Benjamin Altman

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Benjamin Altman
Benjamin Altman.jpg
Born (1840-07-12)July 12, 1840
New York City
Died October 7, 1913(1913-10-07) (aged 73)
New York City
Nationality American

Benjamin Altman (July 12, 1840 – October 7, 1913) was a New York City department store owner and art collector who is best known today for his large art collection, which he donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

B. Altman & Co.[edit]

Benjamin Altman was the son of Bavarian Jews who emigrated to America in 1835 and opened a small store on Attorney Street in New York City. After working in his father's dry goods store, Altman set out on his own. In 1865, Altman founded B. Altman & Co., a dry goods store located on Third Avenue and 10th Street in New York City. Over the years, the store grew in prosperity and expanded to several other locations. In 1877, a large storefront opened on Sixth Avenue. Dubbed the "Palace of Trade" for its lavish architecture, Altman's store was one of the first to display clothing for different ages in different areas.[1]

Altman used his wealth to fund various initiatives in his native city. Shortly before his death, he founded the Altman Foundation, a charity to support educational institutions in New York City.

Altman's Art Collections and Portraits[edit]

Benjamin Altman was an avid collector of Rembrandt paintings and Oriental porcelain, much of which he acquired through his friend, art dealer Henry J. Duveen. He was often advised in his painting purchases by Max Friedlander. The painting collection alone was notable for including the museum's first Vermeer and 20 Rembrandts, though a few have since been reattributed. Upon his death, he donated the collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The collection also contains notable portraits of Flemish and German merchants from the Renaissance.[2]

Paintings in the Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913[edit]

