Rogues' Gallery Part 2

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Rogues' Gallery



Rogues' Gallery Part 2




A month later, a group of German-Americans presented the parks commissioners with a pet.i.tion signed by ten thousand demanding Sunday openings. In May, the New York Times New York Times asked if any public money at all should be spent on private inst.i.tutions that show "silly irritation when their judgment has been called in question" and "turn a deaf ear" to "such a popular demand, for example, as opening on Sundays." For the next decade, inaction and delay would be the museums' main weapons in their fight against Sunday openings. In December 1882, a Baltimore collector sent Johnston $10,000 to pay for two years' worth of open Sundays. Months later, his money was returned. asked if any public money at all should be spent on private inst.i.tutions that show "silly irritation when their judgment has been called in question" and "turn a deaf ear" to "such a popular demand, for example, as opening on Sundays." For the next decade, inaction and delay would be the museums' main weapons in their fight against Sunday openings. In December 1882, a Baltimore collector sent Johnston $10,000 to pay for two years' worth of open Sundays. Months later, his money was returned.



The summer after the 1884 Feuardent verdict, the issue heated up again when the parks commissioners allowed a Sunday concert in Central Park for the first time. Sabbatarian preachers railed, and the devout quaked, but the city survived this unprecendented mash-up of the ma.s.ses and the cla.s.ses, and the clamor for open museums on Sundays rose again.



Some Metropolitan trustees knew that the museums were on the wrong side of history. When Samuel Putnam of the American Secular Union delivered yet another Sunday pet.i.tion in March 1886, this one signed by 9,000 citizens and endorsed by 120 labor organizations representing 50,000 workers, Choate hoped it might win the day, but Marquand, the treasurer, felt the pet.i.tion lacked prominent names. Regardless, the politicians noticed. In April, in a lopsided 2-to-1 vote, the state legislature authorized the city to give each museum $10,000 a year to pay for Sundays if the city's Board of Estimate agreed. Marquand aired his fear for the safety of the Met's treasures in the presence of the Sunday hordes. Nonetheless, in December the Board of Estimate approved the expenditure and directed the museums to open their doors.



Luigi Palma di Cesnola likely sneered at that. When he'd been named director, Cesnola had been handed an inst.i.tution worth $390,000 with $60,000 in debts. He'd decided years before that the museum needed to pay off those debts and embarked on a personal campaign to see that it did. On Christmas Eve 1881, he'd written a letter to J. Pierpont Morgan. "I wish you with all my heart the merriest of Christmas possible," he began, "and I am sure you will have it. I made my mind up to pay off the only debt of the Museum and keep it forever so. I have in three weeks raised among my friends nearly two thirds of the whole debt. Will you give me like H. R. Bishop did $3,000? If not so much give me at least half or one third, will you? You will enjoy your Christmas much better if you grant my request which after all it is not for me but for the public. Believe me."53 Now, years later, the museum's holdings were worth a million dollars, and it was debt-free.54 Which meant that Cesnola didn't need to listen to the public any more than he needed to listen to his friends. He'd even ended his friendship with the loyal Hiram Hitchc.o.c.k when his former supporter, recently widowed, had the audacity to propose to one of Cesnola's daughters. Which meant that Cesnola didn't need to listen to the public any more than he needed to listen to his friends. He'd even ended his friendship with the loyal Hiram Hitchc.o.c.k when his former supporter, recently widowed, had the audacity to propose to one of Cesnola's daughters.55 And he was just as brutal in informing the unwashed ma.s.ses where they stood with him. In an interview in January 1887, he let loose, calling the Sunday wannabes "loafers, sc.u.m." To allow in "people who would peel bananas, eat lunches, even spit, would be simply unthinkable." Perspiring, his pince-nez slipping off his nose, he even quoted William H. Vanderbilt's infamous line, "The public be d.a.m.ned." And he was just as brutal in informing the unwashed ma.s.ses where they stood with him. In an interview in January 1887, he let loose, calling the Sunday wannabes "loafers, sc.u.m." To allow in "people who would peel bananas, eat lunches, even spit, would be simply unthinkable." Perspiring, his pince-nez slipping off his nose, he even quoted William H. Vanderbilt's infamous line, "The public be d.a.m.ned."



"The erroneous idea has gained some currency that the museum is a public inst.i.tution," he fumed. "The public has no claim on it at all." If forced to open, Cesnola said, he would stop heating the building. "Let the public go there and freeze. When they had become stiff I would set them up among the other groups of statuary."



Unfortunately for Cesnola, a Parks Department commissioner had spotted people entering the museum on a Sunday and tried to get in himself. That embarra.s.sing fact was confirmed by Cesnola, who admitted that special friends of his and of the trustees were sometimes admitted on Sundays, though he rationalized that such pa.s.ses were rare. The parks commissioner, no special friend, had been turned away. Which may explain why the department now demanded an answer about Sundays before finalizing its budgets. But the museum was about to get a pa.s.s. The city's latest mayor, Abram Hewitt, though a Democrat, was also a wealthy iron manufacturer and a friend of many trustees, and he wanted to give the museums money without conditions, even though he, too, favored Sunday openings. Early in March 1887, the museum's latest expansion was approved.



Hewitt got further by offering that carrot than his predecessors had by beating the museums with sticks. A few weeks later, the trustees of both the Met and the natural history museum met at the mayor's home. After failing to win motions approving Sunday openings, even as an experiment, Choate suggested that an informal, nonbinding vote be taken, simply recommending the idea to the two museum boards, and the motion pa.s.sed. But when those boards still refused to act, Hewitt threatened to cut them off forever. The tide had begun to turn-in Philadelphia and Boston, the museums gave in and opened, and one potential donor was said to have spurned the Met because it wouldn't wouldn't open on the Sabbath-but Sunday openings were still a long way off. open on the Sabbath-but Sunday openings were still a long way off.



THE SIZE OF THE MUSEUM MORE THAN DOUBLED WHEN IT opened its new south wing on December 18, 1888, with a ceremony that began with a reverend's prayer that the museum devote itself to the happiness and improvement of all cla.s.ses of people in New York. Marquand, the treasurer and acting president, then thanked the public but even more so the city, for its dedication to the museum as a place of instruction for its people. Next up was Vice President Prime, who detailed who had paid for what, concluding that even though the museum's members had contributed two times what the city had, "artist and student and workingman will all find here rest, refreshment and recreation." Mayor Hewitt then stepped forward to declare the wing open. He pointedly added his hope that "the time will come when on no day, the people shall be excluded." opened its new south wing on December 18, 1888, with a ceremony that began with a reverend's prayer that the museum devote itself to the happiness and improvement of all cla.s.ses of people in New York. Marquand, the treasurer and acting president, then thanked the public but even more so the city, for its dedication to the museum as a place of instruction for its people. Next up was Vice President Prime, who detailed who had paid for what, concluding that even though the museum's members had contributed two times what the city had, "artist and student and workingman will all find here rest, refreshment and recreation." Mayor Hewitt then stepped forward to declare the wing open. He pointedly added his hope that "the time will come when on no day, the people shall be excluded."



