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Andrew W. Mellon

(1855—1937) American financier and philanthropist

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(b Pittsburgh, 24 Mar. 1855; d Southampton, NY, 26 Aug. 1937).

American businessman, public official, art collector, and philanthropist. A banker and steel, coke, and oil magnate, he became secretary to the US treasury (1921–32), ambassador to England (1932–3), and one of the richest men in the world. In 1937, shortly before his death, he donated his collection (particularly rich in Dutch and English painting) to the nation, together with funds to build a gallery to house them, thus creating the National Gallery of Art in Washington (opened 1941). His son, Paul Mellon (b Pittsburgh, 11 June 1907; d Upperville, Va., 1 Feb. 1999), was also an outstanding collector, his main field of interest being British art, and is ‘widely regarded as the greatest philanthropist of the 20th century’ (Oxford DNB). In 1966 he founded the Yale Center for British Art at New Haven. Opened in 1977, the Center is not only a major gallery (second only to Tate Britain in its holdings of British art), but also a research institution, with large collections of books and photographs. Its sister institution, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, was founded in London in 1970 (a successor to the Paul Mellon Foundation for British Art, established there in 1962). It is an educational charity whose purpose is to advance the study of British art, mainly by sponsorship of publications and support of research.

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