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Andrew W. Mellon: Collecting for the Nation

David Cannadine, director and professor, Institute of Historical Research, University of London To celebrate the landmark publication Mellon: An American Life, David Cannadine inaugurated and concluded his U.S. book tour at the National Gallery of Art with lectures on the founding benefactor of the Gallery, Andrew W. Mellon (1855-1937). In this second lecture recorded on December 9, 2006, Cannadine concentrates on Mellon's art collecting as his only nonprofessional gratification, and his great gift of the Gallery to the nation. His son Paul Mellon commissioned this biography in the mid-1990s to document the magnitude and range of his father's contributions to American history. Preeminent in the diverse fields of business, politics, art collecting, and philanthropy, Mellon was one of the greatest art collectors and philanthropists of his generation. According to Cannadine, the Gallery remains Mellon's culminating and most tangible legacy, although he did not live to see its completion and dedication on March 17, 1941.