The people clearly had the sense that this was now inevitable, and the New York Times New York Times review of the new wing reflected that. The Met "is now riding on the crest of the wave of popularity," it said, thanks in no small part to a vastly increased collection, highlighted by an 1887 bequest of more than 140 then-modern paintings by Catharine Lorillard Wolfe. A wealthy, philanthropic spinster, Wolfe had taken up collecting on the advice of her doctor. She also left the museum an unprecedented $200,000 endowment for the care of her pictures and the purchase of more-a gift that keeps giving today. The gift, mostly then-trendy contemporary art, included Goya's review of the new wing reflected that. The Met "is now riding on the crest of the wave of popularity," it said, thanks in no small part to a vastly increased collection, highlighted by an 1887 bequest of more than 140 then-modern paintings by Catharine Lorillard Wolfe. A wealthy, philanthropic spinster, Wolfe had taken up collecting on the advice of her doctor. She also left the museum an unprecedented $200,000 endowment for the care of her pictures and the purchase of more-a gift that keeps giving today. The gift, mostly then-trendy contemporary art, included Goya's Bullfight Bullfight, Delacroix's Abduction of Rebecca Abduction of Rebecca, Cezanne's View of the Domaine Saint-Joseph View of the Domaine Saint-Joseph, and Daumier's Don Quixote Don Quixote-and was one of the first of the museum's conditional bequests; the Met agreed to be bound to keep her paintings together and separate from the main collection. Those and loan exhibitions of dozens of old masters by Marquand and Henry O. Havemeyer, a sugar merchant, spoke clearly of the growing wealth, taste, and power of American art collectors.



Nine days later, Mayor Hewitt and the Board of Estimate blinked-again-and agreed to an additional $10,000-a-year subsidy (atop the $15,000 already appropriated) if the museums would agree to open not on Sundays but on Tuesday and Sat.u.r.day nights. They did. It was a holding action that would hold for another two years. In the meantime, control of the Met's board slowly shifted away from its older members, an inevitable process spotlighted when John Taylor Johnston stepped down as president and was replaced by the treasurer, Henry Gurdon Marquand, just a few weeks after it was revealed that Marquand was going to give a group of thirty-seven old masters-including works by Vermeer, Constable, Gainsborough, Velazquez, Van Dyck, Rubens, Rembrandt, Hals, and da Vinci-to the museum. Fifteen more paintings followed. Many would later be reattributed to lesser artists, but Marquand's gift, which he'd consciously gathered to be given away, raised the standard of the museum while raising the bar for generous donors first set by Blodgett and Johnston.



Marquand had grown up working for his father, a prominent jeweler and silversmith whose two sons took over the business before branching out into real estate investment and banking. Henry then became a banker and railroad man, doing well enough to retire at the age of sixty-two in 1881 and devote himself to art, which he kept in a gallery in his riotously overdecorated five-story home at Madison Avenue and Sixty-eighth Street designed by Richard Morris Hunt. It featured a three-story interior courtyard with a skylight roof, a j.a.panese room with embroidered silk walls, a Moorish smoking room, an English Renaissance dining room hung with sixteenth-century Flemish tapestries, a marble-floored hall with an oak staircase, a bronze fountain, mosaic walls and windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and a stone fireplace topped with a copy of a terra-cotta altarpiece he gave to the museum in 1882.56 He gave the museum not only art and his time but also large amounts of money. He gave the museum not only art and his time but also large amounts of money.



Although Nathaniel Burt describes him as "sensitive, withdrawn and sternly melancholic," Marquand bought art "like an Italian prince of the Renaissance," the critic Russell Sturgis wrote in a posthumous auction catalog of his collection. The Times Times of London called Marquand "the Providence of the museum" thanks to his gifts of paintings, ceramics, ancient gla.s.s, medieval ironwork, and, in 1886, the funds to add to its sculptural and architectural cast collection, to quickly establish a time line of three-dimensional artworks in the fledgling museum. of London called Marquand "the Providence of the museum" thanks to his gifts of paintings, ceramics, ancient gla.s.s, medieval ironwork, and, in 1886, the funds to add to its sculptural and architectural cast collection, to quickly establish a time line of three-dimensional artworks in the fledgling museum.57 John Taylor Johnston would die in his own bed at home in 1893 after sixteen years of progressive infirmity, leaving a fortune of $1.5 million. He gave another $10,000 to the museum, and a quarter of his remaining estate to each of four children, including Emily Johnston de Forest, whose husband was named an executor. Robert de Forest came from an accomplished family whose New World lineage dated back to pre-Revolution Connecticut, where they were "substantial citizens, office bearers ... minor officials ... soldiers in the Revolution."58 "Blue blood and a big bank account gave de Forest a comfortable head start in life," wrote James A. Hijiya in a lengthy study of his career as a philanthropist. "Blue blood and a big bank account gave de Forest a comfortable head start in life," wrote James A. Hijiya in a lengthy study of his career as a philanthropist.59 He was a student at Yale in 1870 when he proposed marriage to John Taylor Johnston's daughter on the same day, or so he would later claim, that the museum was founded. "I married her as soon as I could," he said, shortly after earning a law degree from Columbia. He was a student at Yale in 1870 when he proposed marriage to John Taylor Johnston's daughter on the same day, or so he would later claim, that the museum was founded. "I married her as soon as I could," he said, shortly after earning a law degree from Columbia.60 De Forest inherited his father-in-law's Metropolitan board seat and was named the board's secretary at the same trustees' meeting where Marquand was anointed. Also that night, a special committee deciding how to light the museum at night indicated that it might prefer the new Edison electric system to gaslight. A new day really was dawning.



It just wasn't dawning on Sundays. Marquand was no more interested in forcing the issue as president than he had been as treasurer. At the museum's annual meeting that February, the topic didn't even come up. That spring, when the appropriation for the north wing reached the legislature in Albany, an attempt to link it to Sunday openings failed. When that Baltimore collector's offer of money for Sundays was finally revealed that spring, Charles Dana, the editor and part owner of the New York Sun New York Sun, tripled it, offering $30,000 to the museum if it would only open on Sundays. His offer, too, was spurned.



A year later, electric lights at last installed, the museum opened two nights a week, but when attendance proved spa.r.s.e, the newspapers took up the Sunday cry again. This time they were joined by a group of women led by Minna Chapman, the wife of a lawyer and anti-Tammany political reformer whose father headed the New York Stock Exchange. Chapman's husband was also descended from John Jay. In a mere five days, she gathered five thousand names on a Sunday-opening pet.i.tion, and in the resulting public uproar yet another pet.i.tion attracted an additional thirty thousand signatures, including Andrew Carnegie, Jacob Schiff, August Belmont, Theodore Roosevelt, William K. Vanderbilt, J. Pierpont Morgan, who'd previously been opposed, Elihu Root, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Louis Tiffany, and pledges of $10,000 from Henry O. Havemeyer and $1,000 from another collector, Benjamin Altman, to pay for it.



