Robert and Mildred Bliss were among the first American collectors to focus their efforts on Byzantine art. With the establishment of the Center for Byzantine Studies and the museum at Dumbarton Oaks, the Bliss family catalyzed Byzantine art history.
This exhibition examines the ways in which 19th-century collections and illustrated catalogs impacted the study and appreciation of early Christian, Byzantine, and medieval “minor arts” before the Bliss family began its collections.
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In 18th-century Europe, many antiquarians, collectors, and scholars held negative attitudes towards post-classical art, influenced by Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s monumental...