||Founded in Hartford, Connecticut, more than 150 years ago, the Wadsworth Atheneum is the oldest continuously operating public art museum in the United States, and it contains one of the most important collections of American art anywhere. Each work in its world-renowned collection of American paintings is reproduced in this gorgeously illustrated two-volume set, including masterworks by nearly every leading artist of the seventeenth through twentieth centuries. Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser tells the extraordinary history of the museum, offers informative biographies of both famous and obscure artists, and provides comprehensive entries on each painting. The story of the nineteenth-century private collectors who established the public collections, the contemporary artists who influenced the selection of paintings, and the unusual acquisitions in the first half of the twentieth century renders a fascinating profile of cultural development in the United States. The Atheneum`s holdings of more than 550 American paintings, with outstanding Hudson River school landscapes and an especially rich representation of Connecticut artists, began with museum founder Daniel Wadsworth`s donation of his private collection of American landscapes. Later gifts included the post-Civil War picture gallery left by Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt, widow of the inventor-manufacturer Samuel Colt. This beautiful catalogue enables even those who cannot visit the museum to enjoy the fine collection of the American wing."These volumes are an important contribution to the literature on the history of American painting and to the study of patronage and culture. Elizabeth Kornhauser has made excellent use of rich material."--Linda S. Ferber, The Brooklyn MuseumElizabeth Mankin Kornhauser is curator of American paintings, sculpture, and drawings at the Wadsworth Atheneum and author of Ralph Earl: The Face of the Young Republic, published by Yale University Press. Copublished with the Wadsworth Atheneum.