Renowned Biographer Meryle Secrest To Speak At The Clark

For Immediate Release

September 24, 2004

Meryle Secrest, Pulitzer-Prize-nominated biographer of Stephen Sondheim, Frank Lloyd Wright, and others, will speak at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute on Tuesday, October 5, at 5:30 p.m. Secrest's topic will be "Joseph Duveen: Kingpin of Art." Secrest's biography of the famous art dealer, Duveen: A Life in Art, has recently been published by Knopf. Her public talk will be followed by a booksigning. The Clark appearance is Secrest's only New England stop on her current book tour. Admission is free.

The lecture is part of an ongoing series of "Art in the World" lectures at the Clark.

Secrest researched part of her new book at the Clark, using the resources of the Clark's extensive library, which holds the Duveen Library of 12,000 volumes and related archival material from the Duveen Brothers' business. Her book is the first biography of the influential dealer in 50 years, and Secrest was the first to have access to the Duveen archive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Duveen: A Life in Art was recently reviewed in the New York Times Book Review, which hailed it as "thoroughly researched and detailed" and noted that "Meryle Secrest is well placed to provide a new, accurate, evenhanded account of Duveen's glamorous career." Publisher's Weekly called the book "an engrossing picture of the art-dealing accomplished biography."

Meryle Secrest was born and educated in Bath, England. At 19, she became one of the women's editors for the Hamilton News in Ontario, and was shortly thereafter named "Most Promising Young Writer" by the Canadian Women's Press Club. In 1964 she began writing for the Washington Post, doing profile interviews of personalities from Leonard Bernstein to Anaïs Nin. In 1975 she left the Post to devote her time to writing biographies. She has written acclaimed biographies of Bernard Berenson, Kenneth Clark, Stephen Sondheim, Richard Rodgers, Leonard Bernstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Salvador Dali.

Joseph Duveen was one of the most influential art dealers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Believing that "Europe has the art and America has the money," Duveen persuaded American entrepreneurs J.P. Morgan, Henry Clay Frick, Joseph E. Widener, and John D. Rockefeller that ownership of great art would ennoble them. He helped form their collections filled with Botticellis, Rembrandts, and Vermeers, and dominated the American art market.

The Clark Library purchased the Duveen Library in 1965. The collection includes complete runs of 19th-century periodicals and volumes on Italian and Netherlandish art, connsoisseurship, and iconography. The Clark also holds portions of the Duveen Brothers' archive, including ledgers and business records, albums and loose photographic prints, scrapbooks, and correspondence. The Duveen Library is integrated into the Clark Library's collection, open to the public; the archive is open to qualified researchers.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit

Return to the previous page