aesthetic category associated with ideas of awe, intensity ruggedness, terror, and vastness emphasizing Man's relative insignificance in the face of Nature, arousing emotions, and stimulating the imagination. It was therefore distinct from the Beautiful and the Picturesque, and was of profound importance in relation to an appreciation of the grandeur and violence of natural phenomena. Its chief apologists were Edmund Burke (1729-97), with his A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1756), and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), with his Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (1764). In architecture the Sublime was associated with great size, overwhelming scale, the primitive (especially the unadorned Doric Order), and stereometrical purity (as in much Neo-Classicism, e.g. Boul-lée's work, and the visions of gaols by Piranesi). Painter, printmaker, photographer, and educator. Through his book Composition (1899) and his systematic teaching methods, he encouraged individual expression within an aesthetic of simplicity, harmony, and reverence for natural form. In the process, he significantly enlarged the scope of decorative sources available to artists and artisans in the United States. He particularly drew on Japanese principles of design in formulating his emphasis on line, color, and equilibrium between light and dark masses. While contributing to the Arts and Crafts movement, his efforts also spurred development of modernist ideas about the priority of abstract form and pictorial structure. An idealist, he believed that beauty, the mark of art's spiritual value, could be realized in any medium and should become part of everyday life within reach of a wide public. n 1822 self-portrait by the American painter Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827). It depicts the 81-year-old artist posed in Peale's Museum, then occupying the second floor of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The nearly life-size painting is in the collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.There are three spaces in the work. The foreground of the painting depicts in low light some natural objects of the museum. At the front left, a dead wild turkey sits with Peale's taxidermic tools, brought back by his son Titian and waiting to join the collection to reveal its meaning as a national symbol. Another American symbol, the bald eagle, is higher on the left edge of the canvas, mounted by Peale—"the strength of the Eagles Eye is really astonishing"—and is now one of his few surviving specimens. On the extreme left is an early donation: a paddlefish from the Allegheny River in an upright case, marked "With this article the Museum commenced, June, 1784". To Peale's left lie the bones of a mastodon; the assembled skeleton that shows from behind the curtain was the museum's main attraction. Peale had unearthed and reconstructed a mastodon in 1800, an event he chronicled in his 1806 painting Exhuming the First American Mastodon (left). The artist's palette and brushes to his left contribute to the autobiographical statement.
The middle ground highlights Peale. In the painting, the artist invites the viewer into his museum; he pulls back a draped crimson curtain, which divides the painting's space, to reveal the collection. He used a similar motif on the printed acknowledgments he sent to museum donors, on which a curtain labeled "Nature" is held back to reveal a landscape with animals. According to critic David C. Ward, the positioning of Peale "has the effect of creating a dialectic between life and art, painter and audience, the individual and American culture at large, and finally past and present. The figure of Peale bridges these realms ... further drawing attention to and heightening the impact of his creativity."
The deep background behind the curtain gives the portrait its unique significance. Peale collected thousands of specimens of birds and other animals for his museum by soliciting donations or hunting them himself. The museum's receding shelves display animal species organized by Linnaean classification, and above them are portraits of revolutionary heroes and other notable Americans, whose placement suggests the position of humans in the great chain of being. Peale believed that physiognomy, whether of humans in portraits or of animal specimens, provided insight into character. To Peale, the behavior of animals served as a model for a moral, productive, and socially harmonious society. In the far background a child represents posterity benefiting from the museum's lessons in natural history. Likewise the woman nearer to the foreground represents the museum's power to inspire feelings of awe and wonder in the face of the sublime. Yet as the space recedes, so does Peale's life and the intellectual and scientific culture of the time—the American Enlightenment.
Lilly Martin Spencer's The Artist and Her Family at a Fourth of July Picnic depicts an idyllic genre scene in which well-dressed, middle-class Americans celebrate their country's independence by eating, drinking, and entertaining one another.
The painter's husband, Benjamin, sprawls on the ground at the center of the scene, his weight apparently too much for the tree swing. Though most of the assembled crowd seems highly amused by his fall, a child attempts to help him up. A woman with arms outstretched, an image of the artist herself, comes to his aid from the left.
On one level, this painting is exactly what it seems: a charming scene that pokes fun at human foibles. However, recent scholarship has suggested that Spencer's painting is also an allegorical commentary on the state of the nation and the abolition of slavery. According to this interpretation, Benjamin's undignified pose and the general merriment that greets his accident indicate a lack of respect for traditional authority.
Additionally, the black male servant at the right distractedly pours a glass of wine onto a white woman's dress; his female counterpart looks away from the baby in her charge; a boy shoots a pistol into the air; and a young woman models a soldier's cap. All of these vignettes can be read as symbols of societal upheaval.
painted by the Baltimore artist Richard Caton Woodville. It was exhibited at the American Art-Union in New York in 1849 to great acclaim, then distributed across the country as a large-edition print.
Only the title reveals the cause of the excitement in the painting. The newspaper held by the central figure on the porch has brought important though undisclosed news about the war then being fought between the United States and Mexico. The dramatic reading takes place on the simple, somewhat dilapidated porch of a local gathering place, identified by the sign on the gable as the "American Hotel." Metaphorically, this building represents the United States, a sheltering, though often dysfunctional, nexus of politics, camaraderie and dissent.
Off the porch to one side are a seated black man and a young black girl, presumably the man's daughter. The plain working clothes of the man and the pathetically tattered dress of the girl are indicative of life at a barely subsistence level. While at rest, they have been distracted by the commotion on the porch. They listen attentively but impassively as the news is received by its intended audience.
The ambiguous social and legal status of the black man and child at this crucial point in the country's history is signaled by their position in the painting. On the one hand, they are foregrounded in the space closest to the viewer and are illuminated by the same strong light that so clearly reveals the reactions of the white men assembled on the porch.
On the other hand, they are excluded from the dense knot of activity, attentive to the news but relegated to the status of powerless observers. The black man and child form a cohesive group that offers a powerful commentary on the reactions of the figures above them. The red, white and blue of their clothes may allude to the crisis of slavery in the United States.
The men on the porch represent the response in microcosm of the entire nation of white, enfranchised males to the deeply divisive issue of the Mexican-American War. Many saw it as a divinely sanctioned opportunity to achieve the country's ultimate destiny within the vast continent, while others feared the spread of slavery that such westward expansion would inevitably bring.
The reserved, not to say complacent, response of the black figures in the right foreground to the news instills a sense of foreboding in the scene. The effect is one of the "calm before the storm," a cataclysm whose fateful course had already been irrevocably set.
