Money for the Most Exquisite Things: Bankers and Collecting from the Medici to the Rockefellers

March 1 - 2, 2013


Acquisition by Force: Art Thief Lorenzo de' Medici

Dale Kent, professor of history at UC Riverside, describes how Lorenzo de' Medici, a "ruthless" collector, built the Medici family art collection. 

Art Appreciation: Are Bankers Better Art Collectors?

David Alan Brown, curator of Italian painting at the National Gallery of Art, discusses how banker-collectors fit into the art world. 

Art Detective: Using a Painting as Historical Evidence

Edgar Munhall, the curator emeritus of the Frick Collection, uses a portrait of D. David-Weill, standing in his art gallery, to appreciate the banker's collection.

Art for All: Private Collections and the Public Trust

Art historian Pippa Shirley explains millionaire art collector Ferdinand de Rothschild's motivations for donating the bulk of his collection to the public on the event of his death in 1898.

Art Gallery and Office: Corporate Art at Chase Bank

Manuel Gonzalez, former executive director of the Chase Art Program, shows off some of the art in the lobby of Chase Bank's new Brooklyn branch to prove that corporate art is more than decoration. 

Corporate Portrait: The Economic Might of Barings Bank

Corporate finance adviser Charles Sebag-Montefiore looks at how the Baring banking family, which helped issue bonds for the Louisiana Purchase, began accumulating wealth and art.

Henry Hope Moves to London

Art history scholar Daniella Ben-Arie discusses the relocation of Dutch merchant banker, patron, and art collector Henry Hope to 1790s London.

History of the Medici Bank: Connoisseurs and Corruption

Richard Sylla, economics professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, shares the history of the House of Medici, a banking dynasty in 14th century Italy. 

How Church & State Brought Renaissance Art to the Masses

Robert Skwirblies, a Ph.D. candidate at the Freie Universität, Berlin, describes how church and state brought early Renaissance paintings from art collector Edward Solly to Germany's capital city.

How Financier J.P. Morgan Fed the New York Art Scene

Everett Fahy, chairman emeritus of the Department of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art , describes how the New York art scene, including public museums, depended on the later art purchases of J.P. Morgan.

Robert Lehman's 'Dreadful' Art from the School of Paris

Everett Fahy, chairman emeritus of the Department of European Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, faults former head of Lehman Brothers Robert Lehman for blindly collecting paintings from the School of Paris.

Wall-to-Wall Art: The Hope House and Private Galleries

Scholar Jeannie Chapel describes the curation of the Hope House, a private gallery in Amsterdam, and the art collection of Hope&Co.'s John Hope.

About this conference

The Center for the History of Collecting will host a two-day symposium, Money for the Most Exquisite Things: Bankers and Collecting from the Medici to the Rockefellers.

Twelve speakers will examine collecting practices by bankers and merchant-banking families between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries, not only the Medici and the Rockefellers, but the Rothschild, David-Weill, and Lehman families, among others. The presentations will provoke questions about the ways in which banker-collectors were viewed at different times in history, what motivated their collecting, and what prompted many banks to form institutional collections.

The symposium is made possible through the support of Walter A. Eberstadt, Retired Partner, Lazard Frères and Co. and Antonio Weiss, Global Head of Investment Banking, Lazard Frères and Co.

About The Frick Collection

Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), the coke and steel industrialist, philanthropist, and art collector, left his New York residence and his remarkable collection of Western paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts to the public “for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a gallery of art, [and] of encouraging and developing the study of fine arts and of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects.” Designed and built for Mr. Frick in 1913 and 1914 by Thomas Hastings of Carrère and Hastings, the mansion provides a grand domestic setting reminiscent of the noble houses of Europe for the masterworks from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century that it contains. Fine artists represented include Antico, Bellini, Constable, Corot, Fragonard, Gainsborough, Goya, El Greco, Holbein, Houdon, Ingres, Manet, Monet, Rembrandt, Renoir, Riccio, Titian, Turner, Velázquez, Vermeer, and Whistler.

For more information, visit The Frick Collection