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on the link between cultural appreciationand historic understanding, and it wasduring a tour of the so-called 'livingmuseums' of America's east coast -grand country houses from the Winterthurin Delaware to the Shelburne in Vermont- that they first contemplated a similarventure on this side of the Atlantic. Dr Pratt wrote: "My desire was toshare with the British the aesthetic charmof early American furniture and decorativearts and their historical background. Johnadded a concern of his own: to informthe British ... of the outstanding Americanachievements inthese arts and crafts,a subject about which he believedthem to be woefully ignorant."At the time, British notions of Americawere limited by Hollywood cliché;whichever stereotype was touted in thelatest cinematic release. But Americahad become more self-reflective in itstastes, thanks to a renewed nostalgiaamong its elite for the "folk art" of thepast. Buyers such as Electra HavemeyerWebb, Henry Francis du Pont and MrsJohn D Rockefeller began snapping uppieces in the 1920s, creating a marketfor work previously sidelined as "amateur"."When we talk about folk art, theemphasis in Britain is still very much onthe 'folk'," says gallery curator LauraBeresford. "In America, it's always beenabout the art." The golden age of Prattand Judkyn's collection spans from thelate-18th to the mid-19th century, aperiod before the Civil War when a"middling class" was emerging with theincome and desire for a more comfortablelife, but the skill and economy to makeends meet in creative ways. Theirhandiwork, says Beresford, was art "ofthe people, by the people, for the people".To walk into the Folk Art Gallery is tosee this concept come alive. The redwalls of what was once ClavertonManor's neoclassical picture gallery arenow filled with more than 100 objects ofevery shape, size - and use. In thecentre of the room stand four ornateweather vanes. A fleet of wooden birddecoys ascend either side. Here areship mastheads, shop signs, even apainted scarecrow - each beautifullycrafted while utilitarian to the core. Thereare portraits, too, a whole wall of thempainted in the "naïve" style, using blocksof flat colour instead of layers oftranslucent glaze. They include a NewEngland gentleman, a pretty marriedcouple and a pair of children dressed REVIEW / SUMMER 201137Clockwise:Baltimore albumquilt; Decoy ducks;Shakercandlestand Below:The Folk ArtGallery is filled with objects of every shape and size AMERICAN MUSEUMImages: Courtesy of The American Museum in Britain / Marilyn Monroe items kindly loaned from the David Gainsborough Roberts Collection