William Sidney Mount (1807-1868), Farmers Bargaining (later known as Bargaining for a Horse), 1835. Oil on canvas.
Mount makes use of a visual pun in this painting, depicting the act of trading for a horse. The activity refers to horse trading, a 19th century colloquialism which referred to the promise of material benefit in return for political support. Under its original title the joke of horse-trading is left to the observer, a point that Reed was quite fond of. After the titles change the meaning became much more obvious, leaving less to the devices of the 19th century viewer.
By depicting the men whittling mount ensures that they do not make eye contact, it also suggests that the bargain is not important enough to justify the full attention of either man. The whittling could also be seen as a means of delaying the bargaining, or even by distracting the each other from the bargain at hand. In either situation, it serves as an indictment of social, economic and political bargaining as something distasteful.
The painting also deals specifically with the notion of Yankeeism, a stereotype of Northeastern behavior, and a well-known concept in the late federalist and antebellum periods. Both north and south sought to increase their wealth and power at this point, but in very different ways. While the South continued to expand the institution of slavery, seeking to create more wealth by simply moving westward to plant more fields and create more plantations, the North was filled with entrepreneurs seeking commercial success. Thus the Yankee was born.
Yankees were most commonly depicted as New England farmers who were clumsy in manner, suspicious of progress and quite foreign to urbanites, especially New Yorkers. Yankee farmers epitomized the other to New Yorkers, and Yankee peddlers became a symbol of blatant commercial drive. These peddlers were viewed as trading their integrity for greed, and were therefore suspect characters of a deceitful nature. The Yankee was a creation that embodied all of the nations fears of progress, commercialism and the dominance of the North East over the rest of the nation.
Mount plays into this negative depiction with his farmers bargaining in that they are both participating in the almost universally Yankee activity of bargaining without any reference to the modes of production which led to the product in question. There are few farm implements, and little evidence that either man had anything to do with the raising or breeding of the horse, replacing old civic ideals about hard work and production. There is only the horse, the men, and the bargain.
Mounts work will allow the class to recap what has already been discussed through composition and color as well as offering fodder for discussion of the painters motive. Once the painting is sufficiently analyzed, Mounts biases become quite clear. That being the case, it offers students the opportunity to hypothesize about the perspective of the artist in a way that has not yet been fully explored by the unit.
Artist age: Approximately 49 years old. 60.96 cm (24 in.), Width: 50.8 cm (20 in.) oil on canvas
His goal was to highlight the social injustices he saw rampant in Civil War-era America. Businessmen and judges appear in his paintings with some frequency, often as grotesque fat and greedy men. Young street urchins dressed in dirty rags lurk amid the urban squalor that Blythe witnessed firsthand in a rapidly industrializing urban center like Pittsburgh, then still struggling with rampant poverty.
The Post Office offered an especially lively mix of clientele, once sending letters was made more affordable. Thankfully for Pittsburgh, it was in this climate of social turmoil that Andrew Carnegie's interest in philanthropy and public libraries would develop late in the century and leave a lasting mark on the culture of this city today. For Blythe, however, in the 1850s and 1860s, sinful and deviant behavior stood hazardously in the way of American ideals of religious and political liberty.
he portrayed the excessively competitive and faceless society that Tocqueville feared was developing in the young Republic. On one canvas, his loafing subjects plan what appears to be criminal activity. Their faces are neither well defined or individually distinctive. On the other canvas, they compete to see who can get their mail first. With their backs to us, the painting is dominated by a woman's ballooning hoop skirt. As with economic opportunity, the door through which all would pass was far too narrow to accommodate all applicants. After the Civil War, Pennsylvania's art would continue to reflect a nation in which new technologies and rapid industrialization were creating both vast wealth and great inequalities.
Whitman also underscores the erotic appeal of the Indian bride, though he instead emphasizes her "voluptuous" nature and the length of her hair, which reaches her feet. (In none of Miller's versions—or at least in none of the five different versions I have seen—does the bride possess the statuesque build associated with voluptuousness, nor does she have the extraordinary profusion of hair that Whitman gives her.) Edgeley W. Todd, one of the first to comment on how The Trapper's Bride figures in "Song of Myself," was misleading, then, when he argued that Whitman provides "simply a verbal translation of what he saw in the painting," and that "not a single detail in the poem is without its counterpart there."62 Subsequent critics have also failed to examine how Whitman purposefully veers away from Miller. Perhaps the most significant difference between painter and poet is that Miller masks conflict while Whitman explores it. That is, in Miller's depictions the trapper's rifle might as well be a staff given the meek, pacific, and longing expressions of the trapper and his friend. Yusef Komunyakaa, in a poem about the 1846 version of Miller's work, aptly describes the two men as sitting "like Jesus / & a shepherd in rawhide."63 In contrast, in Whitman's lines, the rifle plays a much more threatening role. Unlike Miller, Whitman records a troubling scene, one that conveys a sense of the uneasy, conflicted, and destructive aspects of the contact of cultures:
I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far-west . . . .
the bride was a red girl,
Her father and his friends sat near by crosslegged and dumbly
smoking . . . . they had moccasins to their feet and large thick
blankets hanging from their shoulders;
On a bank lounged the trapper . . . . he was dressed mostly in skins
. . . . his luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck,
One hand rested on his rifle . . . . the other hand held firmly the wrist
of the red girl,
She had long eyelashes . . . . her head was bare. . . . her coarse straight
locks descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reached to her
Here the trapper holds his bride as if she were recently captured rather than recently wedded. The idea that the trapper "held firmly the wrist of the red girl" is Whitman's own invention—Miller's renderings of the scene do not show this type of grasp. The poet's phrasing describes a coercive relationship, which conveys a truth about the imperial nature of western expansion and the role of trappers as one of the first in a series of forces that ultimately "demoralized, depopulated, and eventually dispossessed Indian people in the trans-Mississippi West."65 In Whitman's lines, the trapper "lounged," an informal posture at odds with the rapt attention of the trapper in all of Miller's versions of The Trapper's Bride. There is a striking incongruity between "lounged" and "held firmly" because the relaxation implied by the one is at odds with the exertion required by the other. Whitman's trapper strikes a pose of confidence in an encounter fraught with anxiety. Even the description of the trapper's curls hints at danger: his neck needs to be "protected."66
Whitman juxtaposes the account of the trapper and his bride with his treatment of the runaway slave. The scenes are related both through theme and imagery, including a "rifle" that is an important element in both scenes. Both passages also emphasize bare feet: we recall that the bride's hair reached to her feet, and Whitman describes himself as tending the black man's feet.