image title painter date accession number The Met url
Rembrandt Portrait of a man with a steel gorget.jpg
Man with a Steel Gorget Style of Rembrandt 1648 14.40.601 MET
Young Man and Woman in an Inn ("Yonker Ramp and His Sweetheart") MET DP145899.jpg
Yonker Ramp and his sweetheart Frans Hals 1623 14.40.602 MET
Jacob Adriaensz Backer - portrait of an old woman in an armchair 14.40.603.jpg
Old Woman in an Armchair Jacob Adriaensz Backer 1640 14.40.603 MET
Frans Hals 001.png
The Fingernail Test Frans Hals
Judith Leyster
1626 14.40.604 MET
Frans Hals - Shrovetide Revellers - WGA11050.jpg
Shrovetide Revellers Frans Hals 1616 14.40.605 MET
Saint Justina of Padua.PNG
Saint Justina of Padua Bartolomeo Montagna 14.40.606 MET
Self-Portrait MET DP145902.jpg
Self-Portrait Gerrit Dou 1665 14.40.607 MET
Rembrandt - portrait of a boy in fanciful costume.jpg
Rembrandt's Son Titus Style of Rembrandt 1680s 14.40.608 MET
Rembrandt - Woman cutting her nails.jpg
Old Woman Cutting Her Nails Style of Rembrandt 1650s 14.40.609 MET
Rembrandt - Pilate Washing his Hands.jpg
Pilate Washing His Hands Style of Rembrandt 1660s 14.40.610 MET
Vermeer young women sleeping.jpg
A Girl Asleep Johannes Vermeer 1657 14.40.611 MET
Nicolaes Maes - Young Girl peeling Apples.jpg
Young Woman Peeling Apples Nicolaes Maes 1655 14.40.612 MET
Pieter de hooch, interno con giovane coppia, 1662-65 ca..JPG
Interior with a Young Couple Pieter de Hooch 1662 14.40.613 MET
Entrance to a Village MET DP146444.jpg
Entrance to a Village Meindert Hobbema 1690s 14.40.614 MET
Portrait of a Woman, Called the Marchesa Durazzo MET ep14.40.615.R.jpg
Portrait of a Woman, Called the Marchesa Durazzo Anthony van Dyck 14.40.615 MET
Aelbert Cuyp - Young Herdsman with Cows - WGA5829.jpg
Young Herdsmen with Cows Aelbert Cuyp 14.40.616 MET
A Woman Playing the Theorbo-Lute and a Cavalier MET DP145907.jpg
A Woman Playing the Theorbo-Lute and a Cavalier Gerard ter Borch 14.40.617 MET
Rembrant Self-Portrait, 1660.jpg
Self portrait Rembrandt 1660 14.40.618 MET
Lucas van Uffel (died 1637) by Anthony van Dyck.jpg
Lucas van Uffel (died 1637) Anthony van Dyck 1624s 14.40.619 MET
A Man holding Gloves, by Rembrandt van Rijn.jpg
Portrait of a man with gloves in hand Rembrandt 1648 14.40.620 MET
61027 Portrait of a Man with a Magnifying Glass.jpg
Man with a Magnifying Glass Rembrandt 1660s 14.40.621 MET
Portrait of a Woman with a Pink Carnation.jpg
Woman with a Pink Rembrandt 1660s 14.40.622 MET
Jacob Isaaksz. van Ruisdael 019.jpg
Wheat Fields Jacob van Ruisdael 1670 14.40.623 MET
Portrait of a Man ("The Auctioneer") MET DP145912.jpg
Portrait of a Man ("The Auctioneer") Follower of Rembrandt 1658 14.40.624 MET
Rembrandt - Portrait of a woman - MET DP145913.jpg
Portrait of a Woman Rembrandt 1633 14.40.625 MET
Memling, tommaso portinari e la moglie, metropolitan museum.jpg
Portrait of Maria Portinari Hans Memling 1470 14.40.626–27 MET
The Crucifixion MET DT258855.jpg
The Crucifixion Fra Angelico 14.40.628 MET
Willem Drost - Young Woman in a Pearl Necklace - MET.jpg
Young Woman with a Pearl Necklace after Willem Drost; bequeathed as a Rembrandt in 1913 1654 14.40.629 MET
Ulrich Fugger the Younger (1490–1525) MET DP280794.jpg
Ulrich Fugger (1490–1525) Hans Maler zu Schwaz 1525 14.40.630 MET
La cena de Emaús, by Diego Velázquez.jpg
The Supper at Emmaus Diego Velázquez 14.40.631 MET
Virgin and Child with Angels MET DT7216.jpg
Virgin and Child with Angels Bernard van Orley 14.40.632 MET
Albrecht Dürer - Virgin and Child with Saint Anne.jpg
Virgin and Child with Saint Anne Albrecht Dürer 1519 14.40.633 MET
Virgin and Child with Saints Catherine of Alexandria and Barbara MET DT1465.jpg
Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine Hans Memling 1479 14.40.634 MET
Madonna and Child with Angels MET
Madonna and Child with Angels Workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio 1500s 14.40.635 MET
Christ Taking Leave of His Mother MET DT7217.jpg
Christ Taking Leave of His Mother Gerard David 14.40.636 MET
Hans Holbein d. J. 034.jpg
Lady Lee (Margaret Wyatt, born about 1509) Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger 1540s 14.40.637 MET
Federico II Gonzaga (age 10) - Francesco Francia.jpg
Federigo Gonzaga (1500–1540) Francesco Francia 1510 14.40.638 MET
Diego Rodríguez Velázquez - Felipe IV Rey de España.jpg
Philip IV (1605–1665), King of Spain Diego Velázquez 14.40.639 MET
Portrait of a Man MET DT2774.jpg
Portrait of a Man Titian 1512 14.40.640 MET
Madonna and Child with Saint Joseph and an Angel Raffaellino del Garbo 14.40.641 MET
Sandro Botticelli 019.jpg
The Last Communion of Saint Jerome Sandro Botticelli 1495 14.40.642 MET
Mantegna, madonna altman, 1495-1505.jpg
The Holy Family with Saint Mary Magdalen Andrea Mantegna 1495 14.40.643 MET
Dieric Bouts - Portrait of a Man - WGA2971.jpg
Portrait of a Man Dieric Bouts 1470 14.40.644 MET
Antonello da Messina 057.jpg
Portrait of a Young Man Antonello da Messina 14.40.645 MET
Elizabeth, Lady Rich, after Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg
Lady Rich (Elizabeth Jenks, died 1558) Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger 1540 14.40.646 MET
Workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio, 1470s Metropolitan Museum N-Y.jpg
Madonna and Child Workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio 1470 14.40.647 MET
Portrait of an old man Hans Memling 1475 14.40.648 MET
Cosmè Tura 026.jpg
Portrait of a Young Man Cosimo Tura 14.40.649 MET
Filippo Archinto (born about 1500, died 1558), Archbishop of Milan MET DT5147.jpg
Portrait of Cardinal Filippo Archinto Titian 14.40.650 MET
Rembrandt - The Toilet of Bathseba.JPG
Bathsheba at her Toilette Rembrandt 1643 14.40.651 MET
Changing Pasture MET DT1987.jpg
Changing Pasture Anton Mauve 14.40.810 MET
Corot - The Ferryman.jpg
The Ferryman Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot 1865s 14.40.811 MET
Twilight MET
Twilight Anton Mauve 14.40.812 MET
A Pond in Picardy MET
A Pond in Picardy Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot 14.40.813 MET
A Path among the Rocks MET DT240033.jpg
A Path among the Rocks Théodore Rousseau 14.40.814 MET
The Banks of the Oise MET
The Banks of the Oise Charles-François Daubigny 1863 14.40.815 MET
The Return to the Fold MET
The Return to the Fold Anton Mauve 14.40.816 MET
A Lane through the Trees MET DP332562.jpg
A Lane through the Trees Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot 14.40.817 MET
A River Landscape with Storks MET EP1038.jpg
A River Landscape with Storks Charles-François Daubigny 1864 14.40.818 MET
The Edge of the Woods MET
The Edge of the Woods Narcisse Virgilio Díaz 1872 14.40.819 MET

There is a portrait of Altman in the New York State Museum in Albany; it was painted by the Swiss-born American artist Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862–1947) and donated to the New York Chamber of Commerce by Altman's business partner Michael Friedsam. Müller-Ury knew Altman personally as a client of art dealer Henry Duveen. He was compelled to paint from a photograph after Altman's death. He first completed a 50 x 40 (inch) portrait of Altman seated in his gallery with a Rembrandt behind him and a Chinese vase on a table beside him, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for whom this had been painted, chose another portrait of Altman by Ellen Emmet Rand also made from a photograph, and Müller-Ury's larger work went to the Foundation offices; it has since disappeared.[3]


  1. ^ Abrams, Jeanne. "Benjamin Altman." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 2, edited by William J. Hausman. German Historical Institute. Last modified November 14, 2013.
  2. ^ Haskell, Francis (1970). "The Benjamin Altman Bequest". Metropolitan Museum Journal. 3. Retrieved July 11, 2016. 
  3. ^ American Art News, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Oct. 10, 1914), pp. 1

External links[edit]