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Frederick Layton (1827–1919) was among the very first art collectors in America to fund a purpose-built civic art gallery for the public's use and enjoyment. Second only to the 1874 Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the 1888 Layton Art Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, presented a new model for the single-patron art museum in America, one significantly different from the established museums of Boston and New York. Frederick Layton and his British architect George Audsley developed a new vision for a more intimate art museum experience. They drew upon their knowledge of English precedents to create a refined, single-story, top-lit, urban gallery that would influence the development of the American art museum well into the twentieth century.

The Layton Art Gallery

The Layton Art Gallery

Layton's Legacy draws on a recently discovered archive of Layton family papers, travel journals, and vintage photographs and on five years of extensive archival research in the United States and Great Britain. John C. Eastberg traces the trajectory of the collection's development from its English origins through its grand European acquisitions, Gilded Age art auctions in New York, Progressive-era renovations, postwar deaccessions, and demolition of the original gallery, all leading to a new era of curatorial innovation and major American art acquisitions at the end of the twentieth century. Eric Vogel looks more closely at the architectural history of the original Layton Art Gallery and its influence on the continuing lineage of the single-patron art museum.

Interior of the Layton Art Gallery, ca. 1900, Wisconsin Historical Society.

Interior of the Layton Art Gallery, ca. 1900, Wisconsin Historical Society.

The catalogue also documents and depicts over forty masterpieces of American and European art including Eastman Johnson, Winslow Homer, Frederick Church, Thomas Cole, Bastien Lepage, William Bourguereau, James Tissot, Frederic Leighton, and Alma Tadema, among many others. With short essays from eminent 19th century scholars, Dianne Macleod and Giles Waterfield, as well as object entries from over twenty scholars of painting, furniture and decorative art, Layton’s Legacy: A Historic American Art Collection presents the first fully illustrated catalogue to document the entire 125 year history of the Layton Collection and to acknowledge its formative place in the development of the American art museum.

 

Publication date: July 2013
Binding: Jacketed cloth
Page count: 480
Illustration count: 708 color and b/w illus.
Trim size: 10.5 x 12.5
ISBN: 978-0-982-38101-4
Price: $75.00

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