Two views of Wi-jun-jon, first, on his way to Washington wearing traditional Native American dress and carrying a calumet, then, on his return to his village wearing a uniform with top hat and carrying a fan and an umbrella.
A portrayal of the effects of contact with whites on the Assiniboine chief, Wi-Jun-Jon. (Plate 25). "In offering this illustration to the reader, I am representing to him a faithful delineation of the resemblance of an Assiniboine Warrior, in the flowing and classic costume of his country, as he appeared on his way to the city of Washington, faithfully contrasted with the uncouth plight in which he returned to his tribe the next season, after one year's teaching in the school of civilization: and in the following narrative a faithful account of its melancholy and fatal results. Wi-Jun-jon, the pigeon's Egg Head, was a warrior of the Assiniboine's, young, proud, handsome, valiant, and graceful. He had fought many battles and won many laurels. The numerous scalps from his enemies' heads adorned his dress, and his claims were fair and just for the highest honors that his country could bestow upon him, for his father was head chief of the nation. This young Assiniboine, the Pigeon's Egg Head, was selected by Major Sanford, the Indian agent, to represent his tribe in a delegation which visited Washington city under his charge, in the winter of 1832. With this gentleman the Assiniboine, together with representatives of several others of those North-western tribes, descended the Missouri river several thousand miles on their way to Washington."
35 1/8 x 59 x 31 in. (89.2 x 149.9 x 78.7 cm)
Using marble quarried in Vermont, Peter Stephenson carved an injured American Indian, sitting with his back stooped and his weight on one hand. A wound from an arrow oozes from his abdomen. Sorrow and pain are expressed through the man's lowered head. His head deeply bowed, he is possibly slipping into unconsciousness. His hand gently falls open, revealing an arrow that has pierced his side. This implies he was wounded by someone from his or another tribe, and not by a European settler. Perhaps Stephenson's frontier experience as a young boy in Michigan left him with both respect and sympathy for the American Indian. His choice of marble, a material used by Greek and Roman artists to honor gods, warriors, and athletes, demonstrates the artist's respect for the American Indian.
Known for his portrait cameos, portrait busts, and occasional large works such as The Wounded Indian, Peter Stephenson was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1823. His family moved to New York when he was four and then settled briefly in Michigan, bringing young Stephenson in close contact with American Indians. After his father's death, Stephenson returned to New York, apprenticed as a watchmaker, and then as a cameo artisan. Eventually saving enough money, he moved to Rome, Italy, in 1845. For 19 months, the artist worked in the ancient city, drawing from nature and carving sculptures inspired by the classical world. Returning in 1846 to Boston, he began to exhibit, teach, and work on The Wounded Indian, for which he received considerable public recognition. His commissions increased and he was able to open his Gallery of Bronze and Marble Statuary in Boston's Armory Hall. Succumbing to mental illness, Stephenson died a short nine years later.
In this crowded composition, Bingham suggests the inclusiveness of a democracy with representatives of every age and social stratum except, of course, African Americans, who
would not enjoy the right to vote until after the Civil War, and women, whose right to participate would not be recognized for
another seventy years. The painting reveals other irregularities in the electoral system that would not be tolerated today. Because there was no system of voter registration, the man in
red at the top of the courthouse steps swears on the Bible that he hasn't already cast a vote. Because there was no secret (or even paper) ballot, a voter calls out his choice to the election clerks behind the judge, who openly record it in a ledger. Because there were no restrictions on electioneering, the welldressed
gentleman behind the voter—evidently one of the candidates—is free to hand his card to citizens just before they cast their vote. Yet none of this appears to dull the spirit of the
voting process. The lack of a single dramatic focus in The County Election is an expression of the democratic ideal: all men appear as equals, with no one vote worth more than another. Several members of the electorate engage in serious discussion, perhaps debating the candidates' qualifications. Another group clusters around a newspaper, a potent tool of democracy. Nevertheless, Bingham seems to question the integrity of an election conducted so casually. In the left foreground, a portly man already sprawled
in his chair accepts more hard cider from an African American precinct worker, presumably in exchange for a vote. Behind him, a well-to-do gentleman literally drags a slumping body to the polls as he casts a meaningful glance toward the candidate in blue. A figure beside the courthouse steps (directly below the
man giving an oath) tosses a coin, as though the winner of this contest might as well be determined by luck (or money) as by an orderly election; and in the foreground, the actions of two boys, absorbed in a childhood pastime in which a knife thrown into the ground determines the winner, suggest that the political process is little more than a game of chance. More ominously, a tattered figure in the front right corner hangs his bandaged head, perhaps to imply that for all the apparent good will of the crowd, violence lies just beneath the surface.
Early in his career Smith exhibited landscape, still-life, and genre paintings in addition to portraits, but he met with such success as a portraitist after moving to the Midwest that he seldom painted any other subject. He appears to have received almost all of the most important portrait commissions in the Midwestern cities where he worked. Nevertheless, he exhibited genre paintings at the National Academy of Design in 1842 and with the American Art-Union in 1846 and 1848-49. The Young Mechanic, his Art-Union painting for 1848, is the first of these efforts to come to light. Its warm tonality, strong lighting, and detailed realism accord with the artist's portrait style during the period. The thoroughgoing realism is epitomized in the trompe l'oeil feature of the gate that extends forward toward the picture plane and which bears Smith's signature. His attention to detail and textures seems almost obsessive, even in the context of Midwestern taste as displayed in the realism of Cincinnati's Lilly Martin Spencer (1822-1902) and JAMES H. BEARD early in the following decade. Smith's is a frank realism of wear, stains, and clutter, held together by a strong architectural framework. The title, The Young Mechanic (the word mechanic meaning a skilled person who works with his hands), refers to the boy seated behind the counter of what may be his father's woodworking shop. The working-class boy has been hired by the better-dressed boy in the straw hat to whittle a new mast for his toy boat. The Course of Empire is a five-part series of paintings created by Thomas Cole in the years 1833-36. It is notable in part for reflecting popular American sentiments of the times, when many saw pastoralism as the ideal phase of human civilization, fearing that empire would lead to gluttony and inevitable decay. The theme of cycles is also one that Cole returned to frequently, such as in his The Voyage of Life series.
