Belonging and Betrayal

By: Charles Dellheim

Belonging and Betrayal is an epic story that charts the fortunes and misfortunes of a small number of Jewish art dealers and collectors from the late-19th century to the present and spans both Europe and the United States.

Since the mid-1990s, five decades after the end of the Second World War, the fate of Nazi stolen art has become a cause célèbre. A spate of books, articles, and films have examined the darkly enthralling story of how Nazis and collaborators ransacked Jewish-owned collections. Even so, the fundamental historical questions remains unasked and unanswered: how did certain Jewish art dealers and collectors who were cultural outsiders acquire so much great art in the first place — and what does this reveal about Jews, art, and modernity?

In Belonging and Betrayal, Dellheim takes up this question in a compelling narrative that focuses on the experience of a small number of dealers and collectors who came to play a pivotal role in the art world. They joined the ranks of the old masters, new masters, and the modernists champions. Belonging and Betrayal tells the story of the rise and fall of these individuals against the backdrop of major transformations, among them the gradual opening of European high culture, the dynamics of Jewish assimilation and acculturation, the crisis of the old landed aristocracy, the emergence of capitalist patrons of art, the emergence of modernism, the cultural impact of World War I, and the Nazi war against the Jews.

Based on prodigious research and told in sparkling, engaging, and accessible prose, this is a major work, that should command the interest of the general reader interested in modern cultural history, Jewish studies, art history, and the art market, as well as students and scholars of these fields.

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