Louisine & Henry Havemeyer

LOUISINE & HENRY HAVEMEYER (1855 - 1929 ; 1847 - 1909)


Louisine and Henry Osborne Havemeyer are among the most important American collectors of their time. They were the first in the USA to acquire works from the Impressionists, while these artists were still disputed. Their legacy has left an indelible mark on American museums. MyStudiolo traces the life of these two prolific and generous collectors in:

6 key dates 4 artworks 3 anecdotes 1 quote

1877 Before their meeting, the two future spouses were already collectors. Thanks to the influence of Marry Cassat, it was at the age of 22 during a stay in Paris that Louisine acquired her first Degas, a Ballet Rehearsal and her first Monet, Le Pont-Levis. Sugar tycoon, Henry - called Harry, had acquired Japanese objects.

1881 Louisine goes to London, to Whistler's, and brings back five of Degas' pastels. She also buys works by Camille Pissarro. Then she returned to Paris, determined to start a collection of Courbet. At the same time, Harry became interested in Delacroix and the Barbizon painters.

1883 They united their destinies, their fortunes and their collections. The couple then began to collect together: Asian objects and paintings by old masters, including the Portrait of Herman Doomer by Rembrandt and Spanish painting including works by Goya and two paintings by El Greco, Portrait of a cardinal and View of Toledo.

1892 To house their collection, they built a house in Manhattan. The couple turns more and more to 19th century French painting: Courbet, Monet, Manet and Cézane. This part of the collection, of which she was the true instigator, was formed with the help of Cassatt and the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. The New York billionaires met at their home to admire the new European painting.

1907 After the death of her husband in 1907, for a short period, Louisine made fewer acquisitions, campaigning for the right to vote for women and starting to write her memoirs, before becoming interested again in art and making some important acquisitions.

1929 The legacy of a large part of the Havemeyer collection by Louisine to the Metropolitan Museum of Art was announced as one of the most beautiful donations of works ever made to a museum by a single person. Louisine and Henry were revolutionary collectors. They explored areas of painting unknown in the USA such as Impressionism and Spanish painting and created demand and established a taste among their contemporaries.

Katsushika Hokusai, The big wave of Kanagawa, 1830

El Greco, Portrait of Nino de Guevara, vers 1600

Gustave Courbet, The women in the wave, 1868

Edouard Manet, Boating, 1874


  • In order to perfect her education, Louisine went to Paris, then capital of the arts and letters. In 1874, she visited the first Impressionist exhibition and was presented to a compatriot, Mary Cassatt, painter and impressionist - who would become her friend and especially her art adviser.

  • The Havemeyers had three children: Adaline, Horace, and Electra. The Havemeyer children were all collectors, but it was Electra Havemeyer Webb who founded a museum to display his collections there. Some impressionist works are also presented there.

  • Confronted by a rich widow who contemptuously asked her why she was spending so much money on works of art, Louisine replied - after having examined her pearl necklace for a long time - that she preferred having something handmade rather than made by an oyster.

« The people love art, the people know art, the people buy art, the people live with their art. »

Louisine Havemeyer, about French people

Discover the book Splendid Legacy : The Havemeyer Collection

© 2020 par MyStudiolo

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