Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi, with the collaboration of Tony Willis Upperville, Virginia, April 2020
This beautifully illustrated book, both scholarly and accessible to all, provides a fascinating insight into the private world and intellectual passions of the renowned philanthropists Paul and Bunny Mellon through the two trompe l’oeil paintings that they commissioned for their main residence at Oak Spring, Virginia. The Mellons were avid collectors of art and rare books who also enjoyed and understood the genre of trompe l’oeil. Their two Visual Biographies reveal their personal tastes and interests as expressed through their collaborations with Martin Battersby and Fernand Reynard, two gifted European trompe l’oeil painters. Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi superbly articulates these creative partnerships, while also placing the art in context within the history of trompe l’oeil. Biographical essays by Tony Willis illuminate the lives of Paul and Bunny Mellon and the background to the paintings that they commissioned. The book’s design exquisitely showcases the lives and interests of two sophisticated connoisseurs who nurtured one of the great private art collections of the late twentieth century.