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Bernard Berenson, originally Valvrojenski (1865 - 1959)
Art historian, connoisseur, and collector, born in Biturmansk, Lithuania. He studied at the local synagogue before his family emigrated to Boston (1875), where he studied at Boston University (1883) and Harvard (BA 1887). Subsidized by Isabella Stewart Gardner, he studied in Paris, London, Oxford, Berlin, and Italy (1887-8). He settled in an 18th-century Villa I Tatti near Florence and devoted himself to the study and identification of medieval and Renaissance works, specializing in Italian art. An honoured scholar and authenticator, he acquired prints and paintings for museums and private collectors, such as Isabella Gardner, and for international dealers, thereby making himself wealthy, and attracting criticism from some quarters for placing his connoisseurship at the service of profit-makers. In addition to the many distinguished critical essays and scholarly works, notably The Study and Criticism of Italian Art (1902) and Drawings of the Florentine Painters (1903), he published a three-volume autobiography (1949-52). He became famous for his ability to attribute paintings to artists based on specific characteristics of style and technique - even identifying hitherto unknown painters. At his death, the Villa I Tatti was left to Harvard University as a center for Italian Renaissance studies.

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