The series was acquired by The New-York Historical Society in 1858 as a gift of the New-York Gallery of Fine Arts, and comprises the following works: The Course of Empire - The Savage State; The Course of Empire - The Arcadian or Pastoral State; The Course of Empire - The Consummation of Empire; The Course of Empire - Destruction; and The Course of Empire - Desolation.
The series of paintings depicts the growth and fall of an imaginary city, situated on the lower end of a river valley, near its meeting with a bay of the sea. The valley is distinctly identifiable in each of the paintings, in part because of an unusual landmark: a large boulder is precariously situated atop a crag overlooking the valley. Some critics believe this is meant to contrast the immutability of the earth with the transience of man.
The first painting, The Savage State, shows the valley from the shore opposite the crag, in the dim light of a dawning stormy day. A hunter clad in skins hastens through the wilderness, pursuing a deer; canoes paddle up the river; on the far shore can be seen a clearing with a cluster of wigwams around a fire, the nucleus of the city that is to be. The visual references are those of Native American life.
In the second painting, The Arcadian or Pastoral State, the sky has cleared and we are in the fresh morning of a day in spring or summer. The viewpoint has shifted further down the river, as the crag with the boulder is now on the left-hand side of the painting; a forked peak can be seen in the distance beyond it. Much of the wilderness has given way to settled lands, with plowed fields and lawns visible. Various activities go on in the background: plowing, boat-building, herding sheep, dancing; in the foreground, an old man sketches what may be a geometrical problem with a stick. On a bluff on the near side of the river, a megalithic temple has been built, and smoke (presumably from sacrifices) arises from it. The images reflect an idealized, pre-urban ancient Greece.
The third painting, The Consummation of Empire, shifts the viewpoint to the opposite shore, approximately the site of the clearing in the first painting. It is noontide of a glorious summer day. Both sides of the river valley are now covered in colonnaded marble structures, whose steps run down into the water. The megalithic temple seems to have been transformed into a huge domed structure dominating the river-bank. The mouth of the river is guarded by two pharoses, and ships with lateen sails go out to the sea beyond. A joyous crowd throngs the balconies and terraces as a scarlet-robed king or victorious general crosses a bridge connecting the two sides of the river in a triumphal procession. In the foreground an elaborate fountain gushes. The overall look suggests the height of ancient Rome.
The fourth painting, Destruction, has almost the same perspective as the third, though the artist has stepped back a bit to allow a wider scene of the action, and moved almost to the center of the river. The action is the sack and destruction of the city, in the course of a tempest seen in the distance. It seems that a fleet of enemy warriors has overthrown the city's defenses, sailed up the river, and is busily firing the city and killing and raping its inhabitants. The bridge across which the triumphal procession had crossed is broken; a makeshift crossing strains under the weight of soldiers and refugees. Columns are broken, fire breaks from the upper floors of a palace on the river bank. In the foreground a statue of some venerable hero (posed like the Borghese Warrior) stands headless, still striding forward into the uncertain future. The scene is perhaps suggested by the Vandal sack of Rome in 455.
The fifth painting, Desolation, shows the results, years later. We view the remains of the city in the livid light of a dying day. The landscape has begun to return to wilderness, and no human beings are to be seen; but the remnants of their architecture emerge from beneath a mantle of trees, ivy, and other overgrowth. The broken stumps of the pharoses loom in the background. The arches of the shattered bridge, and the columns of the temple are still visible; a single column looms in the foreground, now a nesting place for birds. The sunrise of the first painting is mirrored here by a moonrise, a pale light reflecting in the ruin-choked river while the standing pillar reflects the last rays of sunset.
The Kindred Spirits (1838) is a painting by Asher Brown Durand, a member of the Hudson River School of painters. It depicts the painter Thomas Cole, who had died in 1848, and his friend, the poet William Cullen Bryant, in the Catskill Mountains. The landscape painting, which combines geographical features in Kaaterskill Clove and a minuscule depiction of Kaaterskill Falls, is not a literal depiction of American geography. Rather, it is an idealized memory of Cole's discovery of the region more than twenty years prior, his friendship with Bryant, and his ideas about American nature.
At its heart, Kindred Spirits is a memory piece. Durand, a friend of both Cole and Bryant, depicted his friends in their companionate stance in a location they both expressed in their creative pieces. Cole would depict the area beginning in 1826 with his painting Kaaterskill Falls and the area soon became an icon of the burgeoning American landscape painting. Bryant, poet and newspaper editor, would poetically capture the Kaaterskill in his poem "Caaterskill Falls."
Combining two locations, Kaaterskill Falls and the Clove, in an idealized format the painting illustrates the idea of communing with Nature . As kindred spirits, Cole and Bryant both shared a passion for the American landscape. In the summer of 1840, Bryant explored the Kaaterskill area of the Catskills with Cole. Standing on the ledge looking out towards the valley, the paintings' figures of Bryant and Cole illustrate Cole's 1836 description:
"...in gazing on the pure creations of the Almighty, he feels a calm religious tone steal through
his mind, and when he has turned to mingle with his fellow men, the chords which have been
struck in the sweet communion cease not to vibrate."
— Essay on American Scenery
Durand included the names of these kindred spirits within the landscape itself by carving in paint their names into the birch tree on the left side of the painting.
By painting Cole and Bryant together in Kindred Spirits, Durand created a visual record of the relationship between the art and literary circles of the early nineteenth century, as well as their common beliefs toward the American landscape and Nature. Today, Kindred Spirits has come to symbolize both the Hudson River School and its era's culture (art, literature,etc...). Conceived as a memory piece for Cole, Kindred Spirits may now be said to be a visual memory of the era in which it was created.
is a large oil-on-canvas landscape painting by the American artist Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900). More than five feet (1.7 metres) high and almost ten feet (3 metres) wide, it depicts an idealized landscape in the South American Andes, where Church traveled on two occasions. Its exhibition in 1859 was a sensation, and the painting established Church as the foremost landscape painter in the United States.
The Heart of the Andes is a composite of the South American topography observed by Church during his travels. At the center right of the mountain landscape is a shimmering pool served by a waterfall. The snow-capped, majestic Mount Chimborazo of Ecuador appears in the distance; the viewer's eye is led to it by the darker, closer slopes that decline from right to left. The evidence of human presence consists of a lightly worn path that fades away, a hamlet and church lying in the central plain, and closer to the foreground, two natives are seen before a cross. The church, a trademark detail in Church's paintings, is Catholic and Spanish-colonial, and seemingly inaccessible from the viewer's location. Church's signature appears cut into the bark of the highlighted foreground tree at left. The play of light on his signature has been interpreted as the artist's statement of man's ability to tame nature—yet the tree appears in poor health compared to the vivid jungle surrounding it.