On May 18, 1889, at the end of a three-hour meeting of eighteen trustees, Choate made a motion for Sunday openings. Choate and Rutherford Stuyvesant were among the twelve ayes, Hiram Hitchc.o.c.k among the four nays. The ayes prevailed, and the next day a headline in the New York World New York World said it all: "The People Triumph." Within days, Vice President Prime resigned, and one wealthy widow revoked a promised $50,000 bequest. About 340 of the museum's 1,900 members stopped paying their dues, and 115 of them quit. Nonetheless, a year later the American Museum of Natural History opened on Sundays as well. said it all: "The People Triumph." Within days, Vice President Prime resigned, and one wealthy widow revoked a promised $50,000 bequest. About 340 of the museum's 1,900 members stopped paying their dues, and 115 of them quit. Nonetheless, a year later the American Museum of Natural History opened on Sundays as well.



A few weeks after the fateful vote, more than twelve thousand visitors crowded the first Sunday at the Met. They found the gallery with the Curium treasures closed, many paintings hurriedly covered with gla.s.s, eighteen guards on duty instead of the customary eleven, and the director nowhere to be found-Cesnola had battened down the hatches and left the premises. But the biggest problem turned out to be an absence of spittoons.



"Many visitors took the liberty of handling every object within reach; some went to the length of marring, scratching, and breaking articles unprotected by gla.s.s; a few proved to be pickpockets, and others brought with them peculiar habits which were repulsive and unclean," said the next annual report.61



LUIGI DI C CESNOLA AND H HENRY M MARQUAND SAW EYE TO EYE ON most things, and Cesnola worked hard to keep it that way. Despite all the controversies, the building kept growing; the north wing opened in November 1894, increasing exhibition s.p.a.ce by about a third to 103,000 square feet. So, too, the collections, which now, thanks in part to the lifting of what Marquand called a disgraceful, "odious and invidious tax on art," included musical instruments, gems, fans, Eastern art and porcelains, embroideries, and a.s.syrian, Babylonian, and Egyptian antiquities. And attendance was rising; more than half a million visitors came in 1894, almost a third of them on Sundays. most things, and Cesnola worked hard to keep it that way. Despite all the controversies, the building kept growing; the north wing opened in November 1894, increasing exhibition s.p.a.ce by about a third to 103,000 square feet. So, too, the collections, which now, thanks in part to the lifting of what Marquand called a disgraceful, "odious and invidious tax on art," included musical instruments, gems, fans, Eastern art and porcelains, embroideries, and a.s.syrian, Babylonian, and Egyptian antiquities. And attendance was rising; more than half a million visitors came in 1894, almost a third of them on Sundays.



At the annual meeting in 1895, the trustees celebrated the museum's twenty-fifth year, but behind the scenes the board had grown restive. The day of that meeting, seven trustees presented a pet.i.tion demanding Cesnola's removal. A special meeting of the trustees followed. Only Hitchc.o.c.k and one other defended Cesnola. De Forest ran the prosecution, which, Hitchc.o.c.k remembered, said Cesnola was "not the man for the place, hindered progress, prevented gifts, was deceptive, brusque, insulting, domineering, unjust to subordinates, not a good manager, not in touch with art here and in Europe, does not fairly represent us, is a martinet, owns the Museum, controlled Mr. Johnston and now controls Mr. Marquand."62 With the backing of Cornelius Vanderbilt and J. Pierpont Morgan, who'd joined the board in 1888, Marquand took a stand, threatening to quit if Cesnola was fired; he beat back the revolt by a vote of 11 to 7. Choate accused Marquand of bulldozing the board, and another trustee came away sure that de Forest had really hoped to overthrow Marquand, not Cesnola. Inevitably, a story leaked to the press that the director had recently gotten a $3,000 raise to $15,000 a year, and the Times Times dubbed Cesnola's tenure "a continuing scandal." dubbed Cesnola's tenure "a continuing scandal."



Out of the woodwork came his old enemies, pointing to the "obnoxious" Cesnola's "surliness of demeanor ... snappishness ... repellant ways" and the lack of artistic or archaeological credentials that had "brought the inst.i.tution into contempt and ridicule." Into the fray the old soldier galloped. "I have no fears," he told the world. His old friend Hitchc.o.c.k, remarried to a cousin and back in favor again, wrote to say, "You must now laugh laugh at anything that comes up to annoy you." at anything that comes up to annoy you."63 To an extent, Cesnola was right not to worry. He had won his last battle, and hung on. At the next board meeting that spring, Marquand ensured that the director's status was never even mentioned. Instead, the trustees changed the subject, announcing another expansion, this time a milliondollar facade to face Fifth Avenue.



There was no more talk of firing Cesnola; for the next few years, trustees' meetings were airtight, leak-free affairs; the only news they made concerned how much money the trustees were paying personally to meet the museum's expenses and how loudly they chose to gripe about it. In 1890, for instance, the trustees were forced to ante up $52,000 to cover operating expenses; the city had given only $25,000 that year (atop the $360,000 it agreed to pay for the third wing). Though the city's appropriation was subsequently increased to $70,000, the trustees announced they would leave repairs of their building up to the parks commissioners, who could either keep it in good repair "or become responsible to the people for its gradual decay."



That was neither the first nor the last time the trustees were disingenuous. The city was, at that moment, erecting the Beaux Arts wing with its Romanesque facade made of Indiana limestone that has ever since been the visual image of the Metropolitan Museum. "The public will be astonished," the Times Times predicted when given a tour of the work site in the fall of 1899 by Cesnola, who confidently predicted that the museum would eventually fill its thirteen-acre site. predicted when given a tour of the work site in the fall of 1899 by Cesnola, who confidently predicted that the museum would eventually fill its thirteen-acre site.



Cesnola would hold on for another five years, and the museum would keep its promise to employ him until the day he died. Flailing against the past, he defended his finds again and again and kept trying to have his t.i.tle made official; he came away at last with a congressional medal for gallantry thirty-four years before. He continued to call himself general.



All that remained was waiting. Hitchc.o.c.k died in 1900. Marquand followed in 1902, as did Cesnola's wife, Mary. Finally, in November 1904, Cesnola went to bed one night and never got up again.



He would have liked the headline in the Boston Globe Boston Globe announcing his death. "Gen di Cesnola Dead-Breveted Brigadier General by Lincoln," it read. The announcing his death. "Gen di Cesnola Dead-Breveted Brigadier General by Lincoln," it read. The Times Times, the Wall Street Journal Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post Washington Post let him keep his military t.i.tle as well. J. P. Morgan, who'd replaced Rhinelander as the museum president, was one of his pallbearers. A few days after his funeral, the trustees issued a memorial resolution. It acknowledged that he was martial, restive, and "somewhat impetuous in speech and action." let him keep his military t.i.tle as well. J. P. Morgan, who'd replaced Rhinelander as the museum president, was one of his pallbearers. A few days after his funeral, the trustees issued a memorial resolution. It acknowledged that he was martial, restive, and "somewhat impetuous in speech and action."64 His career-defining finds in Cyprus went unmentioned. His career-defining finds in Cyprus went unmentioned.



