Armand Hammer began collecting art in the 1920s with the purpose of decorating his Moscow home. At first, he collected with his brother, Victor Hammer. Following their return to the US, the brothers established the Hammer Galleries in New York City. Always the businessman, Hammer added to his inventory by collecting individual objects and through the acquisition of large collections (such as the entire collection of Charles Russell).

Peter Paul Rubens

In 1958, Hammer showed his collection at the Municipal Art Gallery in Los Angeles, and at several other institutions around the country. He announced his intention to donate it to a public institution and ultimately bestowed the collection on the University of Southern California. Hammer donated to USC Fisher Museum of Art, personally and through the Armand Hammer Foundation (founded 1968) a collection of 48 works by Dutch, Flemish, German, and Italian masters of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries. Of note, the collection includes works by Gerard Dou, Peter Paul Rubens, Willem Buytewech, Anthony van Dyck, the Brueghels, the Ruisdaels, Henri met de Bles, and Pieter de Hooch.