether for grandeur of conception, and depth of insight any other portraitist has ever rivalled him. Well I have found a portrait by him, signed and dated, and if I mistake not, the most magnificent he ever painted. The photograph that I am sending will tell you more about it that I can. Along with it I am sending a book containing reproductions of all Diirer's known paintings. I invite you to look thro' this book, and see if I am not right when I assure you that the one I am offering you is of a grander style, and a more attractive subject than any other whatsoever. The most famous of all are the Imhoff at Madrid (opposite page l 14) and the Holtzschuer at Berlin (facing page 126). Look and see whether they are not both beaten by this one. How much more the gentleman, how much more of the eternally contemporary there is about the one I wish you to buy! The Imhoff is a surly brute, the Holtzschuer is a little too German. This one has the capable, piercing, grand look of a man of all times. It is on solid German panel, 19 5/g inches high by 12 5/8 inches wide. On the top it is dated l 52 l and signed with the monogram 16\. 2 The background is greyish blue, the coat black, the sleeve red, claret red, and the fur brown. The price is £1 l,ooo (eleven thousand pounds). To give you an idea how reasonable this is let me tell you that the Holtzschuer cost Berlin £16,000-and that 25 years ago. On page 7 of the book on Diirer I am sending you, you will find the reproduction of a portrait which has been so repainted that no trace of the original remains. Nevertheless Leo[pold] Goldschmid of Paris paid over £10,000 for it. So you see this really is a bargain. You have the first offer of it, and I beg you to take it, and not wait until it has been bought by others made famous by exhibitions and advertisements, and then offered for more than double the price now asked-altho' at even double the price I still should urge you to buy it. But you really must not delay, for a picture like this has ten buyers where the greatest of Italian pictures finds but one. There is the National Gallery which has no Diirer at all; there is Berlin which buys every Diirer it can lay hold of at any price; there are the millionaire German Jews, not to speak of our millionaires on the look out for such a picture. It really is owing to a great many efforts on my part that I am able to give you the first offer. I hope I shall not have worked in vain. Remember you could not add anything to your collection which would so greatly enrich it. So please make up your mind, and for the sake of your collection and all my deep interest in it, cable YEDURER. If you want the P. di Cosimo as well cable YEDUROSIMO. 299


I really am scarcely well enough to write. I have moments of great discouragement about my health; and for one accustomed to all my activity, it is sad to find oneself unable to write even a note without getting a splitting headache, unable to take a short walk without panting. You ask whether I am not too kind to Waagen. I am not. You must judge people by what they were in their day. For his day Waagen knew as much as could be known, and far more than anyone else did. Certain painters, like S. del Piombo in his later phases could be as well known as they are now; and that is why I was glad to see he already had identified your portrait as being of Michelangelo and by Sebastiano. Yours devotedly B.B. » r. ISG bought this copy after the Diirer engraving for £720 from the Robinson Sale. »2.

Diirer's Man in a Fur Coat was bought by ISG from Colnaghi.

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. Sept. 13 [1902]

Dear Berenson

Did it come to l l, ooo pounds or could you get it for less? Let me know by letter what exactly I should pay, and if to you Care Barings? My poor Mr. Swift1 has been started on the hunt for the money, amidst weepings and wailings! The photograph and book at last arrived. I do wish the thing did not look so like Napoleon-not that I don't like N. but not as a Diirer. Please don't misunderstand me, when I ask what good is there in the Centaur picture. I asked because some one else here had been hired to snatch it for the National Gallery-I can't buy, even if I would. Don't lose hope for the Raphael Madonna, or I shall surely be unhappy. I am too too sorry you have gone to pieces-I am cross with you about it too, because I have always said you must come to America and rest. [No signature but obviously finished.] » r.

Henry Swift, ISG's accountant.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[Haslemere] Sept. 23, 1902

I have not yet written to congratulate you on your purchase of the Diirer. When your cable came I was scarcely well enough to write, so I only cabled back "Diirer yours" as soon as the affair was arranged. I still am awaiting your shipping orders. My health was getting worse and worse, until the last specialist whom I consulted put me on a diet of eggs and milk at every two hours. Within a few days I felt an immense difference and gained three pounds of weight. 300


The improvement has not kept up at the same pace, but I hope at least to save myself from a complete nervous breakdown. We are having our summer at last, glowing warm days calling forth all the hidden fragrance of pine and bracken. And we are in country that nature and man have fashioned to the utmost loveliness. It reminds me of nothing so much as Titian's backgrounds, and the rare cottages, the great houses, and hoary villages, nestle in it as if they were coeval with the hills and valleys. What a pleasure to feel beauty again. Yours ever B.B.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline October 22, 1902

I am getting nervous about your health as I always do, if I do not hear. It is now very long, since I had a cable from you that the Diirer was mine. And when the transaction was begun, I wrote immediately to you, asking for all details, and what was the exact and last price I was to pay, and giving instructions to have the picture sent to E. A. Snow, but from that time to this, not one word from you. I am really terribly worried. Please, if you are too ill to write, ask your wife to let me have a line to say how you are. I shall hope for the best until I hear. I shall be here a month longer, and pray that the warm weather may go on its way, rejoicing all our hearts. Without coal the sun is doubly dear. If you are well and can write, tell me what was your row with Costantini. They say (and particularly he says) that he has wonderful things. He has sent me a photograph of an Ivory Madonna. 1 If it ought to be mine, for what price can you get it? Praying that everything is well, I am Yours I.S.G. Davis's Madonna, probably the French fifteenth-century ivory that went to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ÂťI.

[I Tatti] Dear Friend,

Nov.

2, 1902

Nearly two months have elapsed since I have heard from you, and I am getting anxious over your long silence. You have not written even to tell me where to sent the Diirer which awaits your orders. I hope that you are well. As you see I am in Italy again, and I can not tell you what a pleasure it is to be back. I have been away nearly six months, long enough to make me feel with freshness and newness the beauties of this Paradise. The weather is delicious, warmer now than it was in England in mid-summer. I enjoy as 301


a novelty the limpid, dazzling skies, the sharp outlines, the almost metallic lustre of Nature. We returned but two days ago, having spent a fortnight on our way. Most of this we passed near Varese in one of the few most beautiful spots on earth, as wonderful at least as Naples, or Taormina, although very different from either. We were staying with a dear friend who let me live an invalid's life. An invalid I still am, and shall be, I fear, for months to come, but when you see me in April, I hope to be better than I have been in years. Meanwhile I shall avoid all work except what is connected with the publication of my book-and even that work will be very slight, thanks to my wife. So I shall read novels, and do nothing, and enjoy the feeble pleasures of convalescence. Dear me-how I wish you were here to enjoy our skies and air! Yours devotedly B.B.

[I Tatti] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Nov.

9, 1902

It was I who was getting anxious about you, not having heard from you ior six weeks at least. So I am awfully glad to receive your note of Oct. 22, and to learn that you at least are all right. As I wrote you a week ago, I am somewhat better, and with good care I hope to improve steadily. But it is hard work, hardest of all-to do nothing. I am so accustomed to hard work that without it I do not know what to do, and for months to come I must not even read anything that absorbs me, or get into interesting conversation. I must just be bored. I really do not understand what becomes of the letters we write to one another. About two months ago I wrote to tell you r)that the lowest price of the Diirer was eleven thousand pounds (ÂŁ1 l,ooo), and 2) to beg you to let me have your shipping orders. Not a word did I have from you in all that time. But now you tell me to send the Diirer to E. A. Snow, and it shall be done at once. It tires me too much to write at length, so I have asked Mary to write you all about Costantini. They are as much more scoundrelly than most other Italian dealers, then Italian dealers are less honourable than English gentlemen. The Costantinis have taught me the depths of human perfidy. However, this won't prevent my going to see the ivory, and reporting to you. Only I warn you that more and more impudently do the Italian dealers trade in forgeries, and the greatest of this ring are the Costantinis. But let me end with my warmest thanks for your interest in my health. Yours devotedly B. B. 302


[I Tatti] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Nov.

10, 1902

Bernhard has asked me to write to you about the Costantinis, and I shall venture to take this occasion to say what I have wanted to say to you ever since we were n1.arried, but have not had quite the courage to say. It is simply that Bernhard feels a most genuine devotion to you, and that he has made me (to some extent) appreciate all you have been to him. It is not only that when he was young and unknown you confided to him heavy and honourable responsibilities, it is the way you did it-as different from most people who have sought his advice as a Queen from a petty Merchant! He loves the splendid way in which you have carried out your ideas, and is proud that you associated him with it, and really burns to be of use to you, partly because of his intellectual appreciation of your ideal, but largely too because ... well, because you have made him so very devoted to you personally. He is afraid of going to America, the excitement of it, the voyage and all (for he is awfully tired), but as you will not come over here he says he must go back in the Spring to see you. You have given him the feeling that you will be glad to see him, and that means more than anything else. You have that power to call up chivalrous devotion. Our charming friend, Mounteney Jephson, was always speaking of you, somewhat as B.B. does, although with less understanding of your impersonal love of Beautiful Things-but with an intense devotion. Alas-poor Mounteney-the fates press him severely. He went to New Zealand last January for his health. I felt worried at not hearing from him for months, and my worst fears were justified by a cable I received ten days ago-"Both operations successful, but am very weak"-dated from the Hospital, Napier. I suppose he will now remain a long time out there. What a story of misfortunes! In case you do not know his address-for I did not know it all summer-it is Government House, Wellington, N.Z. But I will speak of the Costantinis, and crave your indulgence for a long, sordid story. I am afraid there are no dealers whom one may trust implicitly, but even among dealers, Costantini is one of the lowest and most degraded. His only merit is that he sometimes, by accident, picks up beautiful things. He cannot understand that anyone really knows, or that bribery will not make its way everywhere. About two years ago he came to Bernhard to propose a business partnership. As usual, Bernhard, not wishing to provoke him, simply put him off, as he always puts off dealers, by saying that he "would see," and so on. (You cannot show a dealer your horror of him, if you want to get sight of his treasures.) Costantini, however, recognized that he had met with a repulse, and his only way of accounting for it was by assuming that Bernhard was already "in with" some rival. So when Mr. Theodore Davis (of Newport) bought one or two things from the dealer Brauer (a man far more 303


intelligent, possessing better things than Costantini), Costantini assumed that there was a Brauer-Berenson partnership. [Of course the truth was that Mr. Davis simply called in B.B. for an expert opinion upon two pictures he wanted to buy of Brauer.] However, Costantini was in a rage, and made up his mind to do his utmost to ruin that rival firm. One of the pictures was a Milanese profile, very pretty and in excellent preservation. Costantini's son, David, ingratiated himself in Mr. Davis's favour, and persuaded him that this profile was a forgery. To speak frankly, young Costantini is a very handsome, plausible young man, who knows how to flatter an oldish man, and Mr. Davis, I think, lost his heart to the lad's beaux yeux and allowed himself to be wheedled into accepting any opinion young David chose to force upon him. So he returned the picture to Brauer, as a forgery. It was then sent to an exhibition at Munich where everybody saw it, it was published, and of course it was accepted as genuine by everybody. Cavenaghi of Milan also saw it. Bernhard was too busy to be angry about it; he simply wrote to Mr. Davis that the picture was certainly genuine, and there the matter dropped for nearly a year. However, Costantini, seeing that he had not advanced his own cause, and that Bernhard did not come to him about it, to beg him to "stand in" with him in the future, himself came and apologized for his son's "mistake," said that of course the picture was genuine, but his son had been misled by a certain restorer Grassi-and so on. This was in preparation for Mr. Davis's visit last Spring. Of course B.B. made up his mind to have nothing more to do with Mr. Davis's pictures. But I am sorry to say that I dragged him into one further (and final) dispute, which ended by showing us what the Costantinis were capable of doing. We went to dine with Mr. Davis one evening and he displayed his newest acquisition, which we saw at a glance was a forgery, and a copy, to boot, of the central figure in Filippino's Adoration of the Magi in the Uffizi. Bernhard was for saying nothing: but I imprudently expressed my opinion, and he had to second me. The next day I received a letter from Mr. Davis saying that he had taken the opinion of two experts [I learnt afterwards that these were Costantini and his son], and that we had simply made another huge mistake, equal to the one about the Milanese Profile the year before. He sent me the photograph of his picture and challenged me to prove that it was a forgery. The next day a little Florentine restorer named Coppoli, who was getting some frescoes out from under the whitewash in a friend's villa, came up by chance. I asked him if he knew the picture-describing it. He drew me a sketch of it, described even the frame, identified the actual photograph when I showed it to him, and said he had helped young Costantini forge it in the summer, in the slack season! He said that young Costantini was setting up as a forger, that he was very clever at it, but that, as he did not


