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Book Cover for: Rogues and Scholars: A History of the London Art World: 1945-2000, James Stourton

Rogues and Scholars: A History of the London Art World: 1945-2000

James Stourton

A colorful and fast-moving account of how postwar London became the global center of the art market--a story of Impressionist masterpieces, dodgy dealers, and ground-breaking financial transactions.

On October 15, 1958, Sotheby's of Bond Street staged an "event sale" of seven Impressionist paintings belonging to Erwin Goldschmidt: three Manets, two Cézannes, one Van Gogh, and a Renoir. Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, and Somerset Maugham were there as celebrity guests. The seven lots went for £781,000--at the time the highest price for a single sale. The event established London as the world center of the art market and Sotheby's as an international auction house. It began a shift in power from the dealers to the auctioneers and paved the way for Impressionist paintings to dominate the market for the next forty years. Sotheby's had pulled off a massive coup by capturing the Impressionist market from Paris and New York--and now began its inexorable rise, opening offices all over the world. A huge expansion of the market followed, accompanied by rocketing prices, colorful scandals, and legal dramas. London transformed itself from a fusty place of old master painting sales to a revitalized center of contemporary art, crowned by the opening of Tate Modern in 2000. The Tate Modern successfully united new (and mostly foreign) money in London with the art world, offering its patrons a ready-made sophisticated social milieu alongside dealers in contemporary art. In a vibrant and briskly-paced style, James Stourton tells the story of the London art market from the immediate postwar period to the turn of the millennium. While Sotheby's is the lynchpin of this story, Stourton populates his narrative with a glorious rogue's gallery of eccentric scholars, clever amateurs, brilliant emigrés, and stylish grandees with a flair for the deal.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Pegasus Books
  • Publish Date: Feb 4th, 2025
  • Pages: 448
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 0.00in - 0.00in - 0.00in - 1.44lb
  • EAN: 9781639368235
  • Categories: History - Contemporary (1945- )History - Modern (Late 19th Century to 1945)

About the Author

Stourton, James: - James Stourton is a British art historian, a former chairman of Sotheby's UK, and the author of Kenneth Clark and Great Houses of London. Stourton frequently lectures to Cambridge University's History of Art Faculty, Sotheby's Institute of Education, and The Art Fund. He also sits on the Heritage Memorial Fund, a government panel that meets to decide what constitutes heritage and should be saved for the Britain nation. He lives in London.

Praise for this book

Early Praise for Rogues and Scholars:

"With panache and characteristically elegant narrative skill, James Stourton throws open the doors to a riveting chapter in the history of art in which glamorous eccentricities, serious scholarship and a good deal of swindling cohabit. It is a story of gentlemen and of crooks, told through witty firsthand accounts about colorful characters sailing dangerously close to the wind. Stourton brings us a gripping and thoroughly researched chronicle of the post-war art market, punctuated with the occasional 'you couldn't make this up' moment. Rogues & Scholars is just as entertaining as it is educational."--Wolf Burchard, curator of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Praise for Kenneth Clark:

"A crisp and authoritative biography [told] with grace and wit. A pre-eminent figure of cultural life during the twentieth century, Clark recognized that in dark times there is a yearning for serious art, music and literature."--Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"Learned, eloquent. Stourton carefully chronicles Clark's rather loveless childhood, his apprenticeship with Berenson in Italy, his appointment as keeper of fine art at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, at the astonishing age of 27, his rise to command the National Gallery at 30, [and his] influence in the world of television."--Dan Hofstadter, The Wall Street Journal

"James Stourton leaves no stone unturned in Kenneth Clark, his magisterial and engrossing biography, which achieves a perfect balance between Clark's complex private world and his hugely successful career."--Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War

"Outstanding. Stourton proves to be a highly capable guide to this significant 20th-century life...A sparkling, thoroughly entertaining portrait of a brilliant popularizer who brought art to the masses." -- "Kirkus Reviews


"Superb. Stourton, a former chariman of Southeby's, is the ideal choice for Clark's official biographer and has produced an accomplished book that is scholarly, entertaining, beautifully written and sympathetic, while far from uncritical."--Michael Prodger, The Times (London)

"Richly detailed, colourful and astute. A resplendent biography."--John Carey, The Sunday Times (London)

"An astute study. Stourton has dissected his subject's multiple personae and unpicked his ambiguities and evasions. [He] astutely analyses Clark's emotional and intellectual contradictions."--Peter Conrad, The Gaurdian