March 01, 2005 - April 30, 2005
After a two-year hiatus, the art collection formed by Luman Reed, one of New York's pioneering 19th-century collectors, reclaimed its pride of place in the picture galleries on the second floor, just off Dexter Hall from March 2004 through April 2005. Thomas Cole's "The Course of Empire" and other works by the founder of the Hudson River School took center stage, along side seminal paintings by Asher Brown Durand, William Sidney Mount and George Whiting Flagg. Luman Reed's collection occupies a special place in the development of American art; in the history of taste, collecting, and patronage; as well as in the history of New York and the New-York Historical Society. The donation of the collection in 1858, together with the holdings of The New-York Gallery of the Fine Arts, transformed the Historical Society into New York City's premiere art museum in an era before the establishment of such museum giants as the Metropolitan and the Whitney. In addition to featuring Reed's collection, the exhibition also explored the history of New York art collecting in the nineteenth century, highlighting other important art patrons, including Thomas Jefferson Bryan and Robert L. Stuart, whose collections augment the painting holdings of the Historical Society.