The Art of Scandal: The Life and Times of Isabella Stewart Gardner

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9780060929770: The Art of Scandal: The Life and Times of Isabella Stewart Gardner

"The narrative is one long, messy, juicy gossip peppered with exclamations. . . . But gossip is an effective rhetoric for this life. . . . Gardner may have hoped, by burning her letters, to escape capture in yet another book plotted like a novel by Henry James. She might have liked this garrulous, sociable portrait of her time."
-- Diane Wood Middlebrook, New York Times Book Review (front page review)

"This intimate engrossing biography finally gives the creator of one of the world's great museums credit for her achievements. . . . The author's expertise in American cultural history greatly enriches his narrative."
-- The New Yorker

"It's the unauthorized story of the grandest of Boston's grand dames that any sentient person wants to read. The Art of Scandal has a delightful sense of the city that once was the Athens of America."
-- Alex Beam, Boston Globe

"He dares to paint in words the woman John Singer Sargent painted on canvas. . . . She is always engagingly human and brimming with life."
-- Daniel Aaron, The New Republic

"Gardner's heretofore fugitive life story is riveting because Shand-Tucci turns out to be erudite, witty, and wise. . . . Shand-Tucci describes her adventures, eccentricities, and resounding success as a muse, mentor, patron, and designer, shedding light on a singular woman and her influential role in the evolution of American culture."
-- Booklist

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Review:

Henry James fictionalized her, John Singer Sargent painted her, Bernard Berenson advised her. But art collector extraordinaire Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) was more than a rich socialite who lucked into friendships with the leading cultural figures of her day. Boston historian Douglass Shand-Tucci convincingly claims her as a pioneering multiculturalist--her famous museum in Fenway Court enshrined Asian art as well as that of the old masters--and a rebel who befriended Jews, homosexuals, and other outcasts from Victorian society. Shand-Tucci's highly colored, romantic prose aptly evokes his fiery, willful, egotistical subject.

About the Author:

Douglas Shand-Tucci is a historian of American art and architecture and New England studies. His most recent book, Boston Bohemia, 1881-1900, was one of five 1996 Winship/PEN New England Award finalists for best book of the year by a New England author. He lives in Boston's Back Bay at the Hotel Vendome, a place much frequented by both Isabella Stewart Gardner and John Singer Sargent.

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Shand-Tucci, Douglass
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