Paul Mellon’s Legacy: A Passion for British Art

Cover, Paul Mellon’s Legacy: A Passion for British Art

Essays by John Baskett, Jules David Prown, Duncan Robinson, Brian Allen, and William Reese

With contributions by A. Cassandra Albinson, Elisabeth Fairman, Lisa Ford, Gillian Forrester, Matthew Hargraves, Eleanor Hughes, Julia Marciari Alexander, Morna O'Neill, Stéphane Roy, Angus Trumble, and Scott Wilcox

Published by the Yale Center for British Art and the Royal Academy of Arts, London in association with Yale University Press

348 pages, 12 x 9 5/8 inches, 370 illustrations, cloth, ISBN 978-0300117462

Publication date: June 12, 2007


Paul Mellon (1907–1999) was an unparalleled collector of British art. His collection, now at Yale University in the museum and study center he founded to house it, rivals those in Britain’s national museums and is unquestionably the most comprehensive representation of British art held outside of the United Kingdom.

This book celebrates the centenary of Paul Mellon’s birth with a richly illustrated selection of his finest acquisitions from the Center’s collection, along with essays considering his legacy. John Baskett shares an intimate memoir about Mr. Mellon’s life and extraordinary collecting activity. Jules David Prown discusses Mr. Mellon’s architectural patronage and Louis I. Kahn’s building for the Yale Center for British Art, which has come to be recognized as one of the most beautiful museum spaces in the world. Duncan Robinson and Brian Allen describe Mr. Mellon’s role in creating both the Yale Center for British Art and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London, and examine particularly how their growth has actively contributed to the understanding and promoting of the visual culture of Great Britain. And William Reese brings to light Mr. Mellon’s importance as a collector of rare books and manuscripts.

This is the first publication to feature all aspects of Paul Mellon’s gift to his alma mater (Yale College, Class of 1929). Lavishly showcasing 150 of the most exquisite and important paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints, sculptures, rare books, and manuscripts in the Center’s collection—including major works by Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Stubbs, John Constable, and J. M. W. Turner—this volume is a handsome tribute to one of British art’s greatest benefactors.

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