In Pursuit of History A Lifetime Collecting Colonial American Art and Artifacts H. Richard Dietrich, Deborah M Rebuck, David L. Barquist, Edward S. Cooke, Michael P Dyer, Kathleen A. Foster, Morrison H. Heckscher, Philip C. Mead, Lisa Minardi, William S. Reese

Publication date:
28 Jan 2020
Philadelphia Museum Distribution
304 pages: 292 x 241mm
215 color illus.
Sales territories:


A tribute to a major collection and its founder, this beautiful book illuminates life in colonial America

This book showcases highlights from the Dietrich American Foundation, established in 1963 by H. Richard Dietrich Jr. and focused on 18th-century American fine and decorative arts. Essays explore the formation of the collection and its many areas of strength, enhancing current understandings of colonial history and material culture. The volume’s coeditor, H. Richard Dietrich III, unfolds an American story of a family’s entrepreneurship and speaks to his father’s varied yet interconnected collecting interests, as well as the common threads that unified them. An array of specialists explore the scope and uncommon richness of the foundation’s holdings, of which books and manuscripts account for half. Chinese export wares, furniture, silver, fraktur, and other decorative arts, and paintings of historical importance speak in varied ways to the nature of colonial identity, while objects related to the whaling trade signal the new nation’s maritime focus. With striking new photography and insightful scholarship, In Pursuit of History brings to life both the collector and the time period that he loved.

H. Richard Dietrich III is president, and Deborah M. Rebuck is curator, both of the Dietrich American Foundation.