understand old processes very well, he had to come to him, the restorer, for help as to the medium etc. He said that they had forged this "Filippino" upon an old panel where there had once been a Virgin, and on which only a bit of the yellow drapery was still intact. Of course I wrote this to Mr. Davis, who immediately wrote to young Costantini to tell him; whereupon the young man came up and made a great scene. He admitted that he had forged a Madonna exactly like this one, but swore that it was not this one. I said the affair would be settled in a minute if he would produce his Madonna and place it beside Mr. Davis's picture. But he said he had given it to a friend of his, a Count Alberti, who had sold it, as a modern copy of course, and that he did not know were it had gone, and could not possibly trace it. He protested violently about his "honour as a gent1eman. " I then found out that Mr. Davis had actually bought his picture from Count Alberti, Costantini's friend to whom Costantini had given, by his own acount, his forgery. But close upon Costantini's heels came Count Alberti all in a fury, protesting that he had never had anything of Costantini's in hi5 house, and calling also upon his honour as a gentleman. He was so insulting that I had to ask him to leave the house. The next morning came the little restorer Coppoli all of a tremble to say he had made a mistake, that Mr. Davis's picture indeed closely resembled Costantini's forgery, but was not the same one. I made him come with me at once to Costantini's studio, where we found Mr. Davis's picture. I had my magnifying glass, and after examining the picture I said "I can see no old paint in this." Thereupon Costantini pointed out as genuine a bit of yellow drapery ... just what the little restorer had said was the intact bit of Costantini's forgery. Coppoli looked as if he would faint, I could see he was in real terror of Costantini. Inch by inch I made the young man examine the picture with me, and he was unable to point out anything old in it. He looked at me as if he wished to kill me. I then wired to Mr. Davis who was at Milan that I was willing to bring the picture to Cavenaghi in Milan and assist with him at Cavenaghi's investigation. But Costantini wired also, and himself took the afternoon train to Milan; and all the answer I had was a very rude letter from Mr. Davis expressing his affection for and confidence in young Costantini. I was furious, as you can imagine, and for a day or two busied myself making enquiries about the Costantinis. I took the photograph of Mr. Davis's picture to another dealer I know and asked him what it was. He said he would find out. The next day he came to me and said it was one of Costantini's forgeries, hanging along with many others of the same manufacture in Count Alberti's palace. This picture he said had been bought by an American millionaire upon the recommendation of young Costantini, 305


who boasted he could make the American buy whatever he chose to recommend. I then found out that the Costantinis have "decayed families" in old palaces in all sorts of out-of-the-way places in Italy, where they hang these really rather clever forgeries and get people to buy them as "ancestral heirlooms." They also have an agent in Paris, and elsewhere I was told-the Paris one I know. So that their nets are widely spread, and Costantini sells his forgeries, and his own collection as well, under many different names. I wrote a letter with all this in it to Mr. Davis; but then I heard a story of him that showed me it was useless to try to convince him. And it was so funny that all my anger vanished in a laugh. I must tell you the story, although it bears no relation to the Costantinis, but to an Egyptian mummy instead. This was the mummy of a monkey which Mr. Davis brought home in great triumph from the Nile-almost an unique treasure-only one other in existence. It belonged by rights to the Museum, but by expending vast sums Mr. Davis's agent had secured it for him. Well, this mummied monkey was put away in the chief cabinet in Mr. Davis's hall. Presently the drains seemed to be out of order. Twice they were overhauled by the plumber, but the mischief was still apparent. At last an enterprising person opened the cabinet and disturbed the slumbers of the Monkey supposed to have been undisturbed since 7000 B.C. Unwrapping him a dead cat was found in an indescribable state! Mr. Davis's theory is that American sea-air is bad for mummies. So then I understood that Costantini's theory of a replica in forgery made by himself and given to the same friend who sold Mr. Davis his original, would present no difficulties to Mr. Davis's mind; and I never sent my letter. I felt sorry to have gone into the thing at all. I needed no convincing that the only thing to trust is one's own eyes; and the whole story of the Costantinis left a rather unpleasant taste-so unpleasant that I again ask pardon for inflicting it upon you. Of course Bernhard and I are hated by the dealers. After many tentativi at bribery, many offers of partnership, and so on, they know that we go simply by the evidence of our eyes, and that no story of provenance, no documents, no circumstantial evidence has the slightest weight. They know, too, that we understand them, so they are very careful not to let us see any doubtful things. Mr. Davis bought another picture last spring in Florence, but although I went to the studio where it was I was refused even a glimpse of it. It is a boring, sordid tale. Alas, it is only a sample of what I could tell you about many another dealer far more famous and respected than Costantini. I learnt all about the Florentines by having a cook who was in the ring, a dealer in a small way himself, and a man whom the big dealers frequently employed to do their worst work. The greatest ambition of every 306


Italian dealer is to acquire a reputation for honesty, and then use it to cheat rich foreigners. Only, most of them omit the first, and rush at the second. And unfortunately some of the best old names in Italy lend themselves and their ancestral palaces to this big scheme of fraud. I should like to forego the whole race of dealers and their confederates, but as they do sometimes chance to have beautiful and genuine things-even the Costantinis!-one cannot wholly ignore their existence. I have said more than enough, and you will be wearied. May I end by telling you that I look forward with extreme pleasure to seeing you in America, and that I hope some of your friendliness for Bernhard may find its way also to me? Yours very sincerely, Mary Berenson

Green Hill Brookline Dear Berenson

November

II, [I902]

At last this morning comes a letter from you! I have been worried to death! Do you know this is my 4th to you since the Diirer episode. The day I cabled YEDURER, I also wrote, telling you to send it immediately to E. A. Snow for me, as usual-which please do, and asking you for what exact price you got it, and should I pay to you care Earing's? No answer, so I wrote again! No answer. Weeks went on and I made sure you were at death's door, or had gone through it. So in letter No. 3, I asked if you were too ill to write, would your wife please send me a word to say how you were, and relieve my anxiety. This morning comes your letter saying that you have heard nothing from me for two months! What can have become of my letters; all of them sent to Earing's and posted here in the P. Office, not a box, by me! Thank the Lord you are well, at least alive, but soignez-vous. Don't get here later than April Ist as Fenway Court is shut up, and pictures unseeable after April 20th, and I move here. In my last attempt to get you with pen and ink I asked you to see an Ivory Madonna and Child at Costantini's, and see what is the lowest price it can be bought for, if worthwhile. May you get this! Yours Isabella What is exact Diirer price, and to whom do I pay?

[I Tatti] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Nov.

I2 , I902

I went to Costantini's two days ago and saw his new quarters, and his "treasures." These, to my eyes, at least, are rubbish except for the Ivory regarding which you ask me. That I knew already, and if only I had any idea that you were buying ivories, I should have written to you long ago urging you


to buy it. But I have to bore you so much and so often about pictureswhich after all are your piece de resistance-that it did not occur to me to write of other beautiful things that I see. The ivory is a very great beauty, of wonderful grace, and of a date just within the best period. Costantini began by asking 40,000 lire, and coming down rapidly to 30,000. I tried to get it for less, and finally told him nothing could induce me to recommend it to you at more than 2 5, ooo. He refused at first, assuring me that a London dealer had offered him as much; and if it was worth so much to a dealer, it must be worth much more to one who did not buy to sell. I put on an indifferent air, and told him that while he knew his business best, it yet might be to his advantage in the long run to sell to me rather than to a London dealer. He then begged me to leave him time to think it over. After 48 hours I get his answer which I enclose (Please return it). He accepts my offer of 25,000 lire, and I think you will do well to purchase it at that price. Let me have your decision at your earliest leisure. Our weather is more miraculously beautiful than ever. Would I were well enough to enjoy it. Yours ever B.B.

Green Hill Brookline Dear Mrs. Berenson

November

22, [1902]

I am too much hurried to write a letter. I still go daily, dinner pail in hand to my Fenway Court work. But last night your letter came, and I cannot let a day go by without thanking you for it. It was most kind. The Costantini story shows a door into a mystery of crime, stupidity and foolishness that is as interesting and more diverting than most plays. Tell Berenson for me, with my love, that I thank him also for his little letter. Yours and his came together last night, and at last I was gladdened by news, even if it were not of the best. You must be severe with him, and make him quite well, and then Boston must complete and fasten the cure. My business work, I hope, will be more or less, accomplished before very long, and that I can move into my new house finished, in a week or two. Finished, will of course, always mean a lot more to do. I now run to my work with my dinner pail. I weep when I think of Jephson! Again I thank you many times for your letter. Lovingly yours Isabella

[I Tatti] Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Nov.

23, 1902

The Diirer leaves Liverpool on the 27th by the Dominion Steamer Marion for Boston. 308


Please bear in mind that the Diirer is on panel, and that the gods only know how a given panel will stand the American climate. So please turn the Diirer, directly you receive it, over to Mr. Potter-that is the name, is it not, of your restorer. By the way, he is one of the people I am most eager to meet when I come over. I go on with my invalid's life, frightfully bored not to be at work. I have massage every day, and hypodermic injections of phosphorous. I am gaining in weight, but I still sleep badly and feel dead tired most of the timealtho' I do nothing, do not even write letters except these rare notes to you. I read Homer and Virgil, and Emerson, and whatever else of a pleasant nature that comes my way. And the weather altho' colder is as golden as ever. Yours ever B. B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[I Tatti] Dec. 7, 1902

We have just received your letter to my wife, a note from Barings to say the money for the Diirer has arrived, and your note including 25,000 lire for Costantini's ivory. I thank you for all. I am very happy that you are taking the ivory, not only for its own sake, but I am glad of the opportunity of convincing a dealer that he has nothing to hope or fear from me except thro' the excellence of his wares. I shall go down presently to pay him, and arrange the shipment. Meanwhile I have just time to write you by this post of a little fairy tale of a Florentine picture that I am very eager to have you buy. It is as lovely as the illuminated page of a medieval manuscript, and yet full of the Renaissance freshness, as of an early morning breeze. The photograph will show you what a beautiful composition it is. The girlish mother kneeling on a platform among the cliffs by the lake side worshipping the Holy Child. How she commands and dominates the landscape! Then you never saw anything sweeter than the colouring, all ultramarine and green, and cherryred, but every tint shot thro' with gold. It is as lovely and dainty a picture as the Pintoricchio I sold you last winter, and I am convinced you will like it as much. Its author is that very rare but very famous painter Raffaellino del Garbo, 1 who was a pupil of Filippino Lippi and Botticelli. This little picture must have been one of his earliest works, and it has therefore considerable historic besides aesthetic interest. Finally so far as I know you do not own one-~t all events very few-pictures shaped like this, circular, that is to say tondi-so characteristic of the Florentine Quattrocento. It is on panel about two feet in diameter. When I add that the price is one thousand and fifty pounds (ÂŁ1,050) not a third what Agnew or Sedelmeyer would ask for such a picture, I think 309


you must agree with me that it is a picture you should buy. You could not make yourself a lovelier or more appropriate Xmas present-and I shall be very much disappointed if you do not take it. So please be good to yourself and cable YEGARBO, whereupon I shall send it at once so that you may receive it not too long after Xmas. I am no worse, but very little better. Yours devotedly B.B. ÂťI.

The Raffaellino ton do has not been identified.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[I Tatti] December 8, 1902

It was very kind of you to write to me in the midst of your many preoccupations. I am sorry to think what a tiresome answer I am going to send you ... but Bernhard is so upset over this new instance of Costantini's doubledealing that he feels really too ill to write to you about it himself. The enclosed letter will tell you what has happened; but I will also translate it, for we found the writing rather difficult to decipher. Costantini says: "Owing to a misunderstanding that arose between Mr. Theo. M. Davis and myself at the time that I purchased the Ivory Statuette, he considers himself as having been since that time its proprietor, as indeed he says he wrote to you (last summer). I am therefore exceedingly sorry from the material side also-to be obliged to give up the Ivory to Mr. Davis. I beg you to excuse me, and I hope in some way or other to make up for it in the next transacti.on. " As you have Cos.t antini's recent letter offering the Ivory to Bernhard for twenty five thousand francs [lire], you will see at once that this previous contract with Mr. Davis is a lie. The trust must be that old Costantini, the father, did intend to sell you the Ivory, but that the young scoundrel, his son, has persuaded him that Mr. Davis will make their fortune, and that they must throw over everyone else to please him. Last summer Mr. Davis sent us the photograph of the Ivory, along with the photographs of half a dozen pictures. He said he had bought them all, and merely sent the photographs for the fun of hearing what Bernhard thought of them. Of course we know very well that Mr. Davis had not bought them, for this little comedy of pretending ~o own them and then asking a friendly opinion on them, is one that Mr. Davis loves to play. His pose is one of absolutely independent judgment-and it leads him to strange purchases sometimes-as my last letter told you! Bernhard wrote to him at once that the Ivory was a good one, but that most of the pictures were rubbish. Silence on the part of Mr. Davis from that time on. Thereupon letters from various dealers, including Costantini, enclosing photographs of the same pictures that Mr. Davis wrote he had bought, 310


asking Bernhard to recommend them and so forth. To these he paid no attention, for there was nothing good among them. Several of the pictures he saw in dealers' houses, offered for sale. Then came your letter about the Ivory Madonna, which you also had seen was unusually fine, and Bernhard went at once to Costantini to bargain for it, with the result that Costantini finally sent that letter offering it for 25,000. The matter was perfectly understood, and when your cheque came on Saturday, Bernhard wrote to Costantini that you had bought the Madonna, and that he would call today (Monday) to give the shipping orders. But young Costantini evidently sent word to Mr. Davis that you were likely to take it, whereon Mr. Davis decided to force them to give to him the object that had been sealed with your approval! Or it may have been just a device, from the beginning, to fan a quarrel between Bernhard and Mr. Davis, to make Mr. Davis believe that he was trying to snatch away from him the best things. Of course they wish to have a free hand with their patron, and resent having Bernhard's opinion asked on what they see fit to offer him. I can form no conclusive theory of their motives. We are both very sorry that this graceful Madonna should not enter your collection, but Bernhard tells me to tell you that he feels sure he will be able, sooner or later, to find you as good a one, at a similar price. For although it is fine, it is not of the supremest, almost unattainable quality, and Madonnas equal to it are not unfrequently even yet, to be found. (I am returning your cheque in this letter.) But he sent you yesterday the photograph of an attractive Florentine tondo, which I think may make up to you for this disappointment. I think the price is only a few pounds more. It is a little gem of a picture, as fresh and clean in colour as one of those early Florentine ornaments made of precious stones and enamel. And there is a gaiety about it-a sort of naive youthfulness-that will enable the picture to hold its own even among more severe and far grander works. I apologize for the tale I have had to tell. This time there is nothing diverting in it. I am sorry to say the invalid does not progress. He has expended all his energy on that big book of his, and the doctors talk of months to come that must be spent in that odious occupation-complete repose! Believe me, dear Mrs. Gardner, Yours very sincerely Mary Berenson

[I Tatti] Dear Friend,

Dec.

