Gustave Courbet s 1854 painting The Meeting (also known as Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet!) depicts his greatest patron, Alfred Bruyas (1821 1877), welcoming the artist to his hometown of Montpellier, in the south of France. As one of the foremost collectors of contemporary art in France, Bruyas s tastes ranged from romanticism to realism, and he collected both traditional and what was then avant garde art. This beautifully illustrated book features ninety four works from Bruyas s celebrated collection, including nine masterpieces by Courbet as well as important paintings, drawings, and sculptures by such leading French artists of the period as Delacroix, Ingres, G ricault, Millet, Corot, Rousseau, and Barye. The accompanying texts examine Bruyas s role as one of the few mid nineteenth century private collectors of contemporary art and the significance of his patronage of living artists as well as the well known but little scrutinized relationship between Bruyas and Courbet. A newly discovered critique of the renowned collection, written by the influential artist Paul Signac some twenty years after Bruyas s death, is also presented.Sarah Lees is assistant curator of paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.This book is the catalogue for an exhibition organized by FRAME (French Regional and American Museum Exchange) on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond (March 26 to June 13, 2004), the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts (June 27 to September 6, 2004), the Dallas Museum of Art (October 17, 2004, to January 2, 2005) and to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (January 22 to April 3, 2005).