Review by Choice Review
This ambitious and lavishly illustrated book, published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title at the Frick Art & Historical Center, consists of six essays that map the contours of art patronage among the city's elite. One leitmotif of the essays is that art collecting involved a large group of Pittsburgh's industrial elite, not just Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick, and that the holdings attest to greater sophistication in taste than is generally attributed to Pittsburgh's residents. Another is the overwhelmingly conservative pattern of collecting, which focused on Barbizon and modern French paintings to the virtual exclusion of old masters, probably because of the large number of fakes then on the market, and on modern movements beginning with Impressionism. Similarly neglected was American art. The search for an artistic mainstream, exhibition curator Gabriel P. Weisberg notes in the most important essay in the catalog, was an attempt to assert correct taste on the part of a culturally insecure group. The art the Pittsburgh elite collected was also a response to charges of parochialism. This is a valuable assessment of American taste around the turn of the 20th century. General; upper-division undergraduate and above. D. Schuyler; Franklin and Marshall College
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