When French revolutionaries sacked royal holdings at the end of the 18th century, they began the largest transfer of artistic goods in world history. By 1850 many "repossessed" treasures had come to rest in a new institution, the public museum, where they were assigned educational tasks. Anne Higonnet's book begins at this turning point in the history of art, but it looks instead at another new institution, the collection museum. Emerging in London with the Wallace Collection, the collection museum spread rapidly in Gilded Age America. To the discontent of many Europeans, cash-flush Americans like J.P. Morgan and Henry Clay Frick went on collecting campaigns that netted masterpiece after masterpiece, along with the furniture and fittings of dozens of aristocratic residences.From the outset, these collectors planned to present their trophies to the public as museums in which they could dictate each and every detail of the arrangements. Drawing on a decade of research, Higonnet weaves letters, auction records and photographs into an engrossing account of the founding of both renowned and obscure collection museums. She also explores how these collectors stoked the tremendous values accorded paintings by Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velazquez, Gainsborough and Reynolds.