Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 3-28-2022


Epp, Breanna. The Woman Behind the Whitney. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2022


Copyright Breanna Epp 2022.


Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney was the founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as a prominent sculptor and patron to artists in the early 1900s. Her art collection was the largest of American art at the time, and she led the nation into an appreciation of its own native art. Native in this context specifically means any art that was made in America, not strictly art made by the indigenous people of the Americas. Tackling her entire life, from growing up in the Vanderbilt family to her death, I provide an overview of her interactions with the art world and touch on the important milestones of her life. In this paper, I will talk about how Gertrude became inspired to support American artists, through her collection and patronage, how her collection grew into a museum, and how the Whitney would affect American art and support modern artists.