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Wilmerding, John

    Full Name: Wilmerding, John

    Other Names:

    • John Currie Wilmerding

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1938

    Place Born: Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): American (North American)

    Career(s): art collectors and curators


    Collector and curator of American art; senior curator from 1977 to 1983 at the National Gallery of Art, Washgington, D. C., and deputy director from 1983 to 1988. Wilmerding’s great-grandparents, Henry Osborne Havemeyer (1847-1907) and Louisine Waldron Elder (Havemeyer) (1855-1929), [Havemeyer’s second wife] were high-profile collectors of European and oriental art which they bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. A daughter of the Havemeyers, Electra Havemeyer Webb (1889-1960), a collector of American folk art and sculpture, was Wilmerding’s grandmother. His parents were banker John Currie Wilmerding (1911-1965) and Lila Vanderbilt Webb (Wilmerding). Wilmerding attended Harvard, receiving his A. B. in 1960, his masters in 1961 and his Ph.D., in 1965. In the 1970s, Wilmerding was commissioned to author one of the later volumes in the prestigious Pelican History of Art series on American Art (1976), a volume originally offered to Alfred H. Barr, Jr., to write, but Barr declined. In 1977 Wilmerding was appointed curator of American Art, which he held in a senior capacity until 1983. That year he was appointed to deputy director of the Gallery, which he held until 1988. Wilmerding is currently the Christopher Binyon Sarofim Professor of American Art, Princeton University. He is also a visiting curator in the department of American art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was named trustee emeritus of the Shelburne Museum in Vermont (where his grandmother’s collection is principally housed). He is a member of the boards of trustees of the Guggenheim Museum, New York and the College of the Atlantic in Maine. He is currently on advisory boards or committees for Smithsonian Studies in American Art, the Archives of American Art, Harvard University Art Museums. He serves on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation:] A History of American Marine Painting up to the Age of Steam. Harvard, 1965; American Art. Pelican History of Art 40. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.


    American Masters from Bingham to Eakins: The John Wilmerding Collection.


    "Wilmerding, John." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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