American Painting

George Caleb Bingham (American, 1811–1879), Boatmen on the Missouri (detail), 1846. Oil on canvas. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd. 1979.7.15

The de Young's American Art Department is home to one of the finest survey collections of American paintings in the United States. Strengthened by the acquisition of the Rockefeller Collection of American Art, the de Young's holdings include more than 1000 paintings ranging from 1670 to the present day.

While essentially chronological, the installation of American art at the de Young juxtaposes works from different cultures and time periods to emphasize the historical connections between works in the collection, and includes galleries devoted to art in the following areas: Native American and Spanish Colonial; Anglo-Colonial; Federal and Neoclassical; Victorian genre and realism; trompe l’oeil still life; the Hudson River School, Barbizon and Tonalism; Impressionism and the Ashcan School; Arts and Crafts; Modernism; Social Realism and American Scene; Surrealism and Abstraction; Beat, Pop and Figurative; and contemporary. Also featured are important California collections with national significance, including examples of Spanish colonial, Arts and Crafts, Bay Area Figurative, and Assemblage art.

In conjunction with the Bothin Library and department research files, the Katharine Hanrahan American Art Study Center is the most important research center for American art on the West Coast. Since 1991, the American Art Department has also housed a set of the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art microfilm collection.