Not unlike their European forebears, Americans have historically held Italian Renaissance paintings in the highest possible regard, never allowing works by or derived from Raphael, Leonardo, or Titian to fall from favor. The ten essays in A Market for Merchant Princes trace the progression of American collectors’ taste for Italian Renaissance masterpieces from the antebellum era, through the Gilded Age, to the later twentieth century.
By focusing variously on issues of supply and demand, reliance on advisers, the role of travel, and the civic-mindedness of American collectors from the antebellum years through the post–World War II era, the authors bring alive the passions of individual collectors while chronicling the development of their increasingly sophisticated sensibilities. In almost every case, the collectors on whom these essays concentrate founded institutions that would make the art they had acquired accessible to the public, such as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Morgan Library and Museum, the Walters Art Gallery, The Frick Collection, and the John and Mable Ringling Museum.
The contributors to the volume are Jaynie Anderson, Andrea Bayer, Edgar Peters Bowron, Virginia Brilliant, David Alan Brown, Clay M. Dean, Frederick Ilchman, Tiffany Johnston, Stanley Mazaroff, and Jennifer Tonkovich.