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"Only the Best": Masterpieces of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon

"Only the Best": Masterpieces of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon

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Rating: 5 stars
Summary: Oil and Art
Review: The first two decades of the 20th century were marked by military conflicts, civil wars, genocide and famine. During these hard times a dozen of individuals from both sides of the Atlantic became extremely wealthy by founding oil companies. Among them was Calouste Gulbekian who had generated tremendous wealth from his oil dealings in the Middle East and Russia. Along with his knowledge of the petroleum industry Gulbenkian's passion for art led to a collection of masterpieces that is only rivalled by major museums. Islamic Art, Armenian manuscripts, French Sculpture, jewelry by Lalique, paintings by Rubens, Manet, Gainsborough and others - all reflect Calouste Gulbenkian's different facets of life. Gulbenkian was born in Constantinople to an Armenian family. He studied and lived in London, Paris and Lisbon. Along with his oil dealings in Russia in the 1920s he had also acquired art from Hermitage. In his letter to John Walker, curator of the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C., in February 1953, Gulbenkian wrote: I fully realize that it is high time that I should come to a decision with regard to the future of my collections. You know also how deeply attached I am to them all, in fact, it is without slightest exaggeration that I consider them as "my children" and their future welfare is one of my dominant anxieties. They represent fifty or sixty years of my life and I have collected them, at times with immense difficulties, and always and exclusively guided by my own taste and judgement! Of course, as all collectors do, I have sought advice, but I do feel they are mine, after my own heart and soul!! On October 3, 1965 the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and the headquarters of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation opened in Santa Gertrudes Park in Lisbon, Portugal.

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