17, 1902

I hope this will get to you just in time to bring you my whole-hearted wishes for a happy New Year. Before the next year is over I hope I shall 311


have seen a great deal of you, and as I never have before, in surroundings of your own making. I am sure they are wonderful. Lady Henry Somerset for instance is a person of remarkable good taste. She tells us she was enchanted with your house and dazzled with your collection. 1 As I am not allowed to do anything serious, I read Walpole's and Byron's letters, and all sorts of such entertaining gossip. But it makes me yearn for something more solid, and occasionally I have an hour's debauche of glorious old Goethe. Think how great he must be to be so great although a German. Please remember my best wishes, and believe me Ever yours devotedly B.B. Âť r. Isabella Caroline Somers ( r 8 5 r-r 92 r) wife of Lord Henry Somerset, longtime president of

the British Women's Temperance Association. She visited the Gardner Museum on 28 October 1902 .

Dear Berenson-

Fenway Court Deeb 23 [ 1902]

Nearly Xmas, and I must write a word of good wishes. My wish is to see you here. I am sure now after two days consultation with homme d'ajfaires, that I cannot have the Raffaellino del Garbo. The joy and rapture with which their greedy hands closed over the returned cheque made me feel sure, before I was shown the unpaid bills. I am really very poor-so unless I am to be hanged for the largest of sheep it is better not to be hanged. So let us aim for a Raphael Madonna, an A No. l Perugino, and a thousand times better Ivory than the Davis one. When are you coming to this Sancterium? Yours Isabella S. G.

Dear Friend,

[I Tatti] Jan. l, 1903

I am sending these first -vvords that I write on the New Year, to you. May it be a year of health, and happiness to you. It now looks as if I were likely to spend the next New Year, if I remain on earth, with you. The doctors assure me that it would be suicidal for me to think of undertaking a long journey for many months. My own sensations bear out their declarations but too well. Merely to attend to the proofs of my forthcoming book tires me to death; if people try to talk to me I fall asleep. What is ludicrous is that I sleep little when left to myself. You must not think that I suffer acutely, or am unhappy. Rather it is that I feel numb and far away from myself. It seems therefore that I shall scarcely see you before the autumn. I have for six weeks been struggling against this decision, but now I must give in. Yours dolefully but devotedly B.B. 312


Dear Berenson

Fenway Court January 17, 1903

Your little letter that came this morning is too sad for words, only tears are any good. If one had the right to take the responsibility, I should have you put into the ship at Naples and sent straight here! The utter change, the quiet would be (I am sure) just what you need. You began the year so well in writing to me that I hope for better things than a very postponed visit from you. Please read and be interested in this enclosure. It is a copy of an article written by Apthorp, our best musical critic. 1 It is all about my music room and the opening concert which was the beginning of the Festival of the New Year, which was my housewarming, and without you, more's the pity. All went well, and really I was delighted with the way everything looked. As for the acoustics of the Music Hall (or Room) perfection is the only word. Don't you call that luck? May happiness come to you both this new year. Yours Isabella 禄1. William F. Apthorp, music critic for the Boston Transcript, effusively praised the hall and its

acoustics. The Music Room was divided into four galleries in 1914.

Dear Friend,

[I Tatti] Feb. 2, 1903

It was very sweet of you to write and tell me about your house-warming, and your delightful music. How I wish I had been there! In the l 8th century one person found that "disputation and whist" made up the happiness of life. For me that consists chiefly of a friend or two, works of art and music. Where should I find them so perfectly combined as with you! But before the autumn it is out of the question. I could not dream of coming and turning your house into a hospital and you into a nurse. The presence of an invalid is life-diminishing. A wife or mother is in duty bound to stand by, but no friend should be asked to submit to so stern a task.路 The doctor says I am better. I confess I feel scarcely any improvement. I lie on my back about 20 hours a day. Everything is done for me. Quiet, perfect attendance, and fresh air. My wife does all my writing, not only my considerable correspondence, but even book-reviews, and she does all the proof-reading of my elephantine book. In one respect I feel better than for years past. I have got over the black depression that crushed me for years. I really long to see you and your treasures; but it must be as a cheerful, healthy person. The old pagans were right in regarding disease as a pollution which should not be admitted to the sanctuary. Yours ever devotedly B.B. 313


P. S. You know Miss Grace Norton, Prof. Norton's sister. This is what she writes in her last letter:-"And you think you would like to see our houses!! Mrs. Gardner's, yes. Perhaps that would really almost repay you for all your 'dismays.' It is an expression of genius." So Isabella Davidovna you are a prophet even in your own country.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[I Tatti] Feb. 8, 1903

I am sending two photographs of a really precious work of art. It is a French figure of a Madonna in dark oak, 3 ft. 7 in. high. Altho' one of the hands is missing, and one of the trefles [trefoils] of the crown, it is yet one of the best preserved wooden statues of that time. Its patina is almost like bronze. What makes me particularly wish you to buy it is that it will go so well with those Gothic choir-stalls I bought for you some years ago. The price is ÂŁ455 (four hundred and fifty-five pounds) and it is a real bargain. I am getting it direct from its owner, and for about half what the dealers would take for it. I do not make a farthing on it, so I can with a perfect conscience urge you to buy it. In feeling it is very tender and sweet; and in execution it is dainty while vigorous. Please let me know as soon as possible if you will have it. Yours ever B.B.

Dear Friend,

[I Tatti] April 6, 1903

It is a long time since I have heard from you, and almost as long since I have written. How are you? Well I hope, and, as ever, absorbed in ten thousand delightful things. My tale is soon told. When it is sunny-and it nearly always is-I lie out on a chaise-longue, and read all sorts of memoirs, frivolities, and all sorts of things that decaying minds use to occupy them. Occasionally one or two-the only-charming women of Florence drive up and spend an hour with me. I am allowed to do nothing, not so much as to write a note. But I am assured that I am getting well, and every one that sees me finds me looking better. I wish I felt it. I scarcely shall until the gnawing pain at the back of my head disappears. Oh, but what a day, and what a sky, and what fragrance, and what colour! If I never had known a more active state, my present one would have much to be said for it. Let me have a word, if a word only, from you. Yours devotedly B. B.


[I Tatti] May 3, l 90 3

Dear Friend,

I want you to get and read at once Julia Cartwright's Isabella d'Este. 1 I have been urging this writer for many years to put together a book on this marvellous woman, and it is published at last. There is nothing in these two volumes which is absolutely new to me. Nevertheless having this information put together in continuous, and delightfully readable form, very much deepens the idea I have always had that she was your precursor. Change the time, the place and the circumstance, and the Isabella Gardner that I know is so singularly like the Isabella d'Este of whom I read that one could believe the one was the other reappearing after four centuries. Please read and tell me whether I am right. I am sure I must be. I never hear from you any more. Please try to keep a little friendship for me until the autumn at least when I hope to see you again. I am really getting better, if only by inches, and I dare say by Sept. I shall be at my average again-not that that is much. We are seeing a great deal of the Duse, and at moments she is marvellous. If I could trust her, I should find her enchanting, but I do not trust her yet-I scarcely know why. Yours devotedly B.B. P. S. I hope you have bought the Warren Filippino. It is a very beautiful picture, and I believe, his masterpiece. Âť r. Mrs. Julia Cartwright published Isabella d'Este, 2 vols. (New York, 1903).

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline May 19 [1903]

I am sending for the book today. May I get it. I am just back from Biltn1ore, where I spent a week with the George Vanderbilts in North Carolina. 1 Fancy owning l 50,000 acres. It is quite wonderful. You say you are better. I do pray it is true and that better may quickly turn to well . I shall not take the Warren Filippino. It ought to go to the Fine Arts Museum. Sam Warren is President of that, and is part owner, as heir, of the picture. And they all adore it I believe. Will you still keep your weather eye out for my Raphael Madonna? Do, do, do. Yours Isabella Âť r. Biltmore was built by George Washington Vanderbilt (1862-1914) as a country home in Asheville, N.C . The house and its gardens and arboretum were opened to the public in 1930.

315


Dear Friend,

[I Tatti] June I, I 90 3

I can scarcely tell you how delighted I was to see your hand-writing again. So long a time has passed without my having a glimpse of it. And I am greatly pleased to learn that you had so pleasant a visit down South, and that you seem well. The word "well" leads over to my "Fratello Asino" of a body as St. Francis was wont to call his. It doubtless is better, but there is still much room for improvement. I hope when you see me in the autumn that you will look upon a man in decent health. I regard myself as a person with whom there is nothing the matter when I think of Mounteney Jephson who has been staying with us for the last three weeks, on his way back from New Zealand. You never saw such a wreck as he was when he arrived. I was aghast when I saw how haggard and pinched he looked, how his eyes started out of their sockets, and how nervous he seemed. But he is better, and his good humour and jolliness can not be wholly crushed. I need not say we have drunk many a glass to the health of Queen Isabella the Unique. You ask me to keep a weather eye open for a Raphael. If only you knew how eagerly I look out and about. Of Raphaels to satisfy Whitney or Morgan I know a number, but not one worthy of you as yet. Meanwhile I have something to offer you which excites me not a little. As you are aware I am the historiographer of a great Venetian Master named Lorenzo Lotto. Among his townsmen contemporaries he had no rival except Titian, and if Titian surpasses him in subject pictures, Titian but holds his own with Lotto as a portraitist. And if you regard the individualization, the inner life of the sitter, Titian must give place to Lotto. Of all this I wrote long ago in my book on Lotto. I had the pleasure of sending you a copy of the last edition, and if you can lay your hands on it, I beg you to glance thro' it. Of course I have been looking out, ever since I have been assisting you over your purchases, for some picture by this great master. A qui sait bien attendre tout arrive. At last I can offer you a portrait which even among Lotto's must rank as a great masterpiece. 1 The enclosed photograph will tell you more than words can, how really, and intimately, and vividly the personality of the sitter is grasped. He has the directness of a Holbein or Diirer rather than of any Italian master. But here on the other hand we have a compactness and beauty of composition that neither Holbein nor Diirer could achieve, because it is so eminently Italian. Among Lotto's other portraits it is unsurpassed. Some are over-sensitive; others a little too pretty; others still either not so well painted nor so well preserved. The technique of this portrait is extraordinarily free and bold, as you can see even in the photograph. The colour is resplendent, dazzling, and as fresh as when it left Lotto's hand. Then I simply have never seen another 16th century [pie316


ture] so beautifully, miraculously preserved. The student will be able to study Lotto's technique from this portrait almost as well as if he had Lotto by his side to teach him. Finally, this portrait is on canvas, no small consideration for an American collector. The size is that of life. You are aware how famous Moroni is as a portrait-painter. His fame is well deserved, and I shall be the last person to attempt to run it down. But I venture to enclose photographs of two of his most famous portraits. You will see at a glance that the attitude and pose Moroni gives his sitters, he has taken from this portrait of Lotto's that I am recommending to you. I need not point out to you how inferior Moroni proves himself to Lotto. For all these reasons, I beg you to be well advised, and seize the opportunity of buying a unique masterpiece-particularly as the price is a bargain of bargains. It is only ÂŁ2,000 (two thousand pounds). So please be good to yourself, decide to take this portrait, and cable Berenson, Settignano, Florence, YELOTTO. Prosit! We leave before the end of the month for the mountains. Yours ever devotedly B.B. ÂťI.