Today, Cesnola is remembered, if at all, as a cultural criminal who looted and pillaged and stole not just objects but an irreplaceable opportunity to learn about the past. On Cyprus, he is considered a rapist who thought his victims lesser beings who didn't appreciate their own culture and so had no right to keep its artifacts close to home. Instead, their historic bounty had to be carried off and cared for by people with the taste, education, and breeding to protect and understand it. People like n.o.bile Luigi Palma di Cesnola and the trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.



* A year later, Choate would join the Committee of Seventy, which broke up the Tweed Ring, and give an indignant speech condemning Tammany and its boss. Shortly afterward, in October 1871, Tweed was arrested. Two years later, he would be convicted on more than two hundred counts of fraud and larceny and then, after an escape that lasted almost a year, die in prison in 1878. A year later, Choate would join the Committee of Seventy, which broke up the Tweed Ring, and give an indignant speech condemning Tammany and its boss. Shortly afterward, in October 1871, Tweed was arrested. Two years later, he would be convicted on more than two hundred counts of fraud and larceny and then, after an escape that lasted almost a year, die in prison in 1878.



Early in April 1890, Junius Spencer Morgan, seventy-six, the semiretired head of J. S. Morgan & Co., an international investment bank, left his rented villa on a hillside above Monte Carlo in an elegant four-wheeled open carriage. He was en route to nearby Beaulieu-sur-Mer when a train startled his horses, which shied and broke into a run. Morgan stood up to ask his coachman, perched on a raised seat in front of him, what was going on. Just then, the victoria hit a pile of stones, throwing Morgan to the ground. Knocked out, he lingered for three days before dying without regaining consciousness. His son Pierpont, fifty-two, who was sailing across the Atlantic to meet his father before going on to Aix-les-Bains, where he would treat his gout in the town's famous hot sulfur springs-he'd suffered myriad ailments of mind and body since his youth-got the tragic news the day his father died, when his steamship, the White Star Line's Teutonic Teutonic, reached the Irish port of Queenstown.



Twelve days later, his father's embalmed remains were on their way back to his home of Hartford, Connecticut, when Pierpont formally took over the family firm and his father's position at the pinnacle of American finance. Already a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum, the shrewd, brusque, and confident Morgan was about to emerge as the dominant capitalist of the Gilded Age, reshaping America's economy by guiding the creation of such industrial giants as General Electric, International Harvester, and United States Steel and forcing New York's most important bankers to work together to avert economic collapse in the wake of the Panic of 1907.



Just as important, for the Metropolitan at least, Morgan, the ruthless quintessential American capitalist, was about to launch a second career as the greatest art collector of his, and arguably any, time. He was certainly well prepared for the role. Scion of a family that had farmed the Connecticut River valley since Colonial times, and son of a dry-goods merchant turned international banker, Pierpont Morgan went on his first grand tour of Europe in 1853, at sixteen, visiting Dover, Calais, Brussels, Cologne, Berlin, Leipzig, Koblenz, Ka.s.sel, Frankfurt, Baden-Baden, Strasbourg, and Paris before returning to the Duke of Devonshire's house Chatsworth, in Derbyshire, England, where he saw the duke's private library, which was said to be the greatest in the world.1 After finishing his studies, Morgan toured Europe again, visiting Paris, Lyon, Ma.r.s.eille, Hyeres, Toulon, Rome, Naples, and Florence. Though he'd collected the autographs of Episcopal bishops as a boy, like John Taylor Johnston before him, he made his first purchases of art in Italy, and continued buying here and there, but according to the future Met director Francis Henry Taylor, who would write a posthumous tribute to Morgan as a collector, he didn't pursue art pa.s.sionately at first, feeling that serious collecting was his father's prerogative. Neither lacked the funds to indulge. Junius was left $1 million when his father died and would leave a far greater sum-$3 million outright and another $7.5 million in capital he'd invested in his firm, as well as real property worth millions more (totaling more than $320 million in 2007 dollars)-to Pierpont on his his death. death.



Pierpont was not uninvolved with American high culture. He'd been a founder of the American Museum of Natural History and one of the first subscribers to the Met, and in 1877 was named a patron for his contribution to the fund that bought Cesnola's antiquities.2 In 1888, Cesnola tried to get him to quit the American Museum of Natural History's board and join the Met's instead, arguing that his tastes were more geared toward art and that the art museum was "progressing at the rate of a thousand and one compared with the other Museum." When Morgan refused out of loyalty ("I have been connected to that inst.i.tution from the beginning," he wrote In 1888, Cesnola tried to get him to quit the American Museum of Natural History's board and join the Met's instead, arguing that his tastes were more geared toward art and that the art museum was "progressing at the rate of a thousand and one compared with the other Museum." When Morgan refused out of loyalty ("I have been connected to that inst.i.tution from the beginning," he wrote3), the Met named him a trustee anyway.4 Morgan, coincidentally, had lately been having an affair with Adelaide Townsend Douglas, whose husband's family had leased the Met its second home on Fourteenth Street. A pious, long-married Episcopalian, he had a taste for other women. Morgan, coincidentally, had lately been having an affair with Adelaide Townsend Douglas, whose husband's family had leased the Met its second home on Fourteenth Street. A pious, long-married Episcopalian, he had a taste for other women.



Morgan was a huge man with white hair, a thick black mustache, wide shoulders, gray eyes like lasers, and a grotesque purple nose caused by a skin disease. He was as intimidating to art dealers as he was to financial supplicants. "I felt dwarfed," Germain Seligman, son of the Parisian dealer Jacques Seligmann, recalled of meeting Morgan. "It was not only his actual height and bulk, but his piercing, flashing eyes, his strong, set face, and, above all, his tremendous, radiating vitality."5 Morgan stood out, even among the new cla.s.s of industrially fortunate collectors, oversized personalities like William Henry Vanderbilt and Henry Frick, all of whom began to bid against one another for the spoils of European civilization in a pa.s.sionate quest to demonstrate not just America's wealth but also its increasing cultivation. "Rich Americans spent more money on art during the thirty years from 1880 to 1910 than had ever been spent by a similar group in the world's history," the curator Albert Ten Eyck Gardner observed. Morgan stood out, even among the new cla.s.s of industrially fortunate collectors, oversized personalities like William Henry Vanderbilt and Henry Frick, all of whom began to bid against one another for the spoils of European civilization in a pa.s.sionate quest to demonstrate not just America's wealth but also its increasing cultivation. "Rich Americans spent more money on art during the thirty years from 1880 to 1910 than had ever been spent by a similar group in the world's history," the curator Albert Ten Eyck Gardner observed.6 The fortunes of old Europe fell into steep decline just as America emerged from depression in the 1880s and began making unprecedented sums of money in new industries, railroads, banking, and trade, the era's equivalent of this century's Internet gold rush. Just as America began flexing its wallets, the great estates that had sustained Europe's old n.o.bility were finally coming to the end of their economic utility, as were many of the aristocrats themselves. Across Europe, families that had rarely sold or auctioned their heirlooms were forced to as great fortunes vaporized. It was that or lose their lands. So treasures unseen outside private homes in centuries like Lord Lansdowne's Portrait of a Man Portrait of a Man, the first Rembrandt van Rijn in America, were coming to market to be snapped up by the newly empowered American n.o.bility.



