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Collection of Bernhard Berenson Materials

Identifier: BERENSON-1


  • 1897 - 1938


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials to be used on site during regular Special Collections hours or by appointment. Photocopying or scanning may be possible at discretion of staff for nominal fee. Materials may be protected by copyright.

Biographical / Historical

Bernhard Berenson (June 26, 1865 – October 6, 1959) was an American art historian specializing in the Renaissance. He was a major figure in pioneering art attribution and therefore establishing the market for paintings by the "Old Masters." Born Bernhard Valvrojenski in Lithuania, his family emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, in 1875, whereupon the family name was changed to "Berenson." He attended the Boston University College of Liberal Arts and Harvard University. He graduated from Harvard and married Mary Smith, who became a notable art historian in her own right. Among US collectors of the early 1900s, Berenson was regarded as the pre-eminent authority on Renaissance art. His verdict of authenticity increased a painting's value. While his approach remained controversial among European art historians, he played a pivotal role as an advisor to several important American art collectors. As Renaissance scholarship has evolved, a number of Berenson's attributions are now believed to be incorrect. Berenson died at age 94 in Settignano, Italy.


1.0 Linear Feet


Materials arranged in one series: Correspondence.

Custodial History

Materials acquired via gift or purchase.


See ANST.1, Folder C1: Statement, regarding the events which led to the writing of Beauty and Ugliness, with Violet Paget.

Finding Aid to the Collection of Bernhard Berenson Materials
Colby College Special Collections, Waterville, Maine
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Colby College Special Collections Repository

Special Collections & Archives (SC&A), located in Miller Library, is the college’s repository for historically and culturally -significant materials, including the college archives. Our fabulous materials range in date from the 12th to the 21st centuries and represent a wide range of formats. We fully support Colby’s academic program and innovative pedagogies through aspirational collection development, faculty and student engagement, teaching and exhibition.