This portrait has not been identified .

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. June 17 [1903]

Alas No! I cannot. My few last dollars must be kept. They are really the last and it must be for some very great thing-not a portrait. You must get me the A No. l Raphael Madonna-or a Fete Champetre by Giorgione! Magan. It is a great joy to know you are better-but poor Jephson. Do give him ¡ my love and make him write to me. The horse races are on this week and the house here is full of "the Talent"-so we talk and eat horse. And in a few minutes are off for the Country Club-with our belt and jockies all up! Yours Isabella I am revelling in the Cartwright book. It is very interesting-but not exactly a great literary production!

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[St. Moritz] July 5, 1903

We arrived an hour ago, and feel like brands snatched from the burning. It was so deliciously cool at Settignano that I lingered on till the 25th when I


joined my doctor at the Bagni di Lucca, a delightful summer resort of the days before Switzerland was discovered, a resort frequented by Byron, Shelley, Heine, and many others famous in song and story. It is not particularly high, yet hilly, thickly wooded, refreshingly watered, beautiful to look upon and enchanting to drive thro'. The doctor did his last tinkering on my poor "brother ass" of a body, and here we are in this buoyant, lifegiving air. Would it were peaceful, but altho' the season has scarcely begun, it already is pandemonic. Of my own friends only one is here, the Countess Serristori of Florence, but she happens to be one of the four or five women I am devoted to. My wife stays little over a fortnight, I four weeks, whereupon I also escape to England. Do you know, we actually have taken passage on the Majestic sailing from Liverpool Sept. 30, so that we hope to be in New York, Oct. 6, and I trust many days won't go by after that date, before I see you again at last. How long we shall stay is undecided, but, if my health do not suffer, several months, I hope. Jephson is now hermetically sealed up in a rest-cure in London, allowed no communication whatever with the outside world, for six or even ten weeks. It was all we and our doctor could do to persuade him to go there, but I do hope he will come out better if not well. I have asked the publisher to send you a copy of my Drawings of the Florentine Painters. 1 When you see it you may understand why it took me so long, and came so near killing me. Pray accept this copy as a token of what I may almost call a life long devotion. Dear me, I almost forgot to tell you how disappointed I am that you will not buy the Lotto. I think you are very, very, very, and a thousand more "very" mistaken; but it's no use wishing the Isabella Gardner Museum better than Isabella Gardner herself wishes it. A propos of A No. r picture, Joe Smith surprised me with a call a few weeks ago. It turned out he had practically come on purpose to see me about a Raphael. Of course I knew all about it, and it had been offered to me repeatedly. It is a copy of the Casa Albani picture at the Hermitage, itself only partially a Raphael. 2 They have the impudence to ask ÂŁ60,000 for this poor copy, and I make no doubt that some flush countryman of ours will end by taking it. "My"-how happy I could make purchasers, and how rich myself, if only I knew less, or had an easier conscience about attributions. Well, we shall soon meet I hope, and talk of ten thousand things. Yours devotedly B.B. BB, Drawings of the Florentine Painters: classified, criticised and studied as documents in the History and Appreciation of Tuscan Art with a Copious Catalogue Raisonne, 2 vols. (London [1903]). Volume I has a text of 330 pages with 72 illustrations, and volume 2 contains a catalogue of 200 pages with ro6 illustrations. Extremely heavy, these volumes are seldom seen outside libraries, yet they established BB's reputation as a connoisseur and set a precedent for using ÂťI.

318


drawings to aid in the interpretation of other works of art. Âť2. This particular version, one of many, has not been further identified. The painting in the Hermitage was bought by Andrew William Mellon (1855-1937) in 1937 and is now in the National Gallery of Art.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. July 25, 1903

I am in the heart of New Hampshire on a friend's farm for a few days. Here arrives, forwarded, your letter and the photograph of the van der Weyden. 1 I am doomed to make you very unhappy because I can't say yes. Both Mr. Swift and Mr. Gray 2 who have charge (particularly the former) of all my worldly goods are in Europe and will not come home until September. All my remaining capital (alas very dwindled now) is in investments they have put it in. And now everything is far below par in America, so nothing could be sold to realize money even if they were here. But without them, absolutely nothing can be done, and I fear when they get back it will be very much too late. However I don't think of that part at all because it is so sure they would be unable to let me put $ 5 l, ooo just now into anything. So I must open my hand and let the beaut,iful Annunciation slip out of it. It is beautiful. I almost hope some other American may get it, that at least I might see it. I am proud of my collection of course, and constantly thankful to you for your untiring and devoted part in it. If I could only have some of those "squillionaires" money! It is so sad to write all this, I won't say more. I have given a great deal of time lately to studying pictures from the critical point of view. Of course I realize how poor the photograph is that you sent, but from it I cannot find at all the van der Weyden edges of things. Probably you won't have the ghost of an idea \vhat I mean by "edges." I wish I could know the technical words to tell you in, for I want you to write to me on what points you found your belief in the authenticity of van der Weyden's Annunciation. What I call the edges in all of his that I know are so different. Do tell me that I may learn, and please don't say anything to add to my grief at not being able to get the picture. Do you remember sending me a splendid and large photograph of the Fiorenza di Lorenzo Annunciation? Please get me two more and post them to me. They were splendid and large. Potter, the man who doctors pictures here, is in despair that he will probably be in Europe, just at the time you are here. But he may get over in August. If so he will be in London I hope at the time you are there. I shall give him a little word to you. Please put him in the way of seeing things only you have the key to. Perhaps if the van der Weyden were not sold by that time you could show it to him, and he could speak of it to some buyers he knows. If he could send them to you, you might sell it to them 319


and get it to America, and I should see it! Potter has heard much of you from me and is quite ready to be one of your devoteds. Don't let anything interfere with your coming. My remembrances to your wife. Please send the photographs soon. Yours always Isabella Âť l. This letter has been lost. The van der Weyden Annunciation is the altarpiece then in the earl

of Ashburnham's collection, from which it went to the Rodolphe Kann Collection. Bought by Duveen Brothers in 1908 and sold to J. Pierpont Morgan, it was donated to The Metropolitan Museum of Art by his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr., in 1916. Âť2. John Chipman Gray (1839-1915), distinguished lawyer and professor of law who with Mr. Ropes founded the law firm Ropes & Gray, which still carries their names. He drew up ISG's will.

Dear Friend,

S. Moritz July 30, 1903

I have just received your perfectly enchanting note from Beverly Farms. It at once makes me glow with the warm words of your friendship, and makes me feel like a brute in boring you to buy. But what am I to do? You say your capital is nearly at an end, that you can buy only one or two more pictures. Well on my honour and conscience, by all the interest I have in your collection, and by the friendship I bear you, I urge you to buy this Rogier van der Weyden as one of the two possibly last pictures you can afford to buy. My wife writes again that "If Mrs. Gardner saw the Rogier, its exquisite beauty of design, and matchless power of colour, she would not hesitate a moment to buy it." Now I shall say no more. You should have received my book before you wrote, and I am distressed you had not. Publishers are so stupid, and have to be told the simplest thing dozens of times. But I hope you have received it now. These are my last days here, and when you read this, I shall be at Haslemere. I am enjoying these days. There are as yet not too many fancy people, and the glimmer of these birds of paradise rather amuses me. I have a friend, a Countess Serristori with whom I spend several hours everyday, and the rest of the time I read and rest. I should not mind staying longer here, but my sister Senda is coming to spend the rest of the summer with us, and I must be back to receive her. I can not possibly tell you how much I look forward to seeing you, and I will not try. But I hope you know. Yours ever devotedly B.B.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. August 5, 1903

You will have got my letter by now, saying how impossible it is for me to consider buying anything during the absence of Mr. Gray and Mr. Swift. I 320


too am sure the picture is beautiful from the photograph, but it is as if you said, buy the Milo! I am sure now from your letter ofJuly 27, that you don't at all understand my position financially. I thought this some time ago. Now I know it-I am really very poor, and have done and am doing in the way of economizing what no one else would think of even. But I do it quite wholly willingly, because my money has gone as I would wish have it go. So Jephson is really to be married after all! Perhaps now he will be well and happy-I hope so. Hastily yours Isabella S. G.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill August 19, 1903

Is my "Queen Marge" portrait by Moro the one that was exhibited at the Manchester exhibition in 18 57 as the property of the Earl of Yarborough? Hastily and apologetically Yours Isabella

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

Haslemere Sep. 3, 1903

Your portrait by Moro of Queen Mary comes from the collection of Lord Stafford of Costessey Park, in whose family it seems to have been ever since it was painted. All likenesses of Queen Mary are apt to be ascribed to Moro as all portraits of Henry VIII are ascribed to Holbein. Doubtless the picture exhibited at Manchester as Lord Yarborough's was one of these. Mr. Potter has not made a sign as yet, although the entire dealing world of London is expecting him. I was not a little amused to hear him talked of with the same carnivorous glee that the "Twa Corbies" in the old ballad expressed for the bonnie eyes of the slain knight. A report from the selfsame dealing world comes to me that someone has just bought for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts a "Leonardo" for ÂŁ15,000. But this surely can't be; for who can be so foolish as still to buy "Leonardos" as if they were a commodity in the market. Our plans are shaping themselves at last. Presumably we shall land in New York on Oct. 7. We shall after a day go to Davis's at Newport, for he leaves and breaks up his establishment on the 12th. We shall then spend two or three days at Dorchester with my mother, and by the 15th or 16th of Oct. we shall be ready to come to you-if you really want us. Please let me know, and if the date suits you. After a wintry August, Sept. has begun with glowing sunshine. My sister Senda has been with us for a month and sails in a week. She as well 321


as my wife begs to be remembered to you. We have seen Jephson and his fiancee, and shall tell you all about them when we meet. Yours devotedly B.B .

Dear Friend,

Haslem ere Sept. 22, 1903

I am distressed to hear from you that I shall not be able to see Fenway Court directly I arrive. I shall be as disappointed and impatient as Jephson's fiancee. Our plans are purposely vague as they must so largely depend on how my fratello asino of a body is treated by the climate, and how my soul is met by the inhabitants of a country from which I have been away about an eighth of its national history. Whatever happens I shall have had great pleasure in seeing you again-and that is one of the chiefest objects of the voyage. Potter has been and gone. He interested us very much, and one could not help liking as well as respecting him. I regret he is not to be in Boston where I could talk over your pictures with him inch by inch. From Oct. 7 to 12 we shall be staying with Mr. Davis at the Reef, Newport. My wife is in town in a whirl of shopping or she would join me in all sorts of grateful greetings. Yours devotedly B. B.

Dear Berenson and Madame,

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. October 6, 1903

Welcome! This is only a word of greeting. May the warm sun shine on you, as it does on me at this moment of writing, and may health, strength and happiness attend you. I unfortunately, must be in Washington "pour affaires" until the 16th, so that I can't get back here until the 17th. Please, therefore come to me on the 18th, letting me know at what hour! Oh, I see the 18th is Sunday, so you must come sometime on Saturday-I will get home that morning presumably. Perhaps if you come from Dorchester, your best and easiest way would be to go into Boston and take a train at Trinity Place Station at 3 :36 P.M. and get off at Brookline Hills, not Brookline, at 3 :45. 1 My traps will be at the station to bring you and your luggage up. I think this regular railway is better than trams because you can bring your luggage on them. Au revoir; I am so glad to say a bientot. Yours Isabella 322


P. S. It is a blowing, windy, grey day-I can't post my letter until I get Mr. Davis's address, which I don't know. How we all change, also our points of view! This is what I judge by your being at Mr. Davis's and by hearing you want to sell pictures to the Fine Arts Museum here! That you should be willing to do that after former decisions is a surprise. If the sun does not shine when you get here, I will weep. Yours I. S. G. Âť r. Trinity Place was next to Back Bay Station. Streetcars now use the Boston & Albany

railroad tracks in Brookline.

Dear Friend,

Newport, R. I. Oct. 9, 1903

We got here last night just in time to sit down to dinner as we were. It was only after dinner that Davis gave me your letter. I need not say that it made me very happy to be so glowingly welcomed. I assure you that were it not my eagerness to see you, it is doubtful whether we should have crossed the ocean; and I look forward with the shyness that comes over me when a great and long deferred pleasure is about to be realized, to seeing you. The only reason that we came here first instead of going straight to Boston is that Davis leaves day _after tomorrow for the West, and sails directly after his return; so that this was my one chance of seeing him. And despite many things he has been very kind to me, and very helpful. But tomorrow week we shall be with you at Brookline Hills, at 3 :45. It is news to me that I am to sell to the Art Museum. Not that I should not be willing to, but I have heard nothing of it, and I have made no advances. You may rest assured that it would never occur to me to offer anyone anything that I had not first offered to you-unless you have really stopped buying. In that case I should be guided by the principles which have always actuated me, to use all my influence to get pictures to America, and if possible to Boston. But this is one of the many thousand things we can talk about on our visit. And how long will you be able to stand us? Shall it be from the r 7th to the 26th? We can make it shorter or longer as you please, only it would be good of you to let me know so that we may arrange accordingly. After leaving you we mean to go to Northampton for a few days, and then return to Boston for several weeks. So con tante, tante anticipazioni as the dear Italians would say, I all'l; more than ever Yours devotedly B.B. P. S. We remain here till Monday. Then r 89 Grampian Way Dorchester. 323


Green Hill Brookline, Mass. Thursday [October 1903] Hip, hip, hurrah-It is too good! You will find a big letter at Mr. Davis's and now this little note in answer to your wire. Let me know what moment on Saturday the 17th you can come. If my little plan for you to take the R wy cars to Brookline Hills from Trinity Place, Boston, at 3 :36 P.M. suits, that will be very nice. This is too delightful. I am off for Washington next week, and get back Saturday morning. In tearing haste nowYours Isabella G.

