Barnes, Albert C.


Barnes, Albert C.

▪ American inventor and art collector
in full  Albert Coombs Barnes 
born Jan. 2, 1872, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.
died July 24, 1951, Chester county, Pa.

      American inventor of the antiseptic Argyrol (a mild silver protein) and noted art collector, whose collection resides in the Barnes Foundation Galleries in Merion, Pa., outside Philadelphia.

      Barnes grew up in poverty in South Philadelphia but managed to attend the University of Pennsylvania Medical School (M.D., 1892), supporting himself by tutoring, playing semiprofessional baseball, and boxing. Beginning in 1896, he attended schools in Germany to study advanced chemistry, and, when he returned to Philadelphia, he and a German chemist, Herman Hille, devised the formula for Argyrol, from which Barnes made a fortune. He bought out his partner in 1907 and formed the pharmaceutical A.C. Barnes Company (which he would sell very profitably in 1929).

      In 1905 Barnes built a mansion in Merion and began collecting paintings. In 1912 he commissioned William J. Glackens (Glackens, William J.), an artist and former high-school classmate, to collect some Impressionist (Impressionism) and Post-Impressionist (Post-Impressionism) paintings in France and was sufficiently impressed to begin his own personal buying trips to Paris; he never again used an intermediary. His most successful trip was in 1922–23, when he purchased more than 100 paintings. Over the years his collection grew to include 180 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Renoir, Pierre-Auguste), 60 by Henri Matisse (Matisse, Henri), 59 by Paul Cézanne (Cézanne, Paul), 35 by Pablo Picasso (Picasso, Pablo), and more than a thousand other art treasures. He was one of the first American collectors to appreciate the art of Chaim Soutine (Soutine, Chaim) and Amedeo Modigliani (Modigliani, Amedeo). Barnes's taste also included the early American modernists, Old Master drawings, African sculpture, and ironmongery. The Barnes Foundation (Barnes Foundation Galleries), housed in quarters next to his Merion home, was chartered on Dec. 4, 1922, and opened in 1925. The 22-room structure displayed his collection in a highly personal manner that eschewed standard museum practice. The foundation also was intended to promote art education by providing art classes taught by a full-time staff and by establishing a publishing program. (Barnes himself wrote and coauthored a number of books on art.)

      Barnes had a reputation for being paternalistic and hot-tempered and engaged in a number of public rows with employees, art critics, and museums. He died in an auto accident. After extensive litigation, his galleries were opened to the public in 1961. In 1993 the first ever traveling exhibition of works from the Barnes collection was organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Additional Reading
Howard Greenfeld, The Devil and Dr. Barnes: Portrait of an American Art Collector (1987), chronicles the collector's educational philosophy, friendships, and eccentric behaviour.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Barnes, Albert — ▪ American clergyman and writer born Dec. 1, 1798, Rome, N.Y., U.S. died Dec. 24, 1870, Philadelphia       U.S. Presbyterian (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)) clergyman and writer.       Of Methodist parentage, he intended to study law but, while at …   Universalium

  • Barnes,Albert Coombs — Barnes (bärnz), Albert Coombs. 1873 1951. American physician and art collector noted for his discovery of Argyrol and his collection of modern French paintings. * * * …   Universalium

  • Barnes, Albert C(oombs) — born Jan. 2, 1872, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S. died July 24, 1951, Chester county, Pa. Pharmaceutical manufacturer and art collector. He obtained a medical degree and later studied in Germany. In 1902 he made a fortune with his invention of the… …   Universalium

  • Barnes, Albert C(oombs) — (2 ene. 1872, Filadelfia, Pa., EE.UU.–24 jul. 1951, cond. de Chester, Pa.). Fabricante farmacéutico y coleccionista de arte. Obtuvo el título de médico y más tarde estudió en Alemania. En 1902 hizo fortuna con su invento del antiséptico Argyrol.… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Albert C. Barnes — Albert Barnes Coombs Nacimiento 2 de enero de 1872 Filadelfia Fallecimiento 24 de julio de 1951 Phoenixville Residencia …   Wikipedia Español

  • Albert Barnes — Albert C. Barnes en 1940 Albert Barnes (Albert Coombs Barnes), né le 2 janvier 1872 à Philadelphie et mort le 24 juillet 1951 à Phoenixville (Pennsylvanie) dans un accident de voiture, est un médecin, chimiste, inventeur et riche collectionneur d …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Barnes (name) — Barnes is an Anglo Saxon surname [cite web |url=http://www.surnamedb.com/surname.aspx?name=Barnes |title=Surnames: Barnes |accessdate=2008 04 21 |publisher=surnamedb.com] and rare given name. It may refer to: Surname *Barnes, Albert (1798 1870),… …   Wikipedia

  • Albert — Albert, Catalina * * * (as used in expressions) Achebe, (Albert) Chinua(lumogu) Barnes, Albert C(oombs) Beveridge, Albert J(eremiah) Bierstadt, Albert Billroth, (Christian Albert) Theodor Blakeslee, Albert Francis Brisbane, Albert Charles Albert… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Albert Gretzky — (Born 1942) was the Conservative Party of Canada candidate for Member of Parliament representing London West in the 2006 election. He finished second, 1,329 votes behind incumbent Liberal Sue Barnes.Albert Gretzky is the uncle of Wayne Gretzky.… …   Wikipedia

  • Albert Coombs Barnes — Édouard Manet: Die Wäsche, Barnes Foundation Albert Coombs Barnes (* 2. Januar 1872 in Kensington, Pennsylvania; † 24. Juli 1951 in Chester County, Pennsylvania) war ein amerikanischer Arzt, Pharmazeut, Kunstsammler, Autor …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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