The history of American taste is a fascinating subject which is only now receiving the attention it properly deserves: added stimulus to unraveling the skeins comes from the realization that in many respects American collectors and patrons were pioneers in their appreciation of modern art. Some indication of this rapid response to contemporary movements is provided by the experiences in Paris of the American painters John Trumbull and John Vanderlyn, both of whom knew Jacques-Louis David.

The American relationship with France has been a long and fruitful one and, as barely requires mentioning, increased during the war with England when the young Republic was allied with France. This is an alliance symbolized by Houdon’s famous statue of George Washington. The love of French art was also reflected in the furniture acquired by Gouverneur Morris and Colonel Swan, and it is one that has continued...


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