303 pages, B/w photos& Illus
An account of a remarkable fifty-year relationship: Dwight Ripley, the child heir to an American railroad fortune, and Rupert Barneby, the product of a wealthy, baronial English upbringing, shared an obsession with botany from the moment they met at an exclusive boys' boarding school in England. Together they embarked on a lifelong pursuit of rare plants, first in Europe and then in the United States, where they migrated in the late 1930s. Every spring they explored the American Southwest in a sputtering Dodge, discovering new species and cultivating the spoils at their renowned home gardens. Barneby published so many taxonomic findings that he became a world authority on legumes. But the two men had other interests as well: they were intimates in the expatriate circles that included W. H. Auden and Peggy Guggenheim, and early collectors of painters such as Jackson Pollock and Joan Miro. Ripley, a prescient artist himself, whose startling work in coloured pencil was lost in a trunk for several decades before being rediscovered, used his fortune to bankroll much of the avant-garde art scene of the early 1950s. This book offers not just the brilliantly told story of "both," but a vivid portrait of the bohemian postwar period they inhabited, bristling with the energy of the new.
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