An American Odyssey is the story of Jonathan Westervelt Warner, entrepreneur, art collector, and philanthropist. The grandson of Herbert Westervelt, inventor of the EZ Opener brown-paper grocery bag and founder of Gulf States Paper Corporation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and the son of Mildred Westervelt Warner, former president of Gulf States and prominent American businesswomen, Jack Warner has kept alive his family's practices of business management and of good works and has also initiated a new tradition: since 1970 he has assembled an exceptional collection of American fine and decorative arts from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.
Warner's is a personal collection, and the various works respond to his special interests and obsessions, especially all aspects of America's history and heritage. The Mildred Warner House both pays tribute to his mother and houses a collection of furniture and other decorative arts by such noted craftspeople as Duncan Phyfe, Paul Revere, and Charles-Honoré Lannuier. George Washington, a personal hero of Warner's since his student days at Washington and Lee University, is honored in an assembly of painted and sculpted portraits.
Yet it is the paintings, dating from the end of the eighteenth century to the end of the twentieth, that form the heart of the collection. Magnificent portrait, landscape, and history paintings from a roster of America's finest artists -- Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Frederic E. Church, Asher B. Durand, Thomas Cole, Sanford Gifford, Edward Hicks, Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, William Sidney Mount, John Singer Sargent, and James McNeill Whistler -- tell a story not only of America but of American art. Likewise, this volume tells the story not only of an extraordinary collection of American art but of an equally extraordinary collector and his American odyssey.