Dear Friend,

Newport, R.I Oct. ro, 1903

"I hear and I obey." This is the formula invariably used by the vizirs in response to the sultans in the Arabian Nights. I am not your vizir-I wish I were-but you are more than a Sultan. I often and often have asked myself whether at least you were not the Queen of Sheba-but of course up to date. Of one thing I am quite sure that in distant centuries you will take her place in the fancy of all lovers of beauty and the marvellous. But I wander from the subject which is to tell you that "I hear and I obey," and that I will not go to the Art Museum, nor to the Public Library until you take me there. Indeed I will remain as quietly as possible at Dorchester, in a state of vigil for the feast that is to follow when I come to you. I feel frightfully tired, but I have been enjoying the tossing foam of the jade coloured surf, and the wild soul of the ocean with me safe on shore. One thing age can not take away, and that is one's power of identifying one's self with nature in all her moods. r 89 Grampian Way Dorchester will be our address till we come to you. I do hope nothing will delay you in Washington . I am sure you know how impatient I am to see you for a good long spell. Devotedly B.B.

189 Grampian Way Dorchester, Tuesday [October 1903] Here we are, dear Friend, since last night, I scarcely know where, somewhere in the remote suburbs, in a cosy, snug little house, as neat and whimsical as a Swiss chalet. An idolizing mother over-aweing one with devotion, and a youngest sister whom I left a child, and find a grown and very clever

324


woman are all my society. 1 With them we shall spend our time, and scarcely stir out of the house, until we come to you Saturday. I hate to hear of your having a cold, and do hope it will pass off quickly. A bient8t, and devotedly B.B. Although BB found visiting his family difficult, he was always generous in his financial support. BB's youngest sister, Rachel Berenson (1872-1933), became the wife of Ralph Barton Perry, Harvard professor of philosophy. ÂťI.

The Plymouth Inn Northampton, Mass. Oct. 27, 1903

Dear Friend,

I am sitting on a rocking chair-the only kind in the hotel-to write, "taking pen in hand to tell you" that we had a pleasant journey. The sky grew progressively more solemn and tender in its beauty, and I vaguely projected against it a figure of cosmic dimensions singularly resembling yourself in an attitude of Good Shepherdess. It was all very beautiful my feelings toward you, and the exquisite loveliness of the landscape we were rushing over. It is the sort of landscape in which some day a great linear art may be produced, an art of form and colour, not of impressions. When that day comes-and come it must-the present utterances against American landscape-at all events in New England will sound incredible. A brisk north wind is blowing, but the sky is dazzling, and the hills have the real purple upon them. My two sisters here are darlings. 1 We talked of you to Senda in a way that almost made her jealous, but she sends cordial remembrances nevertheless. Yours ever devotedly B.B. Elizabeth, known as Bessie (b. Physical Education. ÂťI.

I 878),

had joined Senda on the staff of the Department of

Plaza Hotel New York Dec. 23, 1903 My best wishes to you, dear Friend, for a very merry Xmas. I wish we were to spend it with you instead of this distracting city. Mary is going to her solemn aunt at Philadelphia, and I am to spend the eve at Mr. Bourke Cockran's in the country. 1 My sisters are coming on tomorrow, but we are so up to the neck in engagements that I shall scarcely be able to see them. We have been too busy with frivolity to think much of pictures or art. But we have the Yerkes collection with its unrivalled oriental rugs. The 325


pictures were but so, so-only two certain forgeries, one of them by the young Costantini. We leave here Jan. l at 2.40 P.M. and are due at Chicago about l, on Jan. 2d. 2 We have written to the Auditorium Annex for rooms. It will be immense fun to see you again. Meanwhile you have the Wise man of the West offering you his myrrh and balsam-you Queen of Sheba, you. Ever devotedly B.B. William Bourke Cockran (1854-1923) , lawyer, politician, orator, and New York congressman. He was rumored for a time to be ISG's fiance. » 2 . ISG met the Berensons in Chicago. »I.

Dear Friend,

Detroit, Mich. Jan. 13, 1904

I hope you got back easily and happily. Chicago seemed very quiet after you left. You had been, seen, and conquered, and there was nothing left but to admire, and sing songs of praise. We saw more McCormicks, 1 and left yesterday, and have been spending all day seeing Mr. Freer's Oriental thingsvery fine. 2 I want to ask a great favour. Dr. Gronau, one of the two or three writers on art who count, is bringing out a book on Titian that will be final and authoritative. 3 He is probably anxious to give a reproduction of your Europa, which indeed he would like to honour especially by giving her a double-page illustration. But to do this he must have a proper photograph. The favour I ask is that you furnish him with such a photograph. I know you may find it inconvenient, even difficult, but you can achieve it as a gre~t favour not only to me but to all true lovers of art. Dr. Gronau has already got together for his book many of the greatest, and hitherto unreproduced Titians. As we are during the next ten days to be rattling about all over the place, I will ask you to write to me, when you do, to the care of Messrs. Baring Magoren & Co. l 5 Wall St. New York. They have our address from day to day. Please remember me to the Merchant Prince, and take lots of love from Mary, & more still from myself. B.B.

P. S. If you find my writing rocky, it is not D. T.s but the infernal noisiness of the hotel. The McCormicks were owners and publishers of the Chicago Tribun e. » 2 . Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) presented his collection of Oriental and American art, with funds for the erection of the Freer Gallery of Art, to the Smithsonian Institution in l 906. » 3. Georg Gronau (1868-1938), art historian, was a longtime resident of Fiesole. ISG's picture was illustrated (facing p. 183) in his Titian (London, 1904). »I.


Dear Berenson

Fenway Court January 19, [1904] Tuesday

I was so much more than glad to get your letter. ISt to business-the Titian has been photographed by everyone including Holyear 1 (how do you spell him?). None good. The Jaccaci people2 are not satisfied with theirs. So what more is there to do? I should think the Holyear one was best, and that being in London makes it immediately possible. The waters seem to be closing over me. All the papers are full of the payment of duties, and now the jealous awful democracy have started in to wake up the tax collectors and every day a new arbite appears about what I must pay as taxes. 3 So when the day comes that they send their bill, I must either sell my pictures or Brookline. Of course the family will be dead agains't the latter. I really am down on my luck. When in Chicago I had a feeling that you had for me a truly really affection. It did me good to think it. I fancy no one is quite as alone in the world as I, or with no one to care. So it made me glad and happy to think that you did. The water pipe has just burst! Floods everywhere! And plumbers. When every cent has gone (and that is very near), and I have been worried and nagged to death, there won't be much more that can happen to me. Believe me with love to you both. Yours Isabella Frederick Hollyer was a London photographer. »2. AugustJaccaci (1857-1930) , former editor of Scribner's and McClure's magazines, with John Lafarge (1835-1910) was the editor of a proposed series entitled Noteworthy Paintings in American Private Collections. Only the first volume appeared (1907), but it included the Gardner Museum's collection. »3. In January 1904 a government official ruled that Fenway Court was not a public museum because it was open only four days a month, three months of the year. ISG paid $200,000 in fines and customs duties on works of art imported for the Gardner Museum. »I.

Dear Mrs. Berenson

Fenway Court January 19, [1904]

This is a nasty letter to write. I sent it to you because I don't want to bother Berenson. And it is brutal to bother you, but your nerves are calmer, and I think it ought to be known, because warned is armed, sometimes. I had a letter the other day, from a perfectly innocent and casual person, who, among other things told of a dinner in London. He asked if I knew Berenson as a person or only as a dealer, because he was so horrified by the things the people at the table said. I wrote to him that I know B. well, that the stories were lies and of no consequence. But to you I want to tell the story, for it may be of great bad consequence to Berenson. The story was that he had got for a certain sum mentioned (very small) the Diirer portrait, 1 that he had sold it to me for the price I gave, etc. etc. etc. You can imagine 327


the vile things they said. My casual acquaintance was a perfect stranger, knowing only one person at the table (the lady who took him). Really the story ought to be stopped. You probably can guess who the enemies may be. I don't know even their names. And probably the story was started far back of the dinner. If I ever get the chance I want to find out if Potter heard it. He might know who the people were. What a disgusting world it is! I wish you were both safely back here. Have you seen many beautiful things, and how about people? Best love Yours Isabella I have 3 volumes Arabian Nights in all. » r. Colnaghi originally set the price at £12,000 to BB (according to a letter from Gutekunst to

BB, May

1902,

now in the Colnaghi archives) . ISG paid

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

£1

l,ooo.

Address The Deanery Bryn Mawr, Penn' a January 21, 1904

It is very kind of you to tell us what you hear . . but the annoyance of this is nothing compared to the very sincere grief we feel about the way it seems only too likely you will be treated in regard to taxes. It is a monstrous shame. But I am sure you know how we feel about it. I wish you could know equally well how really devoted B.B. is to you-has been ever since he first had the honour of knowing you. Nor is it to the official Mrs. Jack Gardner, but to the person herself, in a genuine, deep and truly affectionate way that has no means of expressing itself, but which he loves to think you sometimes feel. He is really and truly your friend and adorer, and his thoughts follow you always, "silently, as the water follows the moon-" But to return to the Diirer tale-of course it's fake 1 as fake as what was written to Mr. Gardner about the Rembrandts of the Hope sale, or what is still said about the Giorgione from Casa Loschi-or in fact about each and every picture that any of his enemies in Italy or England have known that you got through him. For B.B. is very much hated, and I will tell you by what sort of people. l. All owners of pictures, or sellers, whose fictitious attributions he has called in question. 2. All the collectors, like Bode from whose grasp he has snatched pictures for you. 3. All the dealers whose pictures he hasn't sold to you, because he didn't think they were good enough, nor genuine enough. 4. Other writers who are animated by professional jealousy. Every new success brings out a new crop of slanders, and I attribute this, and many others we are now hearing of, to the success of his new book on drawings.


I enclose a letter which came at the same time as yours, referring to some lie recently set afloat that B.B. was this autumn turned out of a Boston Club for his dishonest dealings. (We have heard rumours of this before from England.) This you know hasn't an atom of truth in it: but how can one meet all these things but by silence? Mr. Richard Norton goes everywhere, we hear, charging B.B. with having sold Mr. Davis his false Leonardo, and having made lots of money out of the "deal"-there's not a word of truth in it of course; but that doesn't prevent everybody who wants to, from believing it. (I have, by the way, written to Mr. Davis to ask him to contradict that in the Nation.) Most of these tales go back to a Mr. S. Arthur Strong, 1 librarian of the House of Lords, who was at one time bitterly jealous of B.B. because the lady he was in love with (and has since married) had broken her engagement to him and come to travel in Italy with us. This, we think, started Mr. Strong's hatred, but, as he is of a bitter envious nature, it continues still although he has got the lady in question. He has no regard whatever for truth, and scarcely a month passes but we hear of some monstrous lie invented by him. I feel sure the Diirer tale goes back to him. One of his last inventions was that B.B. attributed the "Bellini" at the Duke of Northumberland's to Basaiti in order to "crab" it and get it cheap for you, knowing all along it was Bellini! So you see his sword cuts both ways. I am glad you wrote to me. I regard all such tales as tributes to his talent and his success. But poor B.B. gets so awfully cut up about them, that he feels often like quitting "art" altogether, and dropping the whole set of envious backbiters, and coming to settle over here, in some wild Western place, where the connoisseurs cease from traveling and the critics are at rest. As things are, unless we engaged Pinkerton's force, and a dozen Sir George Lewises, to fight intangible enemies, I do not see how these countless tales are to be met. We saw Mr. Freer's pictures in Detroit, and met some nice people at Buffalo and Cleveland. We like the West. B.B. will write himself, but I send Yours- Mary Berenson this at once, in haste. Sanford Arthur Strong (1863-1904), English art historian and Orientalist who married Eugenie Sellers (1860-1943), an English art historian and archaeologist. ÂťI.

