Yale and Long Wharf partner on lecture

The real life relationship between mid 20th century art connoisseur Bernard Berenson and art dealer Joseph Duveen was fascinatingly complex. Karen Serres, the Nina and Lee Griggs Associate Curator of European Art and a leading expert on both Duveen and Berenson, will deliver a lecture about this fascinating bit of art history on Monday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. at Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven, CT. Admission is free.

The lecture, entitled “Masters of Their Domain: Joseph Duveen and Bernard Berenson in Context,” will give audiences a real life glimpse at the art world titans that Simon Gray so effectively dramatized in The Old Masters, by Simon Gray, currently playing on the Mainstage.

The talk will provide a general context to the almost larger-than-life figures that were Joseph Duveen and Bernard Berenson, focusing on their biography at two strategic points in their lives – the beginning of their partnership in 1907 and its dissolution in 1937, the period when the play is set. Serres will also analyze their contribution to their respective fields and to the development of American museums. Finally, she will highlight the economic and technological factors that helped them in their endeavors.

Berenson was recognized as a preeminent Renaissance scholar, known for his precise and unquestioned attributions. “His word that the painting was a Titian was as good as any signature – better, since that signature might be a forgery, while B.B.’s eye (it was claimed) was infallible,” write Meryle Secrest in her biography of Berenson, entitled “Being Bernard Berenson.”

Duveen was considered one of the most influential art dealers of all time, working very closely with Berenson. “According to Berenson, Duveen himself was an artist of sorts; he got an artist’s pleasure out of tremendous sales, he negotiated, and out of his role as purveyor to the most powerful men in the world … there was something about Duveen – ‘a Chaplinesque quality,’ Berenson calls – that captivated him,” wrote S.N. Behrman in his biography, “Duveen.”

The lecture is presented in conjunction with Long Wharf Theatre’s American premiere production of Simon Gray’s The Old Masters, directed by Michael Rudman. The show runs through Feb. 12. Sam Waterston portrays Bernard Berenson. Brian Murray plays the role of Joseph Duveen.

To register for the event, contact Johnna Gluth at 203-772-8257 or via e-mail at Johnna.gluth@longwharf.org

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