The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of American paintings is outstanding and includes many famous works. This volume, one of a series of three, documents an important collection of some 315 paintings by nearly 120 artists dating from the early eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. The museum's collection of eighteenth-century portraits and history paintings includes work by important artists such as John Smibert, Joseph Blackburn, John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, and John Trumbull. Romantic and neoclassical paintings by John Vanderlyn, Washington Allston, Thomas Sully, and Samuel F. B. Morse represent the shifting taste of artists and art patrons at the turn of the nineteenth century. The founders of the Hudson River school, Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand, along with the country's first successful genre painters, William Sidney Mount and George Caleb Bingham, are also included in this catalogue.
The paintings are arranged chronologically by the dates of the artists. A biography of each artist is included, along with bibliographical references. Every painting is illustrated and thoroughly discussed. There are references, an exhibition history, and provenance. Related works—preliminary drawings and studies, or copies, prints, and replicas—are also listed and often illustrated. The introduction provides a condensed history of American painting of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Included is a discussion of portraiture, the major art form in this country until around 1825, when ambitious artists sought to challenge themselves by painting historical scenes, landscapes, and genre pictures. The birth of America's first art academies and galleries, along with the burgeoning of art criticism, made this period a time of great progress and change in the arts. Volume I consists of paintings by artists born by 1815. Volume II includes paintings by artists born between 1816 and 1845, and Volume III has paintings by artists born between 1846 and 1865. While these books will be essential resources for scholars in the field, they will also be of value to anyone interested in American art.