"Collecting gave a feeling of power and exclusive possession," wrote William G. Constable in his history of American collecting, "contemplation of their acquisitions provided a refuge from the cut-throat compet.i.tion and remorseless pressures of business life."7 Their collections were also a pathway to social acceptance for men of sometimes humble origin and allowed America's new rich to a.s.sociate themselves and American wealth with the past greatness of Europe. "For the rich and for the powerful one of the things that society in a sense expects them to do is to collect," Philippe de Montebello once said. "It is a way in which the rich can show that they are cultivated as well as wealthy."



The Metropolitan was begun by men who collected then-contemporary art. Like John Taylor Johnston, they began by buying French "Salon," or conservative academic history, paintings and then, urged on by artist-advisers like William Morris Hunt, an American painter who was a brother of the Metropolitan trustee and architect Richard Morris Hunt, moved into collecting what was then modern art: naturalist Barbizon painters like Theodore Rousseau, Millet, Courbet, Corot, and Romantic paintings by Delacroix. But as the nineteenth century ended, mega-wealthy members of the American industrial elite weren't ready to buy from contemporary artists.



Americans like Morgan, Frederick Lewis Allen wrote in The Great Pierpont Morgan The Great Pierpont Morgan, sought out well-established art to feed their "romantic reverence for the archaic, the traditional, the remote, for things whose beauty took them far away from prosaic, industrial America." High-end dealers appeared on the New York scene, eager to take their cut of this unprecedented transfer of art from one continent to another.



The first important art dealers in New York were Europeans who began opening galleries even before the Civil War. Knoedler & Co. opened in lower Manhattan in 1846, selling prints and art supplies. The pace picked up after the war. The Duveen family, which started out dealing antiques in Holland early in the nineteenth century and then expanded to London, sent one of its younger members, Henry Duveen, to America in 1876 to seek out wealthy clients. Within a year, he had opened a salesroom, too, although it was another ten years before he hooked his first whale, a retailer named Benjamin Altman.8 Gimpel & Wildenstein of Paris soon followed. New York had enough millionaires in need of guidance to keep them-and a trailing pack of scholars and experts, all eager to advise, to vouch for works of art, and to profit-busy. And best yet, this new clientele proved willing to move beyond what was fashionable and take up more adventurous pursuits. Gimpel & Wildenstein of Paris soon followed. New York had enough millionaires in need of guidance to keep them-and a trailing pack of scholars and experts, all eager to advise, to vouch for works of art, and to profit-busy. And best yet, this new clientele proved willing to move beyond what was fashionable and take up more adventurous pursuits.



For Henry Marquand, that meant buying up old masters, which had previously scared Americans, who were afraid of fakes. Altman, a reclusive bachelor, also formed a collection of old masters, and bought Chinese porcelain, gold, crystals, tapestries, carpets, and sculpture through dealers like Duveen and Seligmann.9 The Duveens were so swamped with fine home furnishings and bibelots they began what amounted to a side business in interior decoration, becoming one-stop instant-aristocracy shops. The Duveens were so swamped with fine home furnishings and bibelots they began what amounted to a side business in interior decoration, becoming one-stop instant-aristocracy shops.10 In 1886, the next great movement in French art, Impressionism, came to America when Paul Durand-Ruel showed three hundred of these fashionable new paintings in New York, and the following year set up shop there. A few adventurous American collectors had begun buying the Impressionists. First among them was Louisine Waldron Elder. A sugar heiress, just twenty years old, she was advised by a family friend, an artist in Paris named Mary Ca.s.satt, who like Louisine was a wealthy, unmarried American. On Ca.s.satt's advice, Louisine bought her very first picture, a Degas pastel, in 1876.11 Her next purchase was a Monet, and the dealer Eugene V. Thaw has speculated that each was the first painting by those artists to come to America. Louisine's collecting would take on a new dimension when she became the second wife of Henry Osborne Havemeyer, better known as Harry, the head of the Sugar Trust, a monopoly he'd formed by combining fifteen refineries. Her next purchase was a Monet, and the dealer Eugene V. Thaw has speculated that each was the first painting by those artists to come to America. Louisine's collecting would take on a new dimension when she became the second wife of Henry Osborne Havemeyer, better known as Harry, the head of the Sugar Trust, a monopoly he'd formed by combining fifteen refineries.



The first Havemeyer had come to America from Germany in 1798 as a baker and seven years later opened a sugar refinery that would eventually become Domino Sugar. Harry had been the center of a scandal when he left his wife for her niece, and he and Louisine shunned society, their grandson J. Watson Webb has said, so it could not shun them.12 At first, they focused on building a family, and then, after the birth of their child in 1889, they focused increasingly on their art collection. Brought up with wealth (he inherited millions when his father died in 1891) but with no more than a high school education, Harry Havemeyer was initially impulsive and promiscuous in his purchases of art. He began collecting at the Philadelphia centennial in 1876, buying large quant.i.ties of j.a.panese lacquer boxes, textiles, sword guards, and ivory, then moved on to auctions, where his compet.i.tive business instincts served him well. He bought art in bulk, just as he did sugar. At first, they focused on building a family, and then, after the birth of their child in 1889, they focused increasingly on their art collection. Brought up with wealth (he inherited millions when his father died in 1891) but with no more than a high school education, Harry Havemeyer was initially impulsive and promiscuous in his purchases of art. He began collecting at the Philadelphia centennial in 1876, buying large quant.i.ties of j.a.panese lacquer boxes, textiles, sword guards, and ivory, then moved on to auctions, where his compet.i.tive business instincts served him well. He bought art in bulk, just as he did sugar.



His tastes evolved, moving from volume to quality and from objects to paintings after he married Louisine, who'd led a privileged childhood in Philadelphia and Europe, before her first $100 purchase from the unknown and financially strapped Degas, who, legend has it, was about to quit painting when she came along.



