This is the Story of how a fabled art foundation in a wealthy Main Line suburb of Philadelphia became captive to the roiling ethnic, racial, cultural, and political crosscurrents of a great American city.
The Barnes Foundation is home to the world's most important postimpressionist art collection (including more Cezannes than all of the museums of Paris combined). So rich is the collection that it is valued at more than $6 billion, yet today the Barnes is virtually broke. Its fate has been shaped by two men: Albert C. Barnes, who emerged from the Philadelphia slums to become a turn-of-the-century patent medicine king, and Richard Glanton, who escaped poverty in Georgia to become a wealthy and influential lawyer. Born almost a century apart, the two men stamped their distinct personalities on the foundation: Barnes as its iconoclastic founder, Glanton as its president during the turbulent decade of the nineties.