In the Company of Art: A Museum Director's Private Journals (Hardcover)

In the Company of Art: A Museum Director's Private Journals By Perry T. Rathbone, Belinda Rathbone (Selected by) Cover Image

In the Company of Art: A Museum Director's Private Journals (Hardcover)


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Over the years as the director of the St. Louis Art Museum and later the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Perry T. Rathbone kept a journal. These are his unguarded and spontaneous expressions of the moment, not meant for publication--at least not in his lifetime.

Alone in his study at the end of a day, Rathbone wrote in a large, unlined sketchbook, unloading whatever was fresh on his mind. Whether a meeting at the museum, a business trip, or a party he had just returned from, he wrote about whom he met, what he thought of them, the ambiance, the conversation, the art, the wine, and the food.

Rathbone's journals provide a window onto an era of seismic cultural change seen through the eyes of an art czar and a tastemaker. There are meetings with artists such as William de Kooning, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, Isamu Noguchi, and Alexander Calder, men of letters such as T.S. Eliot and Aldous Huxley. There are candid impressions of the collectors he courted, entertained, and forbore, such as Peggy Guggenheim and Joseph Pulitzer, and of the eccentric Boston Brahmin families with historic ties to the MFA--the Lowells, Lambs, Warrens, Coolidges, and Codmans. And of course he writes of the thrill of assisting Jaqueline Kennedy in the early 1960s with loans from the MFA to adorn the private quarters in the White House.

In the Company of Art opens with journal entries from the later years of Rathbone's time at the St. Louis Art Museum in the early 1950s. But the greatest concentration of entries focuses on the early 1960s, during the banner years of Rathbone's directorship of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (the meteoric "Rathbone Era") when he began to enjoy the rewards of his achievements at the museum with new acquisitions, renovated galleries, rising attendance and membership. "Many of the museum's great acquisitions," the Boston Globe wrote, "can be credited to Perry Rathbone, the legendary director of the MFA."

Urbane and charismatic, Rathbone won renown as the dean of museum directors in the United States, rightly celebrated for his ability to transform museums from quiet repositories of art into vibrant cultural centers. This is a unique record of what he thought and how he felt along the way.
Product Details ISBN: 9781567928037
ISBN-10: 156792803X
Publisher: David R. Godine Publisher
Publication Date: May 21st, 2024
Pages: 200
Language: English