Dear Mrs. Berenson

Fenway Court January 29 [I 904]

I am glad indeed to get your letter today, for I have been wondering what the outcome would be if you didn't write again, for I had lost your New York banker's address, and therefore couldn't write. Misery loves company, so I ought to be glad Berenson has enemies. But he and I need not be worried by them. Indifference has surely come to me, for I find I care so little what people say and do about me. I fancy I do care though when they 329


talk vilely about my friends. I know the Widener things, and am glad you think so too!1 Do tell me about the Johnson pictures. 2 Feb. 25th and 27th, the amateur performances come off in my music room for a charity. It may be amusing. I hope you will both be here. My love to you both. Tell Berenson I was enchanted with his little note, and many thanks for your letters. Say affection instead of "friendliness" when you speak of my feeling for you two. Yours Isabella The collection of P. A. B. Widener (1834-1915), added to by his son Joseph (1872-1943), was given in 1942 to the National Gallery of Art. Âť2. The John G. Johnson Collection, then at Johnson's house in Philadelphia, is now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. ÂťI.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

The Deanery Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania Jan. 3 r, 1904

We are both made happy by your note. I tell B.B. that hatred and malice are a tribute to success, but he withers away under it-and, indeed, has been quite knocked up since receiving those letters at Pittsburg. We have had an awfully nice letter from Mr. Davis, which we have now asked him to write as a letter to the Nation, saying B.B. had nothing whatever to do with the sale of the "Leonardo." But that is only a tiny corner of the Augean Stable of slanders. However, B.B.'s most virulent enemy, Mr. Strong, died ten days ago, so I daresay things may improve. But really the only way is yours-not to care. We have already learnt, over here, not to believe things reported to us that other people have said of us. We have seen Mr. Johnson's pictures, and B.B. lunches there today. We found only three forgeries, an unusually small proportion. He has some good things, though no masterpieces. He has an Antonello, a Fra Angelico (The Dormition of the Virgin, resembling the lower part of yours), and twenty or thirty minor masters, like Sellaio, Pier Francesco Fiorentino, Michelino, Basaiti, Amico di Sandro, David Ghirlandaio and so forth-nothing very good, though some agreeable things. Most of his Italian pictures, though, are badly repainted. He seemed to have a much better lot of early Flemish pictures; but we hadn't time to go into them. The perfectly awful thing is the way his pictures are placed-all over the walls, and doors, on easels and morning-stands, you can hardly move about. I needn't tell you how fatal this is for works of art! But we have never seen anything to equal it anywhere. The naming of his pictures is very funny, as if it were done by someone who meant to lead you off the track and mix you up completely by the use of that much misleading of clues, the apeu pres. We know that Mr. Fairfax Murray 1 is largely responsible for Mr. Widener's horrors, but we can't tell who has been Mr. Johnson's blind guide. Whoever he is, he has done better 330


for Mr. Johnson than we expected, but not well) oh not at all well considering what he might have done! 2 We hope to reach Boston on the 21st) coming from Washington (New Willard Hotel) where we go on the roth. It will be enchanting to come to a Junzione in your adorable music room. 3 We both look forward with great pleasure to seeing you again, and are, as always, Your devoted B.B.'s Fairfax Murray (1849-1919), artist and eminent collector of drawings and books, was a close friend of William Morris. »2. It appears that Johnson had no particular adviser in forming his collection. »3. Probably the Vincent Club Vaudeville. The club raised money for charity with vaudeville performances by fashionable young ladies. »I.

Dear Friend,

[Westminster] March 21, 1904

Here we are in foggy, dripping London once more. It will take me a day or two to get my bearings-indeed to get over the reeling of the ship which I feel more on dry land than I did on board. For indeed we had a wonderful crossing. Not a moment of discomfort, and no shadow of a cause for discomfort. I was bored of course. The sea makes me languid; I still had, and for that matter have, my cold; I got tired of reading; and as for people, I sbmehow lack the genius for pick-ups, and very seldom get into talk with unintroduced people. So I paced the deck a great deal, thinking of the wonders of the last six months, and need I tell you how much and how frequently my thoughts went out to you-the greatest wonder of all? I need not tell you for you know. And how is it with the mysterious, fascinating, inexhaustibly beautiful Degas? It is yours I hope. If not I shall be even more disappointed than yourself. With much love from us both. Affectionately yours B.B.

Boston March 3 r, 1904

Dear friend, I am now mortgaged over my eyes, but am comparatively happy, for the Degas lady with the yellow background is here. 1 Glaenzer brought her on, is happy to leave her here, and will be paid some day! 2 In the meantime I must still more economize. It is Holy Thursday and I am fasting religiously and financially. Hurrah, a letter from B.B. I am so glad you have arrived safe and sound. Love to you both. Yours Isabella » r. Portrait of Madame Gaujelin, ballerina and actress, was commissioned in

867 and then rejected by the sitter. »2. BB had just arranged to use the dealer Eugene Glaenzer and Co . of New York and Paris as his American connection. l

331


Dear Friend,

Nervi April 6, 1904

Here I am in Italy once more-and in an Italy surpassing my remembrances and expectations. In this sheltered corner of the eastern Riviera it already is almost summer. I look out now over a park with its green lawns, its palms and stone-pines, to the violent blue sea, with its grand opalescent headlands. A fragrance mingled of orange-blossoms and lemons, of violets, pinks, and roses is wafted in thro' the open windows and the air is exquisitely light. I knew I should find all this here if I stopped off for a couple days with my dear friends the Gropallos in their enchanting villa. Tomorrow night I expect to be home where Mary preceded me a week ago with her children. 1 I spent last week in Paris, most busily, and most pleasantly. I saw all the Rothschilds, and their collections, and many of the glorious company of amateurs, all of whom praise thee and thy works, dearest Isabella Gardner. How I wish you were here now under a sky made for you, instead of in the bleak intemperate North. What demon has ever impelled man to leave the benignant shores of this brilliant sea! I think of you so often and with such pleasure, and I rejoice that I have broken the ice, and shall no longer dread returning to America, and that I shall thus see more and more of you. Most affectionately B.B. Âť r. Rachel Costelloe (1887-1940) married Oliver Strachey in 191 r. Karin Costelloe (1889-

1953) married Adrian Stephen in 1914.

Dear Friend,

[I Tatti] April l 8, 1904

You know how eager I was to have you own that beautiful Degas, so you can imagine my joy to hear from you that it is yours. From my point of view it is among your greatest possessions. Well, ten days have passed since my return, and I have not yet made an effort to resume ordinary life. The unseasonable heat, and the spell of this most radiant spring make me languid. Mary has been under the weather with the after-effects of influenza. We have had evil days with servants. So I pass nebulous days overcome with the mere aspect of the piles of books, papers and magazines that have accumulated in my absence, overcome with the luxuriance of this Tuscan paradise, the heady perfumes of the roses, and lilies of the valley, by the cuckoo call at day, and the nightingale's throb in the dark. I do not know when I shall find myself again. But meanwhile the dealers have found one. I had scarcely returned when I began to receive proposals decent and otherwise for the purchase of putative works of art. My two real friends here, Placci and the Serristori, have given me every 332


welcome-and that is not a little. I long for you to know the dear Countess. She does not begin to be as fascinating as you are-but you are so much more than one can ever hope to double-but she is-well you must know her. Affectionately B.B.

Dear Mrs. Gardner

[I Tatti] April 29, I 904

We had great rejoicings when we heard that the sphynx-woman by Degas was yours. What a collection! The meaning of the beauty of Fenway Court seems to grow while we sleep, and almost every day we say to each other "There is nothing like it!" B.B. living up to the character you know he possesses, sometimes adds "And 1 am the only person alive who can fully appreciate it!" I daresay, however, -he might except its "onlie begetter." I meant to write to you a long time ago, but that miserable influenza I caught at what BB persists in calling the Contemptible Club at Philadelphia has dealt very hardly with me. I was very ill in London, and have been in bed almost ever since I came back. I had my two jolly daughters to nurse me, so that I was not badly off, and they said, in answer to my doubt lest it was dull for them "Yes, just about as dull as heaven!" But alas, B.B. finds it really dull here. He is not like me. When I came back and saw the olives and cypresses and the little churches in blue hills I said "This is It." But he sees them all with a dull eye, and he keeps saying "America is It." So who knows how soon we may come knocking at your doors again? Certainly it is different. Here one wakes up in the morning with a delicious sense of having "nothing to do" all the coming day. We haven't been to either a dinner a luncheon, or even a tea, since we sailed, and I daresay we shan't go to one again till we return. Like the Snark, over here we "collect though we do not subscribe," and people have to make pilgrimages up to us if they want to see us. B.B. has one or two earnest seekers after art a day, who come to sit at his feet, but you, who know his opinion of his colleagues and of art studies in general, will understand that these visits are not an unmixed delight. We are taking a moral as well as a physical rest, after all our experiences. We are reading la vie de Casanova. I am afraid it is the most improper book ever written-the Arabian Nights is nowhere beside it. It isn't half so diverting either, indeed I have had enough, and yet I am only in the fourth volume. I had a letter from Mounteney Jephson the other day. He is at a German cure, but he seems better, and the marriage is at last to come off early in June. He can't persuade Miss Head to go out of mourning for her father, which seems to annoy him very much. Otherwise he seems very happy. 333


The Ramus sends you so many adoring messages, that I dare not even begin to write them!1 Any word from you will always find an enthusiastic welcome here, and any news you have time to give us, first of all about yourself and then the Palace, and about Mr. Proctor and Mr. Loeffier2 (delightful man!) and all the sundry in that adorable town of Boston. They say marvels are to be had in Japan now-why don't we all go? People are selling to help the war fund. But I must not tire your patience. We send again congratulations for the Degas, and our love. Yours devotedly [Mary Berenson] Âť r. Ramus was a name that originated with ISG. It has been variously suggested that it was

short for ignoramus or a reference to Petrus Ramus (15 l 5-72), French humanist, neoplatonist, and leader against scholasticism. Âť2. Charles Martin Loeffler (1861-1935), European-born American composer and violinist.

Dear friends

Fenway Court May 2, 1904

B.B.'s letter and a breath from Florence was a delight. The Degas continues to be the joy that it was at first. Take time, dear friends, to get well and over the strenuosities of the American life. Winter's back here, got its real blow today, but still snow and ice may come! The bay trees are being put out on the terrace over the music room, and tomorrow the servants move to Brookline, and begin to clean and get Green Hill ready. I shall camp out here for a week to give them time, but every day I shall be there grubbing in the earth, which I love. Quincy Shaw turned up yesterday. In oriental fashion he brought a gift! Such a gift-a wonderful piece of jade! Solomon and Sheba, what do you think! I can certainly not write so that you may read. Everything is so covered up here, that my paper is on the "tittery" end of a table. Kaneko, the great Jap envoi, is here. 1 I dined with him last night. Is not this a pretty tale? Someone asked him, "Do you have strong-minded women in Japan?" meaning our odious kind. "Oh yes," said he, "many, but I will tell you of one. A great warrior in this war was terribly torn between his country, for which he ought to give his life, and his mother who was old and could not live without his arm. A terrible, impossible position. What should he do? Distractedly he rushed out, distractedly rushed back, to find his mother dead, a note saying 'I go to wait for you in the hereafter, where you will come to me, having given your life for Japan!' Was not she strong-minded?" he said! Love to you both. Yours Isabella ÂťI. Viscount Kentaro Kaneko (1853-1942), statesman and diplomat, was Japan's representative in the United States during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05).

334


Both dears,

Green Hill Brookline May 12, [1904]

To begin, all the worthwhiles and darlings miss you. If they didn't, they wouldn't be either worth whiles or darlings. They would all send love if they knew I were writing. Your letter (Mrs. B.'s) came this morning. I loved it, and only longed for more. There is a bird's nest (a robin's) so near me as I write by the window, that I could reach it and cover the surprised mother with my hand. I am very glad America is still It. I hope it may always be, as long as I can't get away. When will you come back? I know nothing about anybody or thing, as at this moment I am a worried farmer, for we have never had so bad a spring. Snow, then broiling days, now East wind and the potatoes not yet in! I must run out and hold Thacher's hand!1 The sun is delicious, and the grass full of hyacinths, tulips, etc. Too beautiful, but it is East wind. I am truly distressed about Mrs. B. That she should be poorly seems impossible. I only think of her as the perfect physical one, and always that wonderful temper-the very best. I often sigh for some of that balm, which she wraps about (what a thought!) everyone within a hundred miles of her. Your favorite Robinson of the Art Museum has got back, and is the same. 2 Sargent has sent to them at the Museum a splendid "El Greco"-a monk sitting in a high chair, holding a book. Okakura3 is busy at the Museum, cataloguing the Japanese things that have been huddled there since Fenollosa's time, 4 and finds forgeries and forgeries!!! And has a great contempt for Fenollosa. Sic transit. Do get well Mrs. B. and Mr. B. don't dare to get ill. Write to me often. Always yours Isabella William(?) Thacher, ISG's gardener. »2. Edward Robinson (1858-1931) , American archaeologist, was director of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1902-05 , and both assistant director, 1905-10, and director, 1910-3 l, of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. »3. Okakura-Kakuzo (1862-1913) was curator of Oriental art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1910-13. »4. Ernest Fenollosa (1853-1908), American Orientalist, was curator of the Department of Oriental Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, l 890-97. »I.

