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A Paris Life, A Baltimore Treasure

The Remarkable Lives of George A. Lucas and His Art Collection

Stanley Mazaroff

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The gripping biography of a man and his passion for art.

In 1857, George A. Lucas, a young Baltimorean who was fluent in French and enamored of French art, arrived in Paris. There, he established an extensive personal network of celebrated artists and art dealers, becoming the quintessential French connection for American collectors. The most remarkable thing about Lucas was not the art that he acquired for his clients (who included William and Henry Walters, the founders of the Walters Art Museum, and John Taylor Johnston, the founding president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) but the…

The gripping biography of a man and his passion for art.

In 1857, George A. Lucas, a young Baltimorean who was fluent in French and enamored of French art, arrived in Paris. There, he established an extensive personal network of celebrated artists and art dealers, becoming the quintessential French connection for American collectors. The most remarkable thing about Lucas was not the art that he acquired for his clients (who included William and Henry Walters, the founders of the Walters Art Museum, and John Taylor Johnston, the founding president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) but the massive collection of 18,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and etchings, as well as 1,500 books, journals, and other sources about French artists, that he acquired for himself. Paintings by Cabanel, Corot, and Daubigny, prints by Whistler, Manet, and Cassatt, and portfolios of information about hundreds of French artists filled his apartment and spilled into the adjacent flat of his mistress.

Based primarily on Lucas’s notes and diaries, as well as thousands of other archival documents, Stanley Mazaroff’s A Paris Life, A Baltimore Treasure tells the fascinating story of how Lucas brought together the most celebrated French artists with the most prominent and wealthy American collectors of the time. It also details how, nearing the end of his life, Lucas struggled to find a future home for his collection, eventually giving it to Baltimore’s Maryland Institute. Without the means to care for the collection, the Institute loaned it to the Baltimore Museum of Art, where most of the art was placed in storage and disappeared from public view. But in 1990, when the Institute proposed to auction or otherwise sell the collection, it rose from obscurity, reached new glory as an irreplaceable cultural treasure, and became the subject of an epic battle fought in and out of court that captivated public attention and enflamed the passions of art lovers and museum officials across the nation.

A Paris Life, A Baltimore Treasure is a richly illustrated portrayal of Lucas's fascinating life as an agent, connoisseur, and collector of French mid-nineteenth-century art. And, as revealed in the book, following Lucas's death, his enormous collection continued to have a vibrant life of its own, presenting new challenges to museum officials in studying, conserving, displaying, and ultimately saving the collection as an important and intrinsic part of the culture of our time.

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A Paris Life, A Baltimore Treasure

Stanley Mazaroff

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Publication Date: June 6, 2023
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Reviews

With rich period detail and a genuine warmth towards its subject, it is eminently readable. Written for scholars and a general audience alike A Paris Life, a Baltimore Treasure amplifies Lucas's vital role in linking collectors in the United States and French artists during the highpoint of American buying power, from the Civil War until the mid 1880s, a story that, to date, has only been told in temporary exhibitions of Lucas's collection.

Stanley Mazaroff has thoughtfully recreated the legacy of one of America’s best documented late-nineteenth-century French art collections—its formation by a well-connected expatriate, its journey across time and space as taste and its institutional keepers changed, and its enduring significance both for scholars and the city that preserved it.

Stanley Mazaroff's elegantly written account of all facets of the life and career of George A. Lucas provides a much needed and reliable source for the activity of this influential agent to art collectors. Mazaroff's work expands our appreciation of the cultural life of Belle Époque Paris and Gilded Age America.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
7
x
10
Pages
344
ISBN
9781421424446
Illustration Description
36 color illus., 72 b&w illus., 1 line drawing
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Prologue
1. The Cultivation of Lucas
2. The Wandering Road to Paris
3. Lucas and Paris in a Time of Transition
4. Lucas and Whistler
5. The Links to Lucas
6. From Ecouen

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Prologue
1. The Cultivation of Lucas
2. The Wandering Road to Paris
3. Lucas and Paris in a Time of Transition
4. Lucas and Whistler
5. The Links to Lucas
6. From Ecouen to Barbizon
7. M, Eugene, and Maud
8. When Money Is No Object
9. The Lucas Collection
10. The Final Years
11. The Terms of Lucas's Will
12. A Collection in Search of a Home
13. The Shot across the Bow
14. The Glorification of Lucas
15. In Judge Kaplan's Court
16. Lucas Saved
Postscript
Appendix
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Stanley Mazaroff

Recognized annually in Best Lawyers in America, Stanley Mazaroff retired from the active practice of law to study art history at the Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Walters Art Museum.