While his wife continued buying what was then modern art, Havemeyer began collecting old masters and American paintings. He'd already given the Metropolitan a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington when he bought two Rembrandts and a Delacroix in 1888 and loaned them with a promise to ultimately give them to the museum as well.13 Havemeyer eventually bought eight paintings attributed to Rembrandt and gave them their own room in his Fifth Avenue mansion, which had over-the-top exotic, international interior decor by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Rembrandts were hung on the pale olive walls of Harry's study, the rest in a two-story gallery reached by a spectacular gilded-metal "flying" staircase suspended from a curved piece of cast iron. As the Havemeyers' purchases increased in tempo and quality, they built a second gallery in their backyard. Havemeyer eventually bought eight paintings attributed to Rembrandt and gave them their own room in his Fifth Avenue mansion, which had over-the-top exotic, international interior decor by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Rembrandts were hung on the pale olive walls of Harry's study, the rest in a two-story gallery reached by a spectacular gilded-metal "flying" staircase suspended from a curved piece of cast iron. As the Havemeyers' purchases increased in tempo and quality, they built a second gallery in their backyard.14 Slowly but steadily, Louisine and her friend Ca.s.satt changed Harry's taste, moving him from fashionable Salon and Barbizon paintings to the Dutch masters, and then on to Courbet (whose work Louisine had first encountered in 1881) and Manet. Louisine called Ca.s.satt "the fairy G.o.dmother" of the collection.15 In her history of art collecting, Aline Saarinen tells the story of a Courbet nude Louisine fell in love with that Harry quietly bought for her, despite their prior agreement that with young children in their home nudes should be forbidden. But there were still limits. A later acquisition, a Courbet nude called In her history of art collecting, Aline Saarinen tells the story of a Courbet nude Louisine fell in love with that Harry quietly bought for her, despite their prior agreement that with young children in their home nudes should be forbidden. But there were still limits. A later acquisition, a Courbet nude called Woman with a Parrot Woman with a Parrot, was considered so risque it was first kept in a closet and then loaned to the Metropolitan.



In 1901, the Havemeyers went to Italy, where they bought more than two dozen works from an impoverished German, most of which proved to be fakes. They had more luck in Spain, where they discovered El Greco and Goya. Searching Toledo for a painting billed as El Greco's greatest work, they got lost. "Why don't they hang pictures where people can find them?" Harry complained. When Louisine finally asked directions and found it, Harry decided it was perhaps the greatest picture he had ever seen, and they began buying as many El Grecos and Goyas as they could find.16 Alas, eleven of their fifteen Goyas would eventually be reattributed, and they never bought a verifiable Velazquez. But several of their El Grecos and Bronzino's Alas, eleven of their fifteen Goyas would eventually be reattributed, and they never bought a verifiable Velazquez. But several of their El Grecos and Bronzino's Portrait of a Young Man Portrait of a Young Man are still considered masterpieces, nicely balancing their judgment and taste against their occasional, and all-too-typical, mistakes. are still considered masterpieces, nicely balancing their judgment and taste against their occasional, and all-too-typical, mistakes.



In 1908, Louisine decided to buy the museum a Goya and to leave it many of her pictures, but Mary Ca.s.satt advised against it, writing that "until the Directors of the Metropolitan show more judgment and taste it is better not to give."17 Ca.s.satt's ill opinion may have been formed a few years earlier, when Luigi di Cesnola agreed to exhibit Saturnalia Saturnalia, a huge group of bronze figures representing a Roman orgy by a modern Italian sculptor, Ernes...o...b..ondi. Set up in the new Great Hall just before it opened, it was soon removed after it offended several trustees (de Forest called it "revolting"). Reporters, too, condemned it as "uncommonly offensive ... and so disgusting in subject that one stands appalled at the abyss to which modern Italian sculpture has sunk," as the New York Times New York Times put it. put it.



Biondi sued to force the Met to put it on display and vented his wrath at American artists, calling them "canvas daubers, home builders ... all of them business men and nothing but business men" and their works "ice-cold, affected, clumsy, dead-they smell business thousands of miles away." In its defense, the Met blamed Cesnola and said he'd had no right to make a deal with Biondi. Biondi lost, but the museum was ordered to pay to ship Saturnalia Saturnalia back to Italy. The affair caused a minor international incident, since the trustee Elihu Root, then serving as secretary of state, represented the museum in court-causing the Italian amba.s.sador to the United States to resign. The sculpture ended up in the Botanical Garden in Buenos Aires. back to Italy. The affair caused a minor international incident, since the trustee Elihu Root, then serving as secretary of state, represented the museum in court-causing the Italian amba.s.sador to the United States to resign. The sculpture ended up in the Botanical Garden in Buenos Aires.



AS H HAVEMEYER AND THE M MORGANS, VANDERBILTS, AND A ASTORS became the Met's chief benefactors, buying and loaning and giving it more pictures and objects, the museum's importance increased geometrically, confirming their wisdom in buying and loaning and giving even more. As early as 1888, the museum collection was valued at $2.25 million. became the Met's chief benefactors, buying and loaning and giving it more pictures and objects, the museum's importance increased geometrically, confirming their wisdom in buying and loaning and giving even more. As early as 1888, the museum collection was valued at $2.25 million.



Though they are often lumped together in both art and financial histories, the industrialists and robber barons of the late nineteenth century were hardly a tight group of friends. And now that the museum was growing into a force all its own, its roof sometimes covered bitter enmity. Havemeyer and Marquand were thought to be developing good taste. When J. P. Morgan dove into the art market after the death of his father, he was often compared unfavorably to them: as voracious instead of perspicacious, with a preference for objects (books, ma.n.u.scripts, portrait miniatures, porcelains, candlesticks, armchairs) over paintings. The director of one Berlin museum thought him "arrogant, brash and indiscreet."18 And like many arrogant men, he could be fooled. In 1909, he sent a box of gems to the Met to be evaluated. A curator wrote back that few were antique and even those were inferior examples, "of a kind which one picks up every day in the shops of the Piazza di Spagna or the Ponte Vecchio," though he added, "I never saw so many of them together before." And like many arrogant men, he could be fooled. In 1909, he sent a box of gems to the Met to be evaluated. A curator wrote back that few were antique and even those were inferior examples, "of a kind which one picks up every day in the shops of the Piazza di Spagna or the Ponte Vecchio," though he added, "I never saw so many of them together before."19 Yet he was also capable of buying a masterpiece without blinking, indeed with a sure inner compa.s.s. In 1901, he bought an early Raphael altarpiece, the Colonna Madonna Colonna Madonna, painted in 1505 for the nuns of the Convent of Sant'Antonio da Padova at Perugia, who sold it in 1678. In 1802 it pa.s.sed to the king of Naples and the Two Sicilies, whose descendant Francis II sold it to a Paris dealer for $200,000. Morgan bought it for $386,473.20 Soon enough, a Hals, Hogarths, and Fragonards would come to him as if by divine right. At the end of each year, his partners would wait in fear to hear what he'd spent on art. Soon enough, a Hals, Hogarths, and Fragonards would come to him as if by divine right. At the end of each year, his partners would wait in fear to hear what he'd spent on art.



