TIAMSA Member PUBL: “The Virtual Collection of Alexandre Berthier, Prince of Wagram” (open access: Nineteenth Century Art Worldwide) by Léa Saint-Raymond and Hadrien Viraben

One year after the death of her cousin Alexandre Berthier, the fourth Prince of Wagram (1883–1918), the French author Élisabeth de Gramont described his collection thus:

“At age twenty-five, Alexandre of Wagram possessed a remarkable collection of modern paintings, acquired through instinctive purchases and shrewd selection. Its total market value would today be between forty and fifty million francs. Its impressive inventory contained thirty works by Courbet, fifty by Renoir, forty-seven by Van Gogh, twenty-eight by Cézanne, forty by Monet, twenty-six by Sisley, twenty by Pissarro, ten by Puvis de Chavannes, eleven by Degas, and twelve by Manet.”

Archival research of recent decades has presented findings which cast some doubt on this view, however. The present paper further explores the evidence and argues that Berthier’s reputation as a collector “was based on a myth of conspicuous consumption and clever speculation, largely based on a wealth of paper transactions.”

Link to the open access article: