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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
As Corcoran Director Fred Bollerer notes in his foreword, this volume is the first "in nearly half a century to extensively research, document, and interpret" a vital collection of American art "comprising more than five hundred objects dating from 1718 to 1945." Sarah Cash's opening essay provides an illuminating biography on William Wilson Corcoran and his vision to "encourage American genius" that essentially put Washington DC on the artistic map. Cash also outlines the growth of the Corcoran in terms of acquisitions, biennial expositions, and expansion, including the opening of the Corcoran School of Art in 1890. This essay is followed by in-depth examinations of 102 paintings judged by the editor to be the most important in the collection. These descriptions generally include a bit about the artist and their place in the history of American art, how he/she came to create that particular painting, and how the Corcoran managed to acquire it. Some of the most treasured pieces include Frederic Edwin Church's Niagara, Mary Cassatt's Young Girl at a Window, and Winslow Homer's A Light on the Sea. The collection also features a few abstract pieces like Aaron Douglas's remarkable Into Bondage. Quality reproductions of the paintings range in size from two-page spreads to quarter-page images surrounded by text; occasionally the frame is included (and welcomed). This is a truly beautiful book that will excite fans of American art.
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