Art: RENAISSANCE BRONZES: KRESS COLLECTION

IN the dark days after the Franco-Prussian war and the Paris Commune of 1871, French Banker Gustave Dreyfus, 35, sought out Paris Art Critic Charles Timbal. Taking shrewd advantage of the general despair, Dreyfus coolly offered to buy the collection of Italian Renaissance art works that Timbal had spent 19 years assembling. Timbal sold, thus making Dreyfus overnight the possessor of a small private museum of Renaissance sculpture and painting.

Dreyfus quickly developed a connoisseur's eye for the small bronzes, rarely over gin. high, that Renaissance noblemen once placed in their studies as...

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