Terra Foundation for American Art Collection

Begun by Daniel J. Terra in the 1970s and growing to this day, the Terra Foundation’s collection of American art spans the colonial era through 1945 and includes more than seven hundred paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and sculptures.

William Merritt Chase, Hall at Shinnecock, 1892

Search Collection Online

The Terra Foundation’s collection is comprised of approximately 725 paintings and works on paper by American artists, ranging in date from 1740 to 1945, that reflects the rich artistic and cultural heritage of the United States. The collection is an inextricable part of the Foundation’s history and an active agent of its mission. For these reasons, we continue to acquire works of art to complement the collection begun by Daniel J. Terra nearly four decades ago. The extensive online information about collection objects is drawn from the Foundation’s database and is designed to benefit both the art enthusiast and the scholar. Among the important information provided for each artwork is the full “tombstone” data (title, date, medium, dimensions, and inscriptions) as well as provenance, exhibition history, and published references.  A brief biography is provided for each of the 235 artists represented in the collection. Finally, an interpretive essay for each artwork summarizes information found in the Foundation’s curatorial files, facilitating research for scholars and offering contextual information for the general user.  Please address questions and comments to

John Marin, Sailboat, Brooklyn Bridge, New York Skyline, 1934

Objects in Depth

The Terra Foundation’s staff conducts research on collection objects; employs advanced conservation practices to maintain the objects; and, at times, acquires works of art that add new dimensions to the collection. Features in this section take a closer look at selected objects, reflecting ongoing scholarly inquiry and conservation research. “Recent Acquisitions” shares news of additions to the collection. “Objects in Depth” examines particular artworks or groups of objects in relation to technique, attribution, provenance, exhibition history, and related works. “Conservation Notes” documents treatment and ongoing research utilizing infrared imaging, radiography, and other investigative tools for understanding artists’ techniques and the physical condition of individual objects. New information will be added to the website as research continues. We invite your feedback. Please address questions and comments to

William Jewett, The Promised Land – The Grayson Family, 1850

Terra Collection Initiatives

Ranging from the colonial era to 1945, the collection of the Terra Foundation for American Art offers a window onto America’s past. It presents the story of the nation through the eyes of its artists and the history of critical reception and patronage. Terra Collection Initiatives, developed by the Foundation’s curatorial staff in concert with institutional partners, are collaborative exhibitions and programs that further scholarship on the Foundation’s collection and make significant contributions to the study of historic American art. Collaborations vary in nature. They may involve extensive participation, such as co-organization of exhibitions using works of art from the Foundation’ collection and other loans when appropriate; limited involvement, including partnerships; or with the partner institution serving as a lender (loan plus funding). The goal of Terra Collection Initiatives is to inspire cross-cultural dialogue on and new ways of thinking about American art, utilizing the Foundation’s collection as the basis for both scholarly interpretation and contextualized presentation.