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Hill’s Catalogue of the Dreyfus Renaissance Medals

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Hill’s Catalogue of the Dreyfus Renaissance Medals
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Hill, George Francis. THE GUSTAVE DREYFUS COLLECTION. I: RENAISSANCE MEDALS. Oxford: At the University Press, 1931. Folio [40 by 30 cm], later black cloth, gilt. xii, 311, (1) pages; 141 superb plates depicting 667 medals. A little rubbed; very good or better. The rare original edition of this important, beautifully produced work. The collection now resides in the Samuel H. Kress Collection at the National Gallery of Art, and indeed the later binding on this copy describes it as the Kress Collection. George Hill, in his preface, notes that “keenly as Gustave Dreyfus appreciated all his beautiful things, he had a particularly soft place in his heart for the Italian medals... His was perhaps the finest collection that has ever been in the hands of a private collector--the ‘perhaps’ might be omitted but that it is difficult to range the great collections in a true perspective.” A printed notice on the verso of the half-title reveals that “The collection of Monsieur Gustave Dreyfus was acquired in 1930 from his executors by Sir Joseph Duveen Bart.” Sir Joseph was the moving force of the New York City firm of Duveen Brothers and, by most accounts, remains the greatest international art dealer of all time. His trade in master paintings and other superb works of art is legendary. Numismatically, Joseph Duveen, Lord Milbank, is best known for his acquisition of the celebrated Gustave Dreyfus collection of Renaissance medals, plaquettes, and bronzes, and his subsequent publication of the superb three volumes describing and depicting the collection. Volumes by De Ricci on the bronzes and on the plaquettes complete the triad. The limited initial printings and concentration of copies in institutional holdings combine to make the appearance at sale of any of the three volumes a noteworthy occasion. Clain-Stefanelli 14288. Grierson 256.