Monday, December 21, 2009

Last week I went to the Epstein/Gaudier-Brzeska/Gill exhibition at the Royal Academy, which was excellent, except in that I was hoping it basically would all be modernist robot sentries like the one on the poster, and it wasn't. (More my fault than the exhibition's.) Anyway, one thing I noticed is that several of the sculptures first entered the public museum system through donations by Josephine Porter Boardman Crane, aka Mrs. Murray Crane. The Crane family made their fortune from the Crane & Co. paper company, which was founded as the Liberty Paper Mill by the novelist and war correspondent Stephen Crane (Red Badge of Courage), and then in 1879 won a contract to supply paper to the US mint. In other words, every time Josephine Crane spent a dollar of her inheritance on a newspaper or a toffee apple, she was making use of the very product from which that inheritance derived. What a beautifully self-reflexive basis for a trust fund! She also founded the Dalton School in New York, where some of the minor characters in Gossip Girl go, and her daughter Louise was a friend of Tennessee Williams and Elizabeth Bishop.

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