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Title: Art & Aspirations
Subtitle: The Randlords of South Africa and their Collections
Author: Michael Stevenson
Publisher: Fernwood Press
Cape Town, 2002
ISBN 9781874950639 / ISBN 978-1-874950-63-9
Hardcover, dustjacket, 28x31 cm, 200 pages, throughout colour and b/w photos and illustrations
The late 19th-century discovery of diamonds and gold in South Africa was a momentous event in the history of the British Empire that saw some entrepreneurs amassing enormous wealth.
How these ‘Randlords’ used their wealth to try and win acceptance into the higher realms of British society is the subject of this book, with specific reference to their acquisition of famous artworks.
Of particular interest to the author is the role that art, in the eyes of the Randlords, played in establishing their respectability, and how their collections were intended to project their social view of themselves.
The text, based on highly lauded research, examines an aspect of cultural and social history pertaining to both South Africa and England that has rarely been considered.
A wealth of photographs depicts not only the works under discussion, but the Randlords themselves and the surroundings they occupied.