(Benson, Robert & Evelyn)
Catalogue of Italian pictures at 16, South Street, Park Lane, London and Buckhurst in Sussex collected by Robert and Evelyn Benson.
London, privately printed at the Chiswick Press 1914.
4to. xxvi + 229 + (1)pp, (82) photogravure plates, with additional printed slip stating “only one hundred and twenty five copies printed on handmade paper of this illustrated edition”. Original quarter vellum, marbled paper boards. Presentation copy from Robert and Evelyn Benson to Sidney and Delia Peel, with inscriptions in Latin and Greek dated Christmas 1914, and accompanying Benson and Peel bookplates.
A handsomely produced catalogue of the collection of 114 paintings by Italian artists of the earlier renaissance period assembled between the 1880s and 1914 by the London merchant banker Robert Benson (1850-1929) and his wife Evelyn, daughter of R.S. Holford, himself a celebrated picture collector in the previous generation. It is striking in retrospect that private British collectors of this date were able to put together a specialist collection of this size and quality, but a preface makes clear the connoisseurship and wider cultural background which the Bensons possessed. Although Tancred Borenius helped in the catalogue’s preparation, it seems likely that it was Robert Benson himself who contributed the preface and gave the catalogue its overall character. It was printed in an edition of 125 copies only for private circulation.