Morgan learned to play tough. In 1899, Joseph Duveen asked his father to let him try to sell a collection of miniature portraits in bulk to Morgan, though only six out of thirty had significant value. Morgan calmly looked them over, asked the price, divided by thirty, and then put just the six in his pocket, telling young Duveen that he'd take them, at the prorated price of course.21 Havemeyer was opinionated, driven, c.o.c.ky, and tough, too, and that had made him some powerful enemies. In 1882, when one of his sugar refineries burned down, Morgan pledged to loan him $1 million on payment of a $60,000 fee, then kept the fee when the loan proved unnecessary. Havemeyer never forgave him. Morgan didn't care much for Harry either. Most likely that was because some of Havemeyer's outlandish comments ("I don't care two cents for ethics," he once said) stirred up already-simmering public resentment against the sorts of trusts, monopolies, and industrial behemoths that were Morgan's specialty, too.



Morgan, who was named to the Metropolitan's executive committee in 1892, wasn't Harry's only problem. Havemeyer was battling with trustbusters and garnered unwanted attention between 1888 and 1891, when it was first suggested that he join the museum's board. He was "a hard man to get along with!" Henry Marquand warned Cesnola. "I fear he won't do."22 Havemeyer kept buying art. But no matter how much of it he gave or loaned (as in 1903, with Manet's Dead Christ with Angels) Dead Christ with Angels) or offered (in 1904 Harry financed Durand-Ruel's purchase of El Greco's or offered (in 1904 Harry financed Durand-Ruel's purchase of El Greco's a.s.sumption of the Virgin a.s.sumption of the Virgin so the Met could buy it at a good price, but Cesnola turned him down, and the painting ended up at the Art Inst.i.tute of Chicago), Havemeyer would never make it onto the board. so the Met could buy it at a good price, but Cesnola turned him down, and the painting ended up at the Art Inst.i.tute of Chicago), Havemeyer would never make it onto the board.23 In 1907, just after American Sugar was sued for $30 million in an ant.i.trust action, Havemeyer finally died as he lived, in abundant luxury, of heart failure following a weeklong attack of indigestion brought on by a hearty Thanksgiving dinner. He left his wife and children an estate valued at $60 million. At the memorial service held three days later in the art gallery of his city mansion, Choate and Morgan headed a delegation from the museum. Havemeyer's immediate family chose to stay in their rooms throughout the service.



IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES FOR THE M METROPOLITAN. WITH THE museum open on Sundays, the trustees no longer fought with the city over money. In 1893, the annual maintenance subsidy rose from $70,000 to $95,000, and two years later the city appropriated $1 million to build Hunt's eastern wing and its centerpiece, the Great Hall. In 1899, the museum would show an operating surplus of more than $5,000. Donated art and money were flowing in, allowing the museum to enrich its exhibits and, despite Cesnola's continuing stranglehold, begin to strengthen its staff, hiring its first two curators. No donation was more important than the entirely unexpected one the museum learned about in 1901 and finally received almost three years later. museum open on Sundays, the trustees no longer fought with the city over money. In 1893, the annual maintenance subsidy rose from $70,000 to $95,000, and two years later the city appropriated $1 million to build Hunt's eastern wing and its centerpiece, the Great Hall. In 1899, the museum would show an operating surplus of more than $5,000. Donated art and money were flowing in, allowing the museum to enrich its exhibits and, despite Cesnola's continuing stranglehold, begin to strengthen its staff, hiring its first two curators. No donation was more important than the entirely unexpected one the museum learned about in 1901 and finally received almost three years later.



Jacob Rogers was a true eccentric whose neighbors in Paterson, New Jersey, thought he was the richest man in the state, but weren't sure; all they knew for certain was that his wealth came from building locomotives, that he kept collies and a herd of live deer as well as a stuffed one on his veranda and stuffed swans on his lawn; he had a dairy farm where he produced and sold b.u.t.ter; he refused to allow his biography to be published, and was so afraid of fresh air he stuffed paper around his windows and doors and in the walls wherever he slept.24 People said he had $7 million; he said he wished they would show it to him as he'd never seen it. They also said he hated women. The last claim proved untrue. The $7 million figure wasn't far off. People said he had $7 million; he said he wished they would show it to him as he'd never seen it. They also said he hated women. The last claim proved untrue. The $7 million figure wasn't far off.



Rogers's locomotives were the best there were, and Rogers himself was the opposite, a miserable, reclusive, miserly, aggressively uncharitable, antisocial misanthrope. "Why should I give people money who never have given me any?" he once barked. "He never showed any public spirit, and would recognize no motive that was not based on dollars and cents," said the Paterson Guardian Paterson Guardian on his death. "He would step out of his way to avoid treading on a worm, but would crush an unfortunate business rival without compunction ... He always lived up to his own motto: 'Never do or give anything for nothing.' " on his death. "He would step out of his way to avoid treading on a worm, but would crush an unfortunate business rival without compunction ... He always lived up to his own motto: 'Never do or give anything for nothing.' "25 It was said he'd been embittered by a youthful love affair gone wrong; ever after, he never allowed women near his house, and wouldn't employ them either, even as servants. He had a Swiss majordomo "whose chief duty seemed to be to be rude to persons who, for any reason, had occasion to call," said the Washington Post. Washington Post.26 He hated his hometown for stopping him from buying land near his factory and never let the city forget it. In the Panic of 1873, he simply shut his factory down and went off to party in Paris and laze on the Riviera, where he was said to have had a love affair and a daughter, later awarded to its mother by French courts. Ultimately, it was thought that he may have had love affairs with three "certain women" mentioned but left unnamed in his will; he posthumously canceled any debts they owed him. He hated his hometown for stopping him from buying land near his factory and never let the city forget it. In the Panic of 1873, he simply shut his factory down and went off to party in Paris and laze on the Riviera, where he was said to have had a love affair and a daughter, later awarded to its mother by French courts. Ultimately, it was thought that he may have had love affairs with three "certain women" mentioned but left unnamed in his will; he posthumously canceled any debts they owed him.



In the last year of his life, Rogers tried to shut down his company despite the best efforts of his fifteen hundred workers and Paterson officials to keep the city's oldest and largest industry alive. In early 1901, the works were declared insolvent and were sold; when a lawsuit was brought that June attempting to overturn the sale, Rogers filed an affidavit disclaiming responsibility due to deafness and enfeeblement. He died a week later during a vicious heat wave that killed hundreds in the New York area. His undressed body was found sitting on the floor of a room at the Union League Club, his legal residence, his head resting against the bed. "Jacob S. Rogers died as he had lived-alone," said the Washington Post Washington Post. "If his often expressed wishes are followed, there will be no funeral ceremony. Having few intimate friends and fewer relatives, he felt that any show of grief because of his death would be hypocritical, and he despised hypocrisy."27 But it turned out that there were relatives and they were angry, not grieving, when it emerged that he'd disinherited a half sister and left nine nieces and nephews a pittance-a total of $175,000-and the rest, more than $5.5 million, to the Metropolitan. They found that out at the reading of his will in a dingy parlor next to the room where his body lay at his home in Paterson. The heirs "looked at each other in astonishment," said the Boston Globe Boston Globe, and sat in dead silence, "which continued for some time," according to the Chicago Tribune Chicago Tribune, and then "left the house indignant," said the Times Times. Rogers's executor predicted that the relatives would contest the will. "There is no doubt that an attempt will be made to prove that Mr. Rogers was insane," said the Times Times. A $20,000 dinner he'd hosted in Paris on his last trip there ($503,000 in 2007 dollars) would be exhibit No. 1.



