In the period between 1902 and 1924, the American attorney John Quinn accumulated approximately 2,500 paintings, drawings, and sculptures which constituted a magnificent collection of works by twentieth-century avant-garde artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Rouault, and Georges Braque. At the time of Quinn's death in 1924, the vast majority of his collection sold at auction.
Quinn experienced several phases of development as a collector, becoming more aesthetically sophisticated during his work with Henri-Pierre Roche from 1918-1924. Quinn consistently viewed the objects he sought as embodiments of cultures which offered gateways to appropriate another's culture. Through his collecting activities and association with artists, Quinn attempted to refute his small-town origins. Nevertheless, his decision not to retain the collection after his death in order to provide for his family demonstrates that Quinn never entirely disassociated himself from his roots.