Random Passions

HUGHES DUBOIS

ETERNAL BEAUTY: A gilt bronze funeral mask from 12th century China

Enrico Cernuschi was a man of passion. Born in Milan in 1821, he was such a fiery supporter of Italian independence from Austrian rule that he was forced to flee to Paris in 1850. There he Frenchified his first name to Henri and channeled his energy toward more lucrative pursuits, helping to found the Banque de Paris. In 1871, appalled by the turmoil of the Paris Commune, a workers' revolution, he took himself and the young art critic Theodore Duret on a world tour, during which he focused on collecting Asian art. Voraciously acquisitive, he was as likely to buy whole...

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