Dear Friend,

[I Tatti] May 9, 1904

I want to ask you two very great favours, and you must try to exaucer mes voeux. The first is that you will be good enough to permit Jaccaci to let my dear friend Dr. Gronau have a photograph of your Europa to reproduce in his magisterial work on Titian which is to appear soon. The second great favour is that you will permit said Jaccaci to send me prints of all the photographs he has done in your collection. All the other collectors have consented to his letting me have photographs of their collections. Apparently

335


you alone have not. I am sure you will give your consent when you understand that Jaccaci gives me the photographs to save me the expense of getting the publication; and that besides in the photograph form they are more useful to me than in any other. Mary is almost herself again, and I am very slowly getting rested, I am not able to do anything yet, and since my return my one and only serious occupation has been reading Casanova's Memoirs. I will write again soon. Meanwhile con grazie anticipate. I am and remain Ever affectionately yours B.B.

Dear Friend,

[I Tatti] May 2 3, r 904

My chronicle is one of not altogether happy idleness. I have a perfect dread of attempting work of any kind, and yet a bad conscience about doing nothing at all. And despite this bad conscience I go on doing nothing, all that I am fit for at present and I fear for some time to come. Meanwhile spring has been advancing on its triumphant career, each day more gloriously radiant than the last. I need only step out into the woods behind the house to get the full scent of the pinewoods, now studded with golden cones. Every inch of the country-side is fragrant, and at night myriad millions of fireflies dance their sprightly dance. It is however getting very hot, and as our house is an oven, we may have to leave within a fortnight, I do not know yet where I shall go. I who used to have my plans arranged day by day for many months, if not years ahead, am now reduced to deciding from moment to moment as the caprice of my nerves dictates. So have the mighty fallen. But life is far from dull. There are books. I have recently finished one of the most remarkable, Casanova's Memoirs. There you have 8 volumes of as entertaining, sprightly, seamy, amusing narrative as you will find anywhere out of the Arabian Nights. I am sorry to say it makes Morley's Gladstone which I am finishing now, seem a very dull book. 1 But then somehow Gladstone always has bored me. For society we have had Gladys Deacon. She has altered considerably in the two years that I have not seen her. She is taller-taller now than Mary-but not more beautiful. Mentally and morally she is greatly improved. One now can talk to her quite seriously, and there is very little her mind does not grasp, and penetrate. H,appily too she is quite unspoiled, and in many respects as simple a child as when she was r 6. She and her next sister Audrey never got on very well. Audrey was also a very handsome creature, and very well educated, but obstinate and frightfully jealous of Gladys. A few weeks ago her mother brought her to a nursing home here to recover from a bad influenza she had taken in Rome. Instead of recovering the poor child died yesterday. I have not seen Gladys


for two days, but I fear the poor thing will be eaten up with remorse for not having got on better with her sister. As for Mrs. Baldwin2 she is about as fit to cope with any serious moment of existence as any other bird of paradise. Doria is here to hold her hand, and much as he bores me, I must confess he is a very good man and a real friend in need. 3 The funeral takes place this afternoon, and I am going to it, the first I shall have attended to in all my life. Your last letter was enchanting. I rejoice in your happiness over the Degas, and we were delighted with the Japanese envoy's story of a strongminded woman. Do write real letters. I simply love to have them. Ever affectionately B.B. » r. John, Viscount Morley (183 8-1923), Life of Gladstone, 3 vols. (London, 1903). »2. Florence Baldwin (formerly Mrs. Edward Parker Deacon) (1859-1918), renowned beauty and mother of four beautiful daughters including Gladys Deacon (188 l-1977), later duchess of Marlborough. »3. Prince Alfonso Doria Pamphili (1851-1914) was Florence Baldwin's

companion.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

[I Tatti] May 27, 1904

Your letter was delightful, and we enjoyed it to the full. We envied you the robin's nest, regretted the East Wind, and had a hearty laugh at your caustic remarks upon the Art Museum-that strange institution! You have become, here in Europe, a most marvellous American Myth, and people repeat stories about you as they must have done in ancient times about Semiramis or Cleopatra or Elizabeth or Catherine of Russia. When we modestly say we know you "personalmente," it is as if we then and there received a patent of nobility! Our quiet existence has been broken into this last fortnight in a very tragic manner. Gladys Deacon came from Rome to stay with us, weary of the merry-go-round of Roman festivities, and longing for a little repose from frivolity-or, shall I say, for another kind of frivolity. Her second sister, Audrey, also a very beautiful girl, was here in Florence in a nursinghome, and after Gladys had been here a few days, Audrey grew suddenly worse. They telegraphed for the mother, who came in from Rome, and after a week of extreme agony from a heart disease called endocarditis, Audrey died. She was buried here on Whitmonday, and Gladys and her mother have gone back to Rome. It was very sudden and relentless, and of course overwhelming to them. Gladys had never before faced death, and it threw all her ideas into a state of chaos, and all her feelings into rebellion. I have more than recovered my usual health, and I have been at work for four weeks, with a cousin, upon the reorganization of our collection of photographs, which has now grown to so many thousands as to be almost 337


unmanageable. If B.B. ever feels like work again, or rather, when he feels like it, I want him to find everything in order. He talks also of leaving his collection and his library to Harvard, and I want to get it, little by little, thoroughly well catalogued, with all the cross-references necessary to make it thoroughly serviceable. 1 It doesn't sound difficult, yet it really takes a great deal of thought and patience-especially as new photographs come pouring in, a hundred at a time. And the new art magazines are a perfect desperation! There has been a very pretty picture, called a Botticelli, on sale here, which has at last gone to Lady Wantage. 2 It is one of the least "Botticellian" (of the better school-pictures) I have ever seen, but the sapient Florentine critics have all agreed that it is an "early Botticelli." It must have been in some strange chromo-lithograph stage of his career, for it has no decision of line, no force of modelling, no rhythm. It is sheerly and solely "attractive"-which he seldom is. But of such is the kingdom of criticism! In England the Burlington Club has got up a Sienese Exhibition. They have taken from private collections all the pictures noted as Sienese in BB 's Central Italians, and then, to show their originality and independence, they have renamed them; giving them to the painters who were nearest to the ones B.B. gave them to, either as master or pupil. But I must not drag you into the under-world, for it is not a pleasant one! We are very much excited to hear that the Museum has got a real 'Greco.' We have worshipped him for years, for, though he generally paints rubbish, he sometimes rises to great sublimity of imagination, daring drawing and overwhelming colouring. We found a most superior Crucifixion by him in the Wilstach Collection in Philadelphia, 3 and another head of a monk belonging to rear-admiral Chadwick, attributed I think, to Bassano. The Louvre has recently bought one, at an immense price. B.B. sends all kinds of messages. He is so tired that he does nothing. As he says, if he writes a note, he leaves it to the next day to address, so unfit is he for any exertion. But I hope Switzerland this summer will bring him back to normal health. We leave in about a fortnight, as it is growing warm, so our address now will be c/o Baring Bros. With much love from us bothYours always devoted "BB's" Âť l. In 1953 Harvard University finally agreed to accept the bequest ofl Tatti and its collections. Âť2. Madonna and Child, school of Botticelli, is still in the Lockinge House collection, Wantage. Âť3. The W. P. Wilstach Collection, now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A catalogue was

published in 1922 .

Dear Friend,

Versailles July 3, 1904

It is a long, long time since I have heard from you, or even of you, except rumours that you have bought a great deal at the recent Somzee sale (If you


have, do let me know, you understand my eager curiosity). 1 And I also have not written for some three weeks, as we have been sight-seeing and travelling hard. At first we spent about ten days at Siena. That is to say, we always slept at Siena, but most of our days were passed motoring in the divine, high- skied, limpid-horizoned country. We scoured it far and wide, encountering beauty of landscape, and picturesqueness of situation everywhere, and here and there more than a few precious works of art. Our great desire now is to own a motor, a simple, quiet machine that will enable us to explore much farther than by carriage in the day, and permit us to return to possible food and lodging for the night. I no longer dare to rough it as I used to do, and as yet I know only enough of Italy to be able to make a fairly accurate map of my ignorance. At Siena itself they were having an exhibition of native art. There were few signally great things therein, but for the student a great many things that he is glad to see. It was at the last moment that I decided to come north. I was to have gone straight to St. Moritz, but the Countess Serristori failed me, and I could not face St. M. in absolute solitude. Then the N. Y Metropolitan people wanted me in Paris. Furthermore there was the exhibition of French Primitifi in Paris, and of Sienese in London, and friends in both places, and Elsie de Wolfe, 2 here at Versailles, whence I am writing to you. I passed such marvellous days here r 7 years ago, and have scarcely gone back since. Then I longed for the happiness of the future. Now I would recapture the longing of that time. It is thus we pass our lives, yearning forward and backward, rarely finding a perfect harmony between ourselves and the present moment. The exhibition of French Primitifi leaves me where it found me, convinced that except for Fouquet whom I have always known and worshipped, French painting in the r 5th century was a dependent, rather provincial affair. At the dealers I did not find much. Our friend Glaenzer has however a marvellous Greco, perhaps the very finest in existence. It is the boldest, most dazzling, most whimsical, most gorgeous canvas imaginable, representing an Adoration of the Magi. 3 That is a picture I should well like to see in your collection, for it out-Greco's every other Greco, excepting possibly the one in St. Toma at Toledo. I get almost no time for reading except the newspapers. I follow the war with passionate interest, and full of hope that Japan will defeat Russia, and thus perhaps start the emancipation of that country, and emancipate the rest of the world from the biggest game of bluff that ever has been played upon 1t. But it is time to stop. My sense of humour warns me that you may not read this letter to the end. But don't shoot at the pianist he is doing his best. Ever affectionately B.B. 339


» r. ISG purchased only the Bermejo Santa Engracia at this sale.

»2. Elsie de Wolfe (1865-

1950), American actress who later became famous as an interior decorator, lived with Elizabeth (Bessie) Marbury (1856-1933) in New York and in Versailles . As early as 1892 she and ISG visited the Wallace Collection together. In l 926 she married Sir Charles M endl. »3. El Greco's Adoration of the Shepherds was bought in 1905 by The Metropolian Museum of Art. His most famous painting, The Burial of Count Orgaz (1586), is in the church of San Tome.

Tilford July 23, 1904

Dear Friend,

I was delighted as ever to hear from you, and only wish you gave me more news of yourself. Of that you are most grudging-or is it that you think I am indifferent? I last wrote from Versailles. I remained there for 10 days, and enjoyed myself in a quiet way very much. My hostesses were charming people to get on with, and Bessie Marbury turned out an unexpectedly, and tremendously interesting person. She gathered other interesting people about her, we motored in and out of Paris, and finally, after a day with my Florentine friend the Serristori, I came to London. There I found it broiling, and stuffy. I spent three frantic days seeing pictures and people and rushed to the country. My first visit was to Jephson. Jephson the married man. He lives with his lady several miles from Goring, in a modest little cottage by the Thames. He certainly looks much better, altho' he still is fidgety and nervous. They both seem very happy, she most fond. I'm glad he's in port at last. Here I am with my brother-in-law Russell1 on the sands in the pinewoods-an almost primitive forest and heath, little more than an hour from London. Tomorrow I go to visit Mary for a few days, then five days motoring with Cook, and then S. Moritz. And you, are you to remain all summer in Brookline? I hope you are happy. I love you to be. Affectionately B.B. Bertrand Russell ( l 872-1970), English philosopher and mathematician. His first marriage was to MB's sister Alys in 1894. »I.

