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Belonging and Betrayal

How Jews Made the Art World Modern

The story of dealers of Old Masters, champions of modern art, and victims of Nazi plunder.
Since the late-1990s, the fate of Nazi stolen art has become a cause célèbre. In Belonging and Betrayal, Charles Dellheim turns this story on its head by revealing how certain Jewish outsiders came to acquire so many old and modern masterpieces in the first place – and what this reveals about Jews, art, and modernity. This book tells the epic story of the fortunes and misfortunes of a small number of eminent art dealers and collectors who, against the odds, played a pivotal role in the migration of works of art from Europe to the United States and in the triumph of modern art. Beautifully written and compellingly told, this story takes place on both sides of the Atlantic from the late nineteenth century to the present. It is set against the backdrop of critical transformations, among them the gradual opening of European high culture, the ambiguities of Jewish acculturation, the massive sell-off of aristocratic family art collections, the emergence of different schools of modern art, the cultural impact of World War I, and the Nazi war against the Jews.

672 pages | 24 color plates, 95 halftones | 7 x 10

Art: European Art

History: European History

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"(An) exceptional work of scholarship. A brilliant account of Nazi pillage and the ongoing efforts at restitution."

Kirkus (starred review)

“A hefty, deeply researched book . . . A compelling portrait of the Jewish families who, unexpectedly, became arbiters of taste in Europe, beginning in the late 19th century and ending with Nazi plunder. Read if you’re into: thinking about art history, Jewish history and where they intersect.”


"Readers of Dellheim’s book will learn more about the history of modern art and European cultural history during times of upheaval and turmoil. Those who enjoy history and art history will enjoy this deep dive.”

Library Journal

"Dellheim's 600-plus-page tour de force [is] well-illustrated with paintings that its cast of characters collected and sold... [and] primary sources that reveal the extent of Nazi looting..."


"This is a magisterial book. Wide-ranging yet closely focused, detailed yet suspenseful, it should be required reading for all who make art or collect it. Gracefully written and sumptuously illustrated throughout, Belonging and Betrayal is an important--even indispensable--contribution to the field."

Nicholas Delbanco, author of Why Writing Matters

"A major contribution to understanding a profound Jewish goal to belong and succeed, only to be betrayed by willful acts by Nazis and their collaborators. This impressive book will engage you, surprise you, anger you, and above all, enrich you."

Richard I. Cohen, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author, Jewish Icons

"Brilliantly evocative and deeply researched, Charles Dellheim’s Belonging and Betrayal is a superb addition to the ongoing discussion on art ownership, theft, and restoration."

David H. Lynn, editor emeritus of The Kenyon Review

Table of Contents

Prologue: Reframing the Picture

Part I. The Old Masters’ New Masters
1. Horse Dealer to Art Dealer
2. Treasure Island
3. Assimilating Art
4. Acquiring Eyes
5. Metropolitan Man

Part II. Was Modernism Jewish?
6. Madman and Sons
7. Was Modernism Jewish?
8. First Impressionists
9. Berlin Calling
10. Between Bohemian and Bourgeois
11. The Right Banker

Part III. In The Middle
12. The Wheel of War
13. Brothers-in-Arms
14. Custody Battles
15. In the Market of Love
16. Brothers-in-Law
17. Gentlemen and Players

Part IV. To Have And Have Not
18. Artful Jews
19. Artless Jews
20. Next Year in Paris?
21. After the Fall
22. The Dispossessed
23. The Exiles and the Kingdom
Epilogue: A Crack in Everything

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