Luman Reed (1785-1836) is best known for his pioneering patronage of the American painters Asher B. Durand, Thomas Cole, William Sidney Mount and George Whiting Flagg. However, like many other well-to-do New Yorkers in the early 19th century, he began by collecting European art.
This small installation from about 20 European paintings that Reed owned shows his broad interests ranging from Italian religious paintings to English genre themes to Dutch masters. Reed bought most of his European paintings from the American dealer Michael Paff, who was notorious for selling old master paintings with dubious attributions. Like many of his contemporaries, Reed eventually became suspicious of the European trade and moved on to collect contemporary American art. Though most of these paintings do not bear their original attributions, they offer a fascinating record of early American collecting.