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Cover for the book Holland’s Golden Age in America

Holland’s Golden Age in America

Collecting the Art of Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals Edited by Esmée Quodbach
“This book provides answers for anyone who has ever wondered why there are so many great Dutch paintings in U.S. collections. Essays by leading curators and scholars draw on the history of art, as well as an understanding of cultural, economic, and political conditions, to illuminate the American taste for seventeenth-century Dutch painting.”
“Drawing on the experience and insights of many of her colleagues in museums and the academy, Esmée Quodbach brings us an impressively broad overview of the early collectors of Dutch art in America. This essential volume provides illuminating context for major figures such as J. P. Morgan and welcomes unsung heroes such as Robert Gilmor, Jr., onto this stage, but also lifts the curtain on early colonial as well as contemporary collections. These varied accounts are spiked with color, drama, and highlights, including the story of the wealthy collector who has to ask, ‘Who is Vermeer?’”
“Americans esteem Dutch art for its portrayal of the apparent reality of everyday life, unpretentious and tidy citizenry, and seemingly naturalistic landscapes and seascapes. This beautiful volume of authoritative essays on the collecting of Dutch art is not only for specialists but also for general readers, who will find many familiar names of businessmen who were the founders or enrichers of American museums. Foremost among these are the National Gallery, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as privately founded galleries—the Frick, the Morgan, and the Getty. Among the many topics discussed are the early presence of Dutch paintings in New Netherland, parallel appreciation for Vermeer and American painters of interiors, European-born scholars and dealers who helped shape American appreciation for the arts, the rivalry among collectors for the acquisition of declared masterpieces, and the usefulness and value of painted and printed copies for display and instruction. The acquisition of Dutch art is as much about the art as it is about social history.”

Americans have long had a taste for the art and culture of Holland’s Golden Age. As a result, the United States can boast extraordinary holdings of Dutch paintings. Celebrated masters such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, and Frans Hals are exceptionally well represented, but many fine paintings by their contemporaries can be found as well. In this groundbreaking volume, fourteen noted American and Dutch scholars examine the allure of seventeenth-century Dutch painting to Americans over the past centuries. The authors of Holland’s Golden Age in America explain in lively detail why and how American collectors as well as museums turned to the Dutch masters to enrich their collections. They examine the role played by Dutch settlers in colonial America and their descendants, the evolution of American appreciation of the Dutch school, the circumstances that led to the Dutch school swiftly becoming one of the most coveted national schools of painting, and, finally, the market for Dutch pictures today.Richly illustrated, this volume is an invaluable contribution to the scholarship on the collecting history of Dutch art in America, and it is certain to inspire further research.

In addition to the editor, the contributors are Ronni Baer, Quentin Buvelot, Lloyd DeWitt, Peter Hecht, Lance Humphries, Walter Liedtke, Louisa Wood Ruby, Catherine B. Scallen, Annette Stott, Peter C. Sutton, Dennis P. Weller, Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., and Anne T. Woollett.

Esmée Quodbach is Assistant Director of the Center for the History of Collecting at The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library in New York.


List of Illustrations


Esmée Quodbach

Introduction: A Taste for Dutch Art

Peter C. Sutton

Part I

The Early Years: The Formation of America’s Taste for Dutch Art

1 “Pictures chiefly painted in oils, on boards”: Dutch Paintings in Colonial New York

Louisa Wood Ruby

2 Robert Gilmor, Jr.’s “Real” Dutch Paintings

Lance Humphries

3 Collecting Old Dutch Masters: Originals, Interpretations, Copies, and Reproductions

Annette Stott

4 Wilhelm von Bode and Collecting in America

Catherine B. Scallen

Part II

The Gilded Age: Great Collections and Collectors of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art

5 Golden Age Paintings in the Gilded Age: New York Collectors and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1870–1920

Walter Liedtke

6 “They leave us as they find us, they never elevate”: John G. Johnson and the Dutch Masters

Lloyd DeWitt

7 Collecting Vermeer, 1887–1919

Esmée Quodbach

8 Collecting Dutch Paintings in Boston

Ronni Baer

9 The Dutch Painting Collection at the National Gallery of Art

Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr.

Part III

The Twentieth Century: The Dissemination of Dutch Art Across America and the Dutch Reaction

10 The Passionate Eye of W. R. Valentiner: Shaping the Canon of Dutch Painting in America

Dennis P. Weller

11 Unexpected Rivals for the Dutch: Competing with the Americans for Holland’s National Heritage in Great Britain and Elsewhere

Peter Hecht

12 Golden Opportunities: Collecting Rembrandt in Southern California

Anne T. Woollett

13 Has the Great Age of Collecting Dutch Old Master Paintings Come to an End?

Quentin Buvelot


List of Contributors


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