Church's landscape conformed to the aesthetic principles of the picturesque, as propounded by the British theorist William Gilpin, which began with a careful observation of nature that was then enhanced by particular notions about composition and harmony. The juxtaposition of smooth and irregular forms was an important principle, and is represented in The Heart of the Andes by the rounded hills and pool of water on the one hand, and by the contrasting jagged mountains and rough trees on the other.
Johnson fills a scene set in a Washington, D.C., backyard with African Americans who enact virtually every phase of family life: courtship and marriage, motherhood, training the young, and listening to the elderly. Focusing on the black community, he marginalizes the white visitor at the right. Johnson seems to have sought a measure of ambiguity in recounting his tale. Such open-ended story lines would characterize many postwar paintings of everyday life. Although the location is urban, he called the painting Negro Life at the South, which invited viewers to see the tenements as outbuildings on a plantation. On the eve of the Civil War, apologists for slavery could read Johnson's narrative for signs of easy living and family solidarity despite forced servitude. Abolitionists could interpret the dilapidated buildings and humbly dressed people as symbols of slavery's oppression of blacks.
The painting is a domestic scene behind a dilapidated house. On the right in the foreground is a couple courting, in the middle there is a banjo player playing while an adult woman dances with a child as others look on. One of the onlookers, far to the right is a young white woman in an elegant white dress. Above the scene, an adult woman looks out a window as she steadies a small child sitting on the partially collapsed roof. Skin tones vary in the scene from person to person. Aside from the white observer on the far right, the palest person in the scene is the young woman being courted. The darkest skin belongs to the woman dancing with the child in the middle foreground. Some have viewed this as simple realism, others see it as an invitation to the viewer to contemplate the mixed racial heritage of those portrayed. Both proponents and detractors of slavery have seen this painting as defending their positions.
Eastman Johnson (July 29, 1824 - April 5, 1906) was an American painter, and Co-Founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, with his name inscribed at its entrance. Best known for his genre paintings, paintings of scenes from everyday life, and his portraits both of everyday people and prominent Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His later works often show the influence of the 17th-century Dutch masters whom he studied while living in The Hague, and he was even known as The American Rembrandt in his day In The Last Moments of John Brown (1882-1884) by Thomas Hovenden, John Brown, the radical abolitionist and architect of the October 1859 raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, descends the stairs at the jailhouse in Charles Town, Virginia, on the way to his execution for treason, murder, and conspiracy. According to a New York Tribune article printed three days after his death, en route to the gallows Brown allegedly planted a kiss on the cheek of an enslaved child. Several works of art recorded the alleged scene over the following quarter century, culminating with Hovenden's masterly painting, which was commissioned by Robbins Battell, a wealthy businessman from New York. The story of the kiss is almost certainly fictional, but just as the Tribune reporter in 1859 embellished his story to place Brown in a positive light, Hovenden and his patron in the 1880s sought to portray Brown as a sympathetic, kindly old man rather than as a violent criminal. Of the Civil War photographs, the most moving are the inhumanly objective records of combat deaths. Perhaps the most reproduced of these Civil War photographs is [Timothy] O'Sullivan's A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1863. Although this image could be seen as simple reportage, is also functions to impress on people the high price of the Civil War. Corpses litter the battlefield as far as the eye can see. O'Sullivan presented a scene that stretches far to the horizon. As the photograph modulates from the precise clarity of the bodies of Union soldiers in the foreground, boots stolen and pockets picked, to the almost illegible corpses in the distance, the suggestion of innumerable other dead soldiers is unavoidable. . . . Though it was years before photolithography could reproduce photographs like this in newspapers, they were publicly exhibited and made an impression that newsprint engravings never could.
This photograph of the rotting dead awaiting burial after the Battle of Gettysburg is perhaps the best-known Civil War landscape. It was published in Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War (1866), the nation's first anthology of photographs. The Sketch Book features ten photographic plates of Gettysburg—eight by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, who served as a field operator for Alexander Gardner, and two by Gardner himself. The extended caption that accompanies this photograph is among Gardner's most poetic: "It was, indeed, a 'harvest of death.' . . . Such a picture conveys a useful moral: It shows the blank horror and reality of war, in opposition to its pageantry. Here are the dreadful details! Let them aid in preventing such another calamity falling upon the nation."
As an idealistic young reporter and newspaper editor in Glasgow, Scotland, Alexander Gardner dreamed of forming a semi-socialistic colony somewhere in what he thought of as the unspoiled wilderness of America. He selected a place in Iowa, but even though he sent family and friends to live there, Gardner never joined them. Instead, when he disembarked in New York he remained. The celebrated American photographer Mathew Brady had probably paid for his passage, though how they came to be acquainted is unknown. Gardner, who had spent his spare time in Scotland studying science, became Brady's assistant for seven years. He was manager of Brady's Washington, D.C., gallery until the American Civil War broke out in 1861.
Working for Brady's studio until 1862, Gardner is said to have made three-quarters of the campaign pictures of the Army of the Potomac. In 1866 he published Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War, the first published collection of Civil War photographs, comprised of one hundred photographs by himself and eleven photographers working for him, including Timothy O'Sullivan and John Reekie. It was a commercial failure. After the war Gardner finally traveled West to his promised land, photographing along the way.
The material that Homer collected as an artist-correspondent during the Civil War provided the subjects for his first oil paintings. In 1866, one year after the war ended and four years after he reputedly began to paint in oil, Homer completed this picture, a work that established his reputation. It represents an actual scene from the war in which a Union officer, Brigadier General Francis Channing Barlow (1834-1896) captured several Confederate officers on June 21, 1864. The background depicts the battlefield at Petersburg, Virginia. Infrared photography and numerous studies indicate that the painting underwent many changes in the course of completion.
The material that Homer collected as an artist-correspondent during the Civil War provided the subjects for his first oil paintings. In 1866, one year after the war ended and four years after he reputedly began to paint in oil, Homer completed the picture Prisoners from the Front, one of Homer's most famous and highly lauded paintings of the Civil War, a work that established his reputation.
It represents an actual scene from the war in which a Union officer, Brigadier General Francis Channing Barlow (1834-1896), captured several Confederate officers on June 21, 1864. The background depicts the battlefield at Petersburg, Virginia.