Fernhurst July 27, 1904

Dear Friend,

I wrote you a few days ago. I told you there that I was going to Paris next week, but I did not tell you why. Well, it is to meet the Metropolitan Museum people in connection with Glaenzer's Greco. I referred to this picture when writing to you from Versailles titre du curiosite. You have so thoroughly weaned me in the last two years from any thought of offering you further pictures that, after sighing for the days when you bought pictures,

a

340


and regretting that the Greco had not turned up then, I put you out of my mind as a possible purchaser. I took my friends of the Metropolitan to see it. They seem to have been very much impressed by it, and I trust they paid some attention to my statement that they should have a Greco, and that if ever they were going to have one, Glaenzer's was the one to have. But I doubt whether the picture spoke to them, whether the form of art is one they really approve. And I am tired of the appalling up-hill work of persuading people more or less against their will. This particular Greco however is a picture I am eager to get for America. If you wanted it, and could afford it, my relations to the Metropolitan are still of so very loose a kind as to permit me to do what I can to procure it for you. But we meet in Paris on Aug. 4, or 5. I am in duty bound to run no risk of this Greco not getting to America, and if you can't afford to buy it, I must do all I can, repugnant tho' persuasion is to me, to induce the Metropolitan to take it. The price Glaenzer is asking them is forty thousand dollars ($40, ooo) and it does not seem to them at all excessive. It certainly is not if we consider that the Louvre paid $r 5,000 for its V2 length figure of a St. Ferdinand, and that our Museum of Fine Arts is said to have paid $r 8,ooo for its single figure. From this price Glaenzer will certainly not come down, and on top there will be the duty. The only alleviation there would be any use urging upon him would be to have him take the picture home himself, and try to pay such duties as dealers pay-but I am not at all sure of obtaining that. Of course it is to Glaenzer's interest to sell to the Metropolitan rather than to you . Not only is it much more of an advertisement to sell to a Museum like the Metropolitan frequented by everybody, but as the Metropolitan is certainly going to buy more and more, he naturally wants to start well with them with such a masterpiece as the Greco. I say this to warn you that you may fail to get the picture even tho' you do want it. But if you really are keen about it, and eager to do all you can to acquire you will directly on receipt of this cable: Glaenzer, 5 Rue Scribe, Paris, YEGRECO. If this reaches Glaenzer before the Metropolitan has decided, and if you cable at once you may reach first. I will do all I can for you-but remember, you must not be cross with me if I fail. I am sure you now understand just what the situation is. But you have seen no photograph of the Greco. I will try to have one sent you. It may however take a fortnight or even more before you get itand then it may be altogether too late. Even when the photograph does reach you it will give you but the faintest idea of the value of this Adoration of the Shepherds. I should add that it is about 6 ft. high, and-what is a great advantage-on canvas. If you can afford to buy this best Greco that is ever likely to be sold, then take my word as to its quality and value, and cable without waiting for the photograph. 341


This is a beast of a business letter, and I will not attempt to make anything else of it. Yours ever B.B.

Dear Berenson

York Harbour Maine August 2 [1904]

Here I am for two or three days stopping with our poet and story writer Aldrich and his wife. 1 It is fearfully warm and sticky. And the houses are as near together as a bed of mushrooms. The sea with its sheet of fog in front of all-and a trolley car going by the other side every 5 minutes-the cottagers owning no horses, but always going to and fro by trolley! All that is just my contrary! But there are most interesting people here, so that's what I'm doing-the people. Aldrich has just written his rst play for the real stage and it is accepted, to be acted by that free-born American Nance O'Neil. 2 And the premiere is to be Oct. rst. So-Then, there's that softvoiced Southern drawler Thomas Nelson Page, 3 who is better even than his soft books. Then there is President Pritchett4 of our Technology, the up-todate one who is more keen than ever by contrast. And there are half a dozen clever women so one's ears and understanding need not slumber nor sleep. All that is great change for me, green from Brookline farming. I go back to that tomorrow. But have I told you of the oriental life there. We have had there full moon "nights that would make the wife of a blind man cry-" as the Japs say. And we have had the Japs themselves-Okakura plus his two friends who constantly come up my green hill "aoyama" as they call it. 5 And we sit under the trees, one of them sketches (not in our manner), one arranges flowers as only they can, and through it all we become far away and hear only Okakura's voice as he tells those wonderful poems and tales of the East. Perhaps tomorrow night I shall see them mistily coming up over the grass, the only light, their cigarette. It has really made the summer different. You ask if I am happy? Oh yes. I want to be. And when I don't feel alone, I am. But sometimes neuralgia comes, and I am not exactly happy! I wish you could be one of some of the talks here-and one of the "dreams" at Brookline. Aldrich is up in his great study and asks if I won't come up too and talk! So I go. Love to you both- Yours Isabella

a

» r. Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836-1907), author and editor of the Atlantic Monthly, 1881-90.

Judith of Bethulfa opened in Boston on 13 October 1904. »2. Nance O'Neil (b . 1874) first appeared in New York in 1896. »3. Thomas Nelson Page (1853-1922), American novelist and diplomat. »4. Henry Smith Pritchett (1857-1939), American astronomer, was president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1900-06. »5. Okakura-Kakuzo was the author of The Book of Tea (New York, 1906). His two friends were Okabe-Kakuya, a metal worker, and Rokkaku Shisui, a lacquerer, who were working with him and who spent the summer in a small cottage at Green Hill. Okakura had a profound influence on his own coun-

342


try as well as on the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and on ISG. He understood all the arts of the West and was instrumental in interpreting them to his countrymen while advancing, as head of both a commission on national patrimony and a new art school, the best traditions of Japan.

Dear Friend,

[Versailles] Aug. 5, 1904

I spent a broiling hot day in Paris with my N. Y. friends, being with them from ro to 6. As a reward for my virtue I rushed hither to Elsie's and have had a delicious cool night, and now am taking a leisurely hour before returning to Paris. My N. Y. friends and I spent another hour before the Greco. I was amused to see how it took hold of them, by the collar as it were, and despite all their determination to dislike and disapprove, fascinated them so much that they could scarcely be torn away after an hour of gazing. I have no doubt they will take it if you don't. I am at peace therefore about its going to America, and I have no interest in your getting it, except in so far that I have not yet lost my own eagerness that your collection should contain certain masterpieces, and except in so far as it gives me pleasure to help you to your desires. But the N. Y. people have to get the consent of a committee, which means delay. Glaenzer has not given them an option. So if you act with speed you have every chance of getting it. I have now done all I can, and the rest of the negotiations you can carry on with Glaenzer direct. Tomorrow I go to S. Moritz, whence I shall write you soon: Yours affectionately and devotedly B. B.

Dear Berenson

Green Hill Brookline, Mass. August 7 [ r 904]

This moment comes a cable from Glaenzer saying the Greco will be held for me until Aug. r 5. Forty thousand is not possible. I had already written to you to say so, before the cable came. That letter I now destroy. When I wrote to you that I hoped I could have the picture, I never dreamed of such a price. It seems to me, all ignorant as I apparently am, that it is preposterous. Don't you think it enormous? But it was good of you to work for me as I see you have done. I thank you as ever, from my heart. Potter and Joe Smith are both here, spending Sunday. They came to this part of the world to be here for the funeral of Denman Ross 's mother 1 that was yesterday. She died very suddenly. He, poor man, feels heartbroken. 0 h! How I wish I had a million! Great love to you both. Alfy Isabella 343


» r. Denman Ross ( l 8 53- l 9 3 5), renowned collector and longtime trustee of the Boston Mu-

seum of Fine Arts, was a friend who occasionally assisted ISG. His mother was Frances Waldo Ross.

Dear Friend,

S. Moritz Aug. 13, 1904

I am perfectly delighted with your letter from York Harbor which I have just r:eceived. I am glad you had such a good time there with Aldrich, and Page. I wish I had known them. I met Okakura at a dinner giyen by the Round Table Club in New York, and was very much excited by him. But I had only a few words with him, and I doubt whether he would remember me. I envy you your seeing so much of him and his Jap. friends, and hearing so much of their poetry, and getting their point of view. Few things are of greater interest to me. I got here six days ago, and but for the reviving, joyous air I find it odious. The railway now comes up all the way, and the station has ruined all the sun falls[?]. There is constant blasting, and a perpetual clatter of building. And everything is up and looking like a mining camp. Then the population has changed. In the hotel we used to be like a house-party, or even a happy family, and very jolly. Now there is none here but the rather awe-inspiring Pallavicini. And in the whole Engadine I have not one intimate, no body to be in love with, no one even to make love to. Why are you not here, why? I feel at least ten years younger, and so much gayer that you would find me quite entertaining, and you would make me so happy. As it is I have to put up with pis aller like Lady Sassoon, 1 and dawdle about with all sorts of inane Italians, and French. Montesquiou is here, and so is Mrs. Don Cameron, but we have not met yet, altho' of course we shall. Mrs. Potter Palmer2 is here but I do not expect to meet her. I am feebly flirting with a Mrs. Harrison, 3 whose father is, I understand, a Mr. Davis of Boston formerly, who seems to have become a British subject a la Astor. I will write again very soon, because I love to as it gives me the illusion of being with you. Sincerely and affectionately B. B. Aline, Lady Sassoon (d. 1909), wife of Sir Edward Sassoon and daughter of Baron Gustave de Rothschild, was an artist and collector. She is thought to be the person who introduced BB to Duveen. »2. Elizabeth Cameron, wife of Sen. James Donald Cameron (1833-1918), was a Washington hostess and a confidante of Henry Adams. »3. Ethel Harrison rented the Villa La Floridiana in Naples . See BB to ISG, l January 1905. »I.

Dear Friend,

[St. Moritz] Aug. 21, 1904

Much as I should like to see your collection enriched by the Greco, and hard as I have worked to give you a chance of acquiring it, I am very happy that 344


you have decided against it. True, I had as yet no formal engagement with the N. Y people, but your getting it might have seemed to them an action for which I was responsible and they might have resented it. So all's well that ends well. I have been more amused these last days. There are so many people here that one does not see more of any one than is agreeable. I have had a glimpse of Mrs. Cameron whose manner is almost as charming as yours, dined and re-dined with the Rudinis, 1 frequented the Rothschild ladies and their husbands etc. Most of all have I enjoyed Montesquiou. The other day I was alone with him nine hours. He talked steadily, and not a moment was dull. Most of it had the brilliance of genius. Today he gave a number of us, including Matilde Serao, 2 a luncheon, and thereafter he recited some of his portraits. They come near the best epigrams of a Martial or Juvenal. A few days ago Placci appeared, and at the same time Mr. and Mrs. Raph Curtis. 3 He is handsome and nice, but I fancy not destined to be a devoted friend of mine. But the social gaiety reminds me almost of my mad career at home. Happily in a week most of the gorgeous fancy people will be gone, and the few of us who remain will settle down to a quiet cosy time. I am awfully sorry to hear of the death of Mrs. Ross. She was always so nice to me-and poor Ross will miss her I'm sure. A bient8t Yours affectionately B. B. »I. Antonio Starabba, marquis of Rudini (1839-1908), was prime minister of Italy, 1891-92 and l 896-98 . His wife, Lea, and their daughter-in-law Dora, wife of Carlo, were in St. Moritz. »2. Matilde Serao (1856-1927), Italian novelist. »3. Ralph ("Raph ") Curtis and BB had a long correspondence beginning in 1909.

Dear Mrs. Gardner,

High Buildings Haslem ere Aug. 27, 1904

Your letter of the I 1th has come, via the 'Ramus and St. Moritz. I have been spending the time of his absence having a rather serious bicycle accident. I concussed my brain, and am only now being allowed to read and write again. I have been lucky in the chance to recover completely-for it seems I shall not have even a scar to boast of. There has been a certain pleasure in being ill, for my two daughters came in and out so full of health and spirits, and yet such nice nurses. And now, convalescing, the world glows with new sunshine and seems lovelier than it ever was before. The 'Ramus meantime, as I daresay he has written you, is enjoying himself at St. Mortiz. There is a lovely lady there who says she is in training to take the place of the Contessa whom D' Annunzio is now in love with; there is Mrs. Don Cameron; there is the ever-young Carlo Placci; and there are various Jervesses, Sassoons, Rothschilds 1 and so on, eager for what they 345


think is Culture, with husbands whom Bernhard likes as he liked the practical, able men he met at Chicago. Above all, there is the champagne air of the glaciers. We shall not get back to Florence until November, for we want to spend October travelling for the book on the North Italian Painters. Last year, in October, we were looking at your wonderful Siena-like view of Boston, and strolling in the Italian Garden! 2 I send you a little snap-shot of our house-chiefly remarkable for its cypresses-that I received from a friend this morning. When are you coming to see us there? Proud and glad should we be if that day ever arrived. And yet when I think what you would leave, I lose hope. I will write again, when I am a little stronger, and tell you about our plans for work, as you so kindly ask me about them. Yours always devotedly Mary Berenson Lucie Rothschild, sister of Lady Sassoon and wife of Leon, first baron Lambert. »2. The Italian garden at Green Hill, created by ISG in the years after she and Jack inherited the estate from the elder Gardners in I 884, was justly famous and was illustrated in several publications . »I.

Green Hill Brookline Sept 7 [1904] You are a very dear darling Mary Berenson; and I am not "Mrs. Gardner," but Isabella! Your letter has come, this moment, and I am appalled to hear of your accident-What a nasty thing! And, how did you manage to live through it? I have had words from the Ramus-the photo by the bye, is good, indeed. I am wondering how long, oh Lord, how long it will be before he succumbs to Mrs. Don Cameron and gets over it!-but-entirely ! I wish he would graft some poison into the future D' Annunziana, that she might poison him. I am too weary tonight to really write. I have just returned from a most feverish and truly enchanting (in its way) 3 days at Newport. I was stopping with Mrs. Rollins Morse, 1 but rarely I saw her because I was dragged hither and yon to dine and lunch and tea etc. It was great fun-but the quiet here now seems blissful. My maid is ill and my kitchen-maid-cook, and my chambermaid are leaving, and I feel rather worried. And everything is burned up by drought. My best love to you both. May your goose hang high. Get very well, and write to me about it all. Alfy yours Isabella »I.

Marion Steedman Morse, wife of Rollins Morse, was one of ISG's longtime friends.