A contribution by
Dr. Andria Derstine
John G. W. Cowles Director
Allen Memorial Art Museum
The Journal of a Transatlantic Art Dealer
René Gimpel (1918-1939)
In The Journal of a Transatlantic Art Dealer, René Gimpel 1918-1939, Diana J. Kostyrko traces the life and work of René Gimpel, his social milieu, and the patterns of art consumption and connoisseurship in the early 20th century. It is an important contribution towards an understanding of the art market in the interwar period, as enlightening for the scholar of Titian, Degas, or Laurencin as for the dix-huitièmiste.
Scores of artists, dealers, collectors and other prominent figures inhabit the lively pages of this book. Gimpel’s journal itself, both as a historical document with valuable information on purchases, prices, and provenance, and as a narrative and acute social commentary marked both by seriousness and humor, is a significant art historical resource. Kostyrko’s thorough research, using many unpublished primary sources and archival documents, brings it richly alive and makes an invaluable contribution towards an understanding of changes in taste and consumption, situating the text within its historical context. Gimpel was active both in Europe and in the United States, and the author’s sensitive portrayal of this trans-Atlantic reach is especially enlightening. This is complemented by her discussion of the vicissitudes of the journal’s text and translation since its first publication in 1963 in French and in 1966 in English.
Augmented by useful appendices of genealogical, chronological, and provenance information, this portrait of an era transports the reader to a world at once long gone but that still surrounds us through the many works whose stories are here told.