Collection

Works by United States artists from the French National Collections, 1620-1940  

Patronage networks

The American artists who lived and worked in France developed a network of lasting relationships with French artists and collectors. Some of these liaisons were economic, as American patrons and collectors began to exert a stronger influence on the Parisian art world. Paul Burty Haviland, grandson of the American founder of the Limoges porcelain firm, was a painter as well as a reliable patron to artists like Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani. The collector and philanthropist Peggy Guggenheim extended support to a wide circle of American artists, going so far as to marry two of them. Painters and collectors Katherine Dreier and Hilla Rebay purchased paintings and sculpture from American artists during these years as well, laying the foundations of two remarkable collections which would eventually enrich several major American museums.

French collectors extended support to American artists as well. The curator Léonce Bénédite bought American works in significant numbers for the state collections, while the collector Jean-Antoine Injalbert commissioned paintings from American artists like Sargent and Albert Morris. The landscapist Thomas Alexander Harrison developed a mutually beneficial professional relationship with Auguste Rodin in which each artist acted as an unofficial agent, introducing the other to potential international patrons.

Some French and American artists were brought together by romance, like the painter Adeline Oppenheim and Hector Guimard, the French architect and designer whom she married in 1909. The close friendships between Anna Klumpke and Rosa Bonheur and between Romaine Brooks and Jean Cocteau were both commemorated in memorable portraits. James MacNeill Whistler wrote a memoir called The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, but his wide circle of contacts in the Parisian art world showed that he also knew how to do the opposite.

Most of the artists included in this database were born in the United States and travelled to France later in life. However, a small but significant number travelled in the opposite direction. European artists who moved to America and acquired American citizenship before 1940 include Jules Pascin, Pierre Daura, and Gaston Lachaise.