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"Becoming A Nation: Americana from the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State"
2003-09-26 until 2003-12-14
Fresno Metropolitan Museum
Fresno, CA, USA United States of America

The exhibition "Becoming A Nation" features the craftsmanship and artistic talent of the golden age of American decorative and fine arts, from approximately 1750 to 1825. Representing some of the best examples of American fine art and decorative arts ever produced, the exhibition includes paintings, furniture, porcelain and silver of the Colonial and Federal periods.

"Becoming A Nation" provides the visitor with outstanding examples of America's achievement in the arts between the mid 18th and early 19th centuries like the great Philadelphia high chest attributed to Joseph Deleveau, an exquisite settee by Duncan Phyfe, paintings by Copley, Stuart, Sully and C.W. Peale, silver by Paul Revere, John Le Tellier and Myer Myers, porcelain belonging to George Washington and the crest of the Society of the Cincinnati, pewter and other objects made by the best American artists and craftsman of the time, and owned by some of America's most well-known founders.

Opening a window to the economic and political development of our nation as it expanded westward, these iconic objects of American history serve as cultural markers of the growth of the United States. They also highlight another important aspect of the early republic-that America shared in the elegance and grandeur of the Age of Enlightenment. The early Americans who owned these works and the artisans who made them clearly had sophisticated aesthetics, a rational sense of function, and high technical skills. The craftsmen who shaped these objects shaped more than physical beauty. They shaped a national consciousness.

The Collection of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the United States, Department of State in Washington, D.C. was assembled in the early sixties in order to provide the Department of State with beautiful and suitable surroundings for the benefit of American diplomacy. The founding curator, Clement E. Conger, along with the assistance of his staff and individual donors formed the Collection of more than 5,000 objects encompassing 42 rooms. It is important to note that no taxpayer funds were used in assembling the Collection and its value represents the enormous generosity on the part of individual donors.

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