Art: Dime-Store Santa

The two gentlemen from Washington's National Gallery of Art had every reason to be jubilant as they left the Manhattan penthouse of Dime-Store Tycoon Samuel Kress that day in 1939, but they also had reason to wonder about Mr. Kress's mood. "I feel," said one, "as though we had just become his sons-in-law, and that he's still not too sure of the marriage." Small wonder. The marriage in question was Kress's gift to the National Gallery of 416 paintings and 35 sculptures from his own beloved collection—the beginning of the biggest art giveaway program since the Palatine Electress Anna Maria Ludovica,...

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