An important, previously unwritten chapter in the history of art collecting In the last decades of the nineteenth century, the discovery of diamonds and subsequently gold in South Africa was a momentous event in the history of the British Empire, and one that led to certain entrepreneurs - Alfred Beit, Julius Wernher, Lionel Phillips, Max Michaelis and J.B. Robinson, among others - amassing enormous wealth. They were known as 'Randlords', and what they did with their wealth and how they used it to try and win acceptance into the higher realms of British society is the subject of this book, with specific reference to their acquisition of famous artworks. It makes a fascinating study: the often humble backgrounds of the Randlords; the acquisition of their wealth on the rough-and-ready diamond and gold fields and in the business houses of early Johannesburg; and the contrast of uncultured Johannesburg life with sophisticated London society are all explored. Of particular interest to the author, though, is the role that art, in the eyes of the Randlords, played in establishing their respectability, and how their collections were intended to project their social view of themselves.;The text is based on meticulous and highly lauded research, and examines an aspect of cultural and social history pertaining to both South Africa and England that has rarely been considered. A wealth of photographs, depict not only the artworks under discussion, but also the Randlords themselves and the surroundings they occupied. As a study of collecting art a hundred years ago, this book affirms the importance of art collections today and the ongoing value of art itself.
Dust jacket small tear otherwise in very good condition