Robert H. and Evelyn Benson

Robert H. Benson was a senior partner of a London firm of merchant bankers as well as a zealous collector of Italian Renaissance art. Robert went on to marry Evelyn Holford, sister of Sir George Holford (1860-1926), a wealthy courtier and British Army officer. During forty years of their marriage the couple acquired 114 paintings ranging from the 14th to 16th centuries. The two placed specific emphasis on collecting Venetian art and created a one-of-a-kind collection that became admired by fellow collectors. The Benson’s were close friends with the art dealers, the Duveen brothers, and, according to a widely circulated story, Joseph Duveen handed Robert Benson a blank check during a dinner party. Then, in July 1927, the Benson Collection was sold to the Duveens for the staggering price of $2.5 million. This transaction allowed many works of Titian’s to pass hands and disperse through the sales of the Duveens. These works included: Salome with the Head of John the Baptist, Madonna and Child, Gentleman with a Falcon, and Andrea dei Franceschi.