But more than whether he was insane (for it was generally a.s.sumed that he was at least a little tetched), what everyone wanted to know was, why the museum? Rogers owned no art except a few miniatures and, as far as anyone knew, had no interest in it. Luigi di Cesnola had no answers either, although Rogers had been a $10-a-year member of the museum since 1883 and popped into Cesnola's office every so often, paying his dues in person and peppering the director with questions, not about the art, but about the trustees and the business of the museum. Cesnola claimed he had no idea who Rogers was and considered him something of a pest. "Had I known even that he was a rich man I might have treated him more diplomatically than I did," he said. "I never had an inkling of his vast wealth." Cesnola also didn't know if Rogers ever visited the galleries, and recalled that during a chat about why the trustees felt they couldn't afford to open the museum on Sundays, he'd hinted he might leave the museum some money. "I figured we might receive something like $2,000 and dismissed the matter from my mind," Cesnola told the New York Herald New York Herald.



So the Rogers bequest came as quite a shock. It "astonished us," the mining mogul William Dodge wrote to Marquand. "It seems like a golden dream."28 All previous gifts to the museum had taken the form of conditional or special funds, so its endowment to date was a meager $700,000. The British Museum, by comparison, had $22 million, Cesnola said, and spent about $300,000 a year on acquisitions compared with $4,000 a year spent by the Met. And the trustees were still reaching into their own pockets to pay for operating costs, kicking in $44,000 that year. The Rogers bequest would throw off about $250,000 in annual income and allow the Met to compete with older, richer European museums. If the museum won the will contest, Cesnola concluded, "there will be no more stinting." With trustee-attorneys like de Forest, Choate, and Elihu Root, then America's secretary of war, on board, Cesnola had reason for optimism. All previous gifts to the museum had taken the form of conditional or special funds, so its endowment to date was a meager $700,000. The British Museum, by comparison, had $22 million, Cesnola said, and spent about $300,000 a year on acquisitions compared with $4,000 a year spent by the Met. And the trustees were still reaching into their own pockets to pay for operating costs, kicking in $44,000 that year. The Rogers bequest would throw off about $250,000 in annual income and allow the Met to compete with older, richer European museums. If the museum won the will contest, Cesnola concluded, "there will be no more stinting." With trustee-attorneys like de Forest, Choate, and Elihu Root, then America's secretary of war, on board, Cesnola had reason for optimism.



Ten days after Rogers's death, one of his lawyers revealed that Rogers had been inspired by Andrew Carnegie's gift that same year of $5.2 million to build branch libraries all over the city, and wanted to do something of equal import for "the educational plant" of greater New York. That same day, his disinherited half sister challenged his will-beginning a legal farce that would last almost three years. The relatives named in the will eventually settled for an additional $250,000 and withdrew their objections, though some of them did ask for jobs at the museum. New York, New Jersey, and the museum tussled over whether either state could tax the windfall (New Jersey did, New York did not).



Finally, late in 1903, the museum got its inheritance. Over the next seventeen years, the money threw off about $4.25 million in income, allowing the museum to buy art without loans from trustees or subscription appeals. By 1931, the Rogers Fund had paid for purchases of Egyptian and Greek objects, armor, and such paintings as Brueghel the Elder's Harvesters Harvesters and Cranach the Elder's and Cranach the Elder's Judgment of Paris. Judgment of Paris.29 Rogers money still funds significant purchases to this day, paying a portion of the record-setting $45 million price for Duccio's Rogers money still funds significant purchases to this day, paying a portion of the record-setting $45 million price for Duccio's Madonna and Child Madonna and Child as recently as 2004. as recently as 2004.



Jacob Rogers's death wasn't the only one to change the museum's course. At the turn of the new century, nine trustees died: first Cornelius Vanderbilt, followed hard by the banker James Garland and Hiram Hitchc.o.c.k in 1900, and in 1902 Salem H. Wales, the longtime publisher and editor of Scientific American Scientific American and father-in-law of Elihu Root (who'd replaced Vanderbilt on the board), the self-made railroad investor Heber R. Bishop (who gave the museum his collection of one thousand Chinese jades and $55,000 to build a gallery for them that duplicated his ballroom), and, most significant, Henry Marquand, whose collection went to an auction at which a dealer representing J. P. Morgan was among the bidders. Marquand was replaced as president by Frederick William Rhinelander. and father-in-law of Elihu Root (who'd replaced Vanderbilt on the board), the self-made railroad investor Heber R. Bishop (who gave the museum his collection of one thousand Chinese jades and $55,000 to build a gallery for them that duplicated his ballroom), and, most significant, Henry Marquand, whose collection went to an auction at which a dealer representing J. P. Morgan was among the bidders. Marquand was replaced as president by Frederick William Rhinelander.



The Rhinelanders started their fortune with a sugar refinery and were among the earliest shipbuilders in the American colonies. By 1776, they were rich enough that an early Frederick Rhinelander was, the New York Times New York Times said in 1878, "disinclined to encourage the agitation" of the American Revolution, but hung around afterward and either bought or acquired through marriage large tracts of land all around the city, catapulting the family into the top ranks of the local Knickerbocker gentry. Two generations later, Frederick W. Rhinelander was one of about forty members of his family living off a fortune estimated to be as high as $100 million. A bald man with a bushy muttonchops mustache and piercing eyes, Rhinelander had been the museum's treasurer for years and was a member of the inner circle of trustees who actually did all the work; he appears to have had no other profession. Rhinelander's thirty-month presidency would be the last stand of the original incorporators. said in 1878, "disinclined to encourage the agitation" of the American Revolution, but hung around afterward and either bought or acquired through marriage large tracts of land all around the city, catapulting the family into the top ranks of the local Knickerbocker gentry. Two generations later, Frederick W. Rhinelander was one of about forty members of his family living off a fortune estimated to be as high as $100 million. A bald man with a bushy muttonchops mustache and piercing eyes, Rhinelander had been the museum's treasurer for years and was a member of the inner circle of trustees who actually did all the work; he appears to have had no other profession. Rhinelander's thirty-month presidency would be the last stand of the original incorporators.



IN 1898, 1898, THE FIVE BOROUGHS THAT NOW MAKE UP THE FIVE BOROUGHS THAT NOW MAKE UP N NEW Y YORK merged into the second-biggest city in





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