It is a scene without exciting action or schematic devices, yet a kind of nobility and emotional drama pervades the canvas. Homer expertly characterized the range of personalities involved in the war, from the young, uncertain boy being captured to the bearded old man, humbly submitting to his fate, to the proud challenging stance of the third man still dressed in Confederate uniform. We feel the tension between Barlow and the Confederated soldier, yet it never threatens the stability of the image. Homer seemed to emphasize the sense of unity and spirit of a nation acknowledging a new direction.
General Barlow was not only a friend whom Homer had visited at the front at least once and probably more often than that, but was also "one of the most eminent" officers to survive the war. Barlow had a record of valorous military service in which, particularly, "he distinguished himself at the Wilderness by leading his division in the grand charge which resulted in the capture of the rebel General Ed. Johnson's entire division" - an incident of which Homer's painting can easily be considered a symbolic representation.
ield's grand Historical Monument, painted in response to the Civil War and in anticipation of the nation's Centennial, encyclopedically charts America's early history. On more than 130 simulated relief panels set into ten painted towers, the 150-square-foot picture chronicles 250 years of American history, from Jamestown to the Centennial of 1876.
Prior to painting the Historical Monument, Field had worked primarily in portraiture in the vicinity of his home in Leverett in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. Though he had studied painting with Samuel F. B. Morse in New York in 1824 and 1825, Field continued to paint in a country style that was a less sophisticated version of his teacher's work. His portraits, with their flat compositions and blunt directness, were popular in rural towns and small cities along the Connecticut River Valley, from Greenfield and Northampton in the north to Hartford and New Haven in the south.
Field's interest in historical architecture and subjects dated from his second residency in New York, from 1841 to 1848, when he painted his Embarkation of Ulysses (around 1844, Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Mass.), a picture that also contains a number of classical architectural towers. Field may also have been inspired toward history and architectural forms by Thomas Cole's The Architect's Dream (1840, Toledo Museum of Art), and by a contemporary English vogue for architectural pictures, such as Charles Robert Cockerell's The Professor's Dream (c. 1825, Royal Academy of Arts, London), which bears striking formal resemblance to Historical Monument. But it was not until the Civil War that Field turned nearly exclusively to history painting. At first he was interested in painting Old Testament stories about the tortured odyssey of the Jews; for example, he painted a series of at least ten pictures that were collectively called "The Plagues of Egypt" and were intended for installation in the North Amherst Congregational Church.
Historical Monument, which coincided in date with these biblical pictures, also chronicles the history of a people. At opposite ends of the long egyptianate base, the American narrative begins with images of Jamestown and Plymouth. It culminates at the top of the central tower, two and a half centuries later, in balloon-stack locomotives traveling on iron truss bridges to and from the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, which is encircled by dozens of angels waving American flags. The path from settlement to centennial is not an easy one, however. Instead, it is a tortured route in which the narrative becomes ruptured and the events depicted tell a harrowing tale. Field repeatedly pictures scenes of tragedy, chaos, invasion, oppression, and violence, such as the Jamestown Massacre of 1622 on Tower Two and the Kansas Insurrection on Tower Four. Most frightening of all are his representations of the Civil War, which include savage battles, African Americans being hunted and massacred, a Statue of Liberty overthrown, a winged Satan presiding over the South, and, at the center of the painting, the assassination of Lincoln.
To be sure, Field did not forget to memorialize euphoric moments in American history; the first settlements, the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Centennial. But, clearly, the narrative that leads to America's final glory oscillates between triumph and tragedy, apotheosis and apocalypse. This kind of twisting historical spiral resembles a form of religious rhetoric known in orthodox Calvinist churches as a
jeremiad. In jeremiads, which Field would have known from listening to sermons at the North Amherst Congregational Church, history is never a charmed path, but is a continual opposition between states of crisis and redemption. In the imagination of Field and others who still believed in Calvinist orthodoxy, American history, like biblical history, was probational.
It was non-chronological, too. Instead of progressing vertically up each tower, history in the Historical Monument is broken and scattered across different towers at different levels. Studying the picture, or consulting the Descriptive Catalogue that Field published to accompany it, it is evident that some events, such as the Revolution, are not self-contained stories but are dispersed over many towers  For example, the Declaration of Independence and revolutionary battle scenes are in the midsection of the third tower from the right. But the surrender of Cornwallis and Washington's resignation from the army are near the summit of the fourth tower from the left. Among Field's many chronological displacements, the most notable is in the center of the short central tower where John Wilkes Booth assassinates Lincoln while Washington looks on and raises his hand in horror.
The appearance of Washington at Lincoln's murder and the other anti-chronological juxtapositions that re-weave history are based on another Calvinist rhetorical device, that of figuration. In figurative logic, someone or something from the past is the prefiguration of someone or something in the future. And, similarly, the future is the fulfillment of the promise of the past. Though separate in chronological time, in Field's metaphoric time Washington and Lincoln are intimately linked by their extraordinary sacrifices for and tenacious visions of a nation during the crises of the American Revolution and the Civil War.
By 1876 Reconstruction-era Republican idealism was largely exhausted. Republican state governments in the South, supported primarily by African American votes, were charged with massive corruption, similar to that charged against the Irish Catholic-backed Tammany Hall machine. The charges were exaggerated, but Republican reformers, among them Harper's Weekly, blasted traditional Republican leaders for sustaining corrupt governments and engaging in dishonest practices themselves. To offset waning support for Reconstruction, Republicans resorted to anti-Catholic, anti-Irish posturing, prejudices that were widely shared at the time. This cartoon was published in the wake of the disputed election of 1876, in which both sides charged fraud. Nast compares the African American Republican vote of the South to the Irish Catholic Democratic vote of the North. Under such circumstances, winning elections is hardly an honor, and neither Democrat nor Republican should claim special virtue. Nast's changing attitude toward former slaves paralleled that of many Republicans as they shifted from the idealistic politics of the Reconstruction era to the cynical politics of the Gilded Age. The Emancipation Memorial, also known as the Freedman's Memorial or the Emancipation Group, and sometimes referred to as the "Lincoln Memorial" before the more prominent so-named memorial was built, is a monument in Lincoln Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Designed and sculpted by Thomas Ball and erected in 1876, the monument depicts Abraham Lincoln in his role of the "Great Emancipator" freeing a male African American slave modeled on Archer Alexander. The ex-slave is depicted on one knee, with one fist clenched, shirtless and shackled at the president's feet. The monument has long been the subject of controversy. According to information from American University: If there is one slavery monument whose origins are highly political, the Freedman's memorial is it. The development process for this memorial started immediately after Abraham Lincoln's assassination and ended, appropriately enough, near the end of Reconstruction in 1876. In many ways, it exemplified and reflected the hopes, dreams, striving, and ultimate failures of reconstruction. Despite being paid for by African Americans, historian Kirk Savage in 1997 condemned it as "a monument entrenched in and perpetuating racist ideology" because of the supplicant and inferior position of the Black figure.
