It is hard now to imagine a world in which reproductions of paintings were scarce ([Charles Eliot] Norton taught his art history classes [at Harvard] without them) and in which cities rarely had public collections of paintings (those that did exist contained almost no original Italian works).
Americans, for the vast majority of whom travel to Europe was prohibitively time-consuming and expensive, got their first introductions to Italian art by reading.
Berenson would aspire to follow Charles Eliot Norton in being, not only a lover of art and a bibliophile, but a friend of writers and a literary man.
Norton was close to John Ruskin, one of the English writers most responsible for the new view of Italian art that emerged among certain writers in the mid-nineteenth century.
Rachel,Cohen. Bernard Berenson (Jewish Lives) (p. 42). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.