America and the Art of Flanders

Collecting Paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Their Circles

Edited by Esmée Quodbach

Hardback - £55.95

Publication date:

09 October 2020

Length of book:

248 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271086088

The United States possesses extraordinary holdings of seventeenth-century Flemish paintings. In this pioneering and richly illustrated volume, twelve scholars and museum curators reveal the origins of these collections by examining the American approach to and interest in the collecting of Flemish art over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Chronicling in lively detail the roles played by individuals in forming private and public collections, the essays in this volume illuminate how and why collectors and museums in the United States embraced the Flemish masters with such enthusiasm. They trace how the taste for specific genres and the appreciation for certain artists, in particular Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, changed over the years, and they explore the historical and cultural motivations behind these trends. In doing so, they consider the effect of the great bequests of Flemish paintings to American museums and examine the private collections of the main tastemakers for Flemish painting, including the Baltimore merchant Robert Gilmor; John Graver Johnson, the leading corporate lawyer of the Gilded Age; and the California oil magnate J. Paul Getty. Gorgeously illustrated with almost one hundred representative pieces, this important contribution to the scholarship on American collecting of Flemish art will interest art lovers and stimulate further research in the fields of art history and museum history.

In addition to the editor, the contributors include Ronni Baer, Adam Eaker, Lance Humphries, George S. Keyes, Margaret R. Laster, Alexandra Libby, Louisa Wood Ruby, Dennis P. Weller, Arthur K. Wheelock, Marjorie Wieseman, and Anne T. Woollett.

America and the Art of Flanders is yet another excellent volume in an already impressive series on the history of collecting in the United States. It investigates the changing interest in Flemish art over time—and what happens when private love of art becomes institutional collecting. It also deals with many different American museum collections as part of a greater national collection. This is rarely done, and it is great food for thought.”

—Peter Hecht, Professor Emeritus of Art History, Utrecht University, the Netherlands