The statue is a contributing monument to the Civil War Monuments in Washington, DC, of the National Register of Historic Places.
Although it is not documented when Ward began The Freedman, he probably was inspired to compose his statuette of a seated, semi-nude African-American man following Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22, 1862. Contemporary appreciation for The Freedman arose from a desire for sculpture that addressed current issues, rather than the less tangible ideals prevalent in Neoclassical works. Not only does this piece offer a commentary on the chief political and moral topic of the era, but it also proclaims Ward's abolitionist sentiments. Ward wrote to one of his patrons, James Reid Lambdin: "I intended [the statuette] to express not one set free by any proclamation so much as by his own hour of freedom." The broken manacles of servitude on the former slave's left wrist and in his right hand state in basic terms the essence of the sculpture. The muscular figure is executed with remarkable attention to realistic physiognomy and anatomy. Ward probably based his model on an African American from his hometown of Urbana, Ohio, or from his travels to the South in 1858. While naturalism prevails overall in the surface treatment, there is an informing classicism, the most obvious antique antecedent being the Belvedere Torso (Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican). The Metropolitan Museum's cast was produced by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company in 1891. It is exceptional in quality and beautifully crafted with a dark, polished patina. The Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment is a bronze relief sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens at 24 Beacon Street, Boston (at the edge of the Boston Common), depicting the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry marching down Beacon Street on May 28, 1863. It was unveiled May 31, 1897.The Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial, located across Beacon Street from the State House, serves as a reminder of the heavy cost paid by individuals and families during the Civil War. In particular, it serves as a memorial to the group of men who were among the first African Americans to fight in that war. Although African Americans served in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, northern racist sentiments kept African Americans from taking up arms for the United States in the early years of the Civil War. However, a clause in Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation made possible the organization of African American volunteer regiments. The first documented African American regiment formed in the north was the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry, instituted under Governor John Andrew in 1863. African American men came to enlist from every region of the north, and from as far away as the Caribbean. Robert Gould Shaw was the man Andrew chose to lead this regiment.
Robert G. Shaw was the only son of Francis George and Sarah Blake (née Sturgis) Shaw. The Shaws were a wealthy and well connected New York and Boston family. They were also radical abolitionists and Unitarians. Robert did not blindly follow his parents ideological and religious beliefs, but all recognized the importance and responsibility involved in leading the Massachusetts 54th Regiment.
The Massachusetts 54th Regiment became famous and solidified their place in history following the attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina on July 18, 1863. At least 74 enlisted men and 3 officers were killed in that battle, and scores more were wounded. Colonel Shaw was one of those killed. Sergeant William H. Carney, who was severely injured in the battle, saved the regiment's flag from being captured. He was the first African American to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The 54th Regiment also fought in an engagement on James Island, the Battle of Olustee, and at Honey Hill, South Carolina before their return to Boston in September 1865. Only 598 of the original 1,007 men who enlisted were there to take part in the final ceremonies on the Boston Common. In the last two years of the war, it is estimated that over 180,000 African Americans served in the Union forces and were instrumental to the Union's victory.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens took nearly fourteen years to complete this high-relief bronze monument, which celebrates the valor and sacrifices of the Massachusetts 54th. Saint-Gaudens was one of the premier artists of his day. He grew up in New York and Boston, but received formal training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts Paris. In New York, forty men were hired to serve as models for the soldiers' faces. Colonel Shaw is shown on horseback and three rows of infantry men march behind. This scene depicts the 54th Regiment marching down Beacon Street on May 28, 1863 as they left Boston to head south. The monument was paid for by private donations and was unveiled in a ceremony on May 31, 1897.
The Gulf Stream is an 1899 oil painting by Winslow Homer. It shows a man in a small rudderless fishing boat struggling against the waves of the sea, and was the artist's last statement on a theme that had interested him for more than a decade. Homer vacationed often in Florida, Cuba, and the Caribbean.Homer crossed the Gulf Stream numerous times; his first trip to the Caribbean in 1885 seems to have inspired several related works dated from the same year, including a pencil drawing of a dismasted boat, a large watercolor The Derelict (Sharks), and a larger watercolor of the forward part of the boat, Study for "The Gulfstream". A later watercolor study was The Gulfstream of 1889, in which the disabled boat now includes a black sailor and flailing shark. Additionally, there are other related watercolors; the shark in Shark Fishing of 1885 was later appropriated for The Gulfstream of 1889, and a watercolor of 1899 entitled After the Hurricane, in which a figure lies unconscious beside his beached boat, represents the finale of the watercolor narrative of man against nature.
After the Hurricane, painted by Homer in 1899, depicts a man washed up on a beach after a storm.
Another possible inspiration for the series of watercolors and The Gulf Stream itself was McCabe's Curse, a Bahamian tale about a British Captain McCabe who in 1814 was robbed by thieves, hired a small boat in hopes of reaching a nearby island, but was caught in a storm and later died in Nassau of yellow fever; Homer saved an account of the story and pasted it into a travel guide.
A visit to Nassau and Florida between December 1898 and February 1899 immediately preceded the final painting. Homer began work on the painting by September 1899, at which time he wrote: "I painted in water colors three months last winter at Nassau, & have now just commenced arranging a picture from some of the studies." Chronologically the first of a series of major works painted by Homer in the last decade of his life, The Gulf Stream was painted in the last year of the century, the year after the death of his father, and has been seen as revealing his sense of abandonment or vulnerability.Homer's intentions for the The Gulf Stream are opaque. the painting has been described as "a particularly enigmatic and tantalizing episode, a marine puzzle that floats forever in a region of unsolved mysteries." Bryson Burroughs, a onetime curator at the Metropolitan Museum, noted that it "assumes the proportion of a great allegory if one chooses". Its drama is of a romantic and heroic vein, the man stoically resigned to fate, surrounded by anecdotal detail reminiscent of Homer's early illustrative works.
