My Dear BB . . .

The Letters of Bernard Berenson and Kenneth Clark, 1925–1959

Edited and annotated by Robert Cumming

View Inside Price: $45.00


June 16, 2015
584 pages, 6 x 9
50 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300207378
Cloth

In 1925, the 22-year-old Kenneth Clark (1903–1983) and the legendary art critic and historian Bernard Berenson (1865–1959) met in Italy. From that moment, they began a correspondence that lasted until Berenson’s death at age 94. This book makes available, for the first time, the complete correspondence between two of the most influential figures in the 20th-century art world, and gives a new and unique insight into their lives and motivations. The letters are arranged into ten chronological sections, each accompanied by biographical details and providing the context for the events and personalities referred to. They were both talented letter writers: informative, spontaneous, humorous, gossipy, and in their frequent letters they exchanged news and views about art and politics, friends and family life, collectors, connoisseurship, discoveries, books read and written, and travel. Berenson advised Clark on his blossoming career, warning against the museum and commercial art worlds while encouraging his promise as a writer and interpreter of the arts. Above all, these letters trace the development of a deep and intimate friendship.

Robert Cumming is an adjunct professor at Boston University, who has studied in depth the lives and connoisseurship of Berenson and Clark.


‘Robert Cumming’s informative and shrewd linking commentaries, footnoted glosses and lively biographical appendix all enhance and illuminate the letters. There a skittish touches that are thoroughly endearing. He lets the correspondence’s ‘evolving continuity’ stand as an ‘authentic testimony’.’—Richard Davenport-Hines, Literary Review.

‘Both men are blessed on this occasion in having Robert Cumming as editor. His apparatus is superbly thorough and the footnotes salvage many a dull reference. In giving us rather more than we need, Cumming confers amplitude and completeness upon his project.’—Duncan Fallowell, the Spectator.

‘…Cumming is a perceptive and diligent editor; his annotations and notes a mine of information’—Robert Carver, the Tablet.
 

"Superbly edited and annotated… Cumming’s introductions to the various chapters form a deft narrative of the two lives"—Patrick McCaughey, Australian Book Review

“The letters have been edited and annotated to superlative effect by Robert Cumming…How do I love this book? Let me count the ways. First there are the letters themselves, richissime in information and observations on art, people and the world at large… a steady stream of historical context engages the reader and leads him on… This is a real contribution to the study of art history.”—Eliot Rowlands, Art Newspaper

“A portrait of youth and age, My Dear BB plays out against the formative years of our current art landscape with a cast of cast of supporting characters —Duveen, Noialles, Gulbenkian, Courtauld — now synonymous with institutions they helped form. Cumming’s extensive supporting essays and notes betray formidable research, but like his subjects he carries his knowledge lightly, and deploys it to inspire rather than bludgeon.”—Hettie Judah, Art Review