The Evolution of Taste in American Collecting by René BrimoThe Evolution of Taste in American Collecting by René Brimo

The Evolution of Taste in American Collecting

byRené BrimoEdited and translated byKenneth Haltman

Hardcover | December 5, 2016

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The Evolution of Taste in American Collecting is a new critical translation of René Brimo’s classic study of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century patronage and art collecting in the United States. Originally published in French in 1938, Brimo’s foundational text is a detailed examination of collecting in America from colonial times to the end of World War I, when American collectors came to dominate the European art market. This work helped shape the then-fledgling field of American art history by explaining larger cultural transformations as manifested in the collecting habits of American elites. It remains the most substantive account of the history of collecting in the United States.

In his introduction, Kenneth Haltman provides a biographical study of the author and his social and intellectual milieu in France and the United States. He also explores how Brimo’s work formed a turning point and initiated a new area of academic study: the history of art collecting.

Making accessible a text that has until now only been available in French, Haltman’s elegant translation of The Evolution of Taste in American Collecting sheds new critical light on the essential work of this extraordinary but overlooked scholar.

René Brimo (1911–1948) was an antiquarian dealer and a graduate of the École du Louvre, as well as a recipient of master’s degrees from Harvard and the Sorbonne and a docteur ès lettres from the University of Paris.Kenneth Haltman is H. Russell Pitman Professor of Art History at the University of Oklahoma and the author of many books, ...
Title:The Evolution of Taste in American CollectingFormat:HardcoverDimensions:424 pages, 10 × 7 × 1.42 inPublished:December 5, 2016Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271073241

ISBN - 13:9780271073248

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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments ix

Making Sense of an Unusual Contribution to Art History 1

Notes 67

Kenneth Haltman

The Evolution of Taste in American Collecting 85

René Brimo

Preface 87

Introduction 89

Book 1:

Early Developments: From the Colonial Period to the

Philadelphia Centennial

Part 1: Colonial America

Looking Backward 96

Part 2: Science or Sentiment

[Historical Introduction, 1776–1840] 107

1 Encyclopedic Spirit 111

2 The Search for a National Style 121

Part 3: The Critical Era

[Historical Introduction, 1840–1876] 131

1 TheTaste for Anecdote and Realism 135

2 The Discovery of History 151

Book 2:

The Triumph of Quality: Major Collections from the Philadelphia Centennial to the Great War

[Historical Introduction, 1876–1919] 166

1 Eclecticism 171

2 The Notion of the “Old Master” 195

3 The Vogue for Archaeology and “Pre-History” 226

4 Staying in Touch with the Contemporary Scene 255

5 The Modern Art Museum 272

Conclusion 294

Notes 301

Bibliography 344


Editorial Reviews

“Brimo’s book is a remarkable, groundbreaking investigation of America’s evolving artistic tastes, a compendium of collectors—individual and institutional—and the cultural backdrops for their interests, an early history of museums in America, and a comprehensive overview of the literature of American art up to his time. Haltman’s translation makes this significant scholarly achievement more widely available and, thanks to his judicious editorial interventions, more reliable. His introduction brings to light—and to life—an intriguing personality.”—Carol Troyen,