When a viewer requested an explanation for the narrative, Homer fairly bristled in response:
"I regret very much that I have painted a picture that requires any description....I have crossed the Gulf Stream ten times & I should know something about it. The boat & sharks are outside matters of very little consequence. They have been blown out to sea by a hurricane. You can tell these ladies that the unfortunate negro who now is so dazed & parboiled, will be rescued & returned to his friends and home, & ever after live happily."
The painting alludes to John Singleton Copley's 1778 composition, Watson and the Shark, as well as a handful of dramatic marine paintings of the 19th century. In American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America, Robert Hughes contrasts Homer's picture with Copley's. While Copley's shark jaw is alien in form and most likely drawn from second-hand accounts, Homer's— owing to the artist's familiarity with the subject— correctly captures the shark's anatomy. Secondly, in Copley's version, a rescue is imminent: the horizon is near and light in tone, and many boats, within the harbor and probably docked, are seen in the background. Homer's version, with its circling sharks, broken mast, lone figure, looming water spout, and open sea give a sense of abandonment. The ship at far left is so distant as to suggest that society, while present, is completely unattainable; it presents the viewer with a so-close-yet-so-far situation. These two paintings contrast in their immediacy as well. In Watson and the Shark there is constant movement: the boat moving forward, the downward thrust of the spear, the two men reaching down for the victim, and finally the shark which extends off the canvas. In Homer's painting, the scene is more static: the sharks seem to swim slowly around the boat which lolls in a trough between waves.
This vase features species of native American plants around its body. North American bison heads serve as handles; a profile portrait of George Washington embellishes each side; and each of the six biscuit-relief panels around the base depicts a different scene from American history, among them a minuteman with his cannon, William Penn signing a treaty with the Indians, and the Boston Tea Party.
Created for the U.S. Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, this impressive vase was designed by a German-born sculptor and made by a premier porcelain manufacturer.
The symbolic images on this vase combine a sense of place with the sweep of history. Place is represented by depictions of native animals such as American bison, walrus, and rams. Scenes from the nation's past and examples of American invention and progress, such as reapers, sewing machines, steamships, and telegraph poles, convey the sweep of history.
Winslow Homer (February 24, 1836 - September 29, 1910) was an American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th-century America and a preeminent figure in American art.
Largely self-taught, Homer began his career working as a commercial illustrator. He subsequently took up oil painting and produced major studio works characterized by the weight and density he exploited from the medium. He also worked extensively in watercolor, creating a fluid and prolific oeuvre, primarily chronicling his working vacations.
The social role of women was profoundly changed by the Civil War, and economic necessity forced many to leave their homes to work in factories. Homer shows several of these young women, lunch pails in hand, on their way to work in a New England mill, possibly in Lowell, Massachusetts. While the focus of the painting is on the young women, underlying the whole scene is the uneasy sense of a young nation in transition between an agricultural and an industrial society. To earn extra money, many school teachers came from the city to work in factories during the summer months. The sense of shared community evoked by the circle of three rural women in aprons and earth-colored, homespun dresses chatting at the right is in striking contrast to the solitary central figure, inappropriately dressed for factory work in a straw bonnet and scarlet jacket. While the country women seem comfortably rooted in the fertile landscape, she hesitatingly turns from the ramp onto the makeshift bridge over a stagnant stream. Situated at the crossroads in the painting, she may be seen as symbolically poised between the rural values of the past and the increasingly isolated and depersonalized culture of American life after the Civil War.
Andrew Joseph Russell (20 March 1829, Walpole, New Hampshire-22 September 1902, Brooklyn, New York) was a 19th-century American photographer of the Civil War and Union Pacific Railroad. Russell was the official photographer of the eastern half of the first transcontinental railroad. His best known photograph shows the joining of the rails at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869. After the end of the Civil War, Russell was commissioned by the Union Pacific Railway Company to make pictures of every aspect of the construction of the eastern (Union Pacific constructed) portion of the transcontinental railroad. While he is perhaps most famous for his iconic image of the laying of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, his album-book, Sun Pictures of Rocky Mountain Scenery included often spectacular photographs of the technologies of railroad building laid across the wastelands of the American West.Andrew J. Russell was born on March 20, 1829 in Walpole, New Hampshire. He grew up in New York, where his family worked in canal and railroad construction. Originally a painter, as an army captian during the Civil War he was assigned special duty as photographer for the United States Military Railroad. After the war, Russell became facinated with the national project of constructing a transcontinental railroad. During 1868 and 1869, his camera recorded the incredible progress of the Union Pacific Railroad building west from Laramie to Promontory Summit. Covering the May 10, 1869 "Wedding of the Rails" for Frank Leslie's Illustrated, Russell made a series of photographs which included one of the most famous images in American history. Well aware of the importance of the event, he wrote: "The great railroad problem of the age is now solved. The continental iron band now permanently unites the distant portions of the Republic and opens up to commerce, navigation, and enterprise the vast unpeopled plains and lofty mountain ranges that divide the East from the West."
Russell, A.J., and Company, New York City (active 1860s to 1870s):
Russell worked as a Civil War photographer for the United States Military Construction Corporation. He made the extensive series "Union Pacific R.R. Stereoscopic Views", photographing railway construction from Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, to Promontory [Summit, Utah Territory] (1868-1869). In 1870 he continued coverage of [the] Pacific Railroad as far as California. In 1868 Russell began publishing the series "Pacific R.R. Views Across the Continent West from Omaha". The views are found without credit to Russell, but rather credit went to O.C. Smith, who obtained the negatives in about 1875 and offered them with credit to himself into 1878. Notable series include: Platte Series, Black Hills Series, Uintah Series, Echo Kanyon (sic) Series, Echo City Series, Weber Kanyon (sic) Series, Devil's Gate Series, Salt Lake Valley Series, California Series, Groups & Indians Series. The most sought after views from the transcontinental series show the "Joining of the Rails." C. R. Savage of Salt Lake City, [A. A. Hart of Sacramento,] and A. J. Russell recorded the historic events. "East meets West shaking hands, May 10, 1869," showing the locomotives head to head and the large crowd, is the most famous and equally the most sought after by collectors.
AJ Russell was the only member of the armed services to serve as a photographer during the Civil War. After the Civil War he was hired by the Union Pacific Railroad to document construction along the track line. He is most famous for his photo "Joining of the Rails" when the continental railroad was completed on May 10, 1869 in Promontory, Utah. After 1870 Russell returned to New York where he became the world's first photojournalist working for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper until the early 1890's. From 1869-1875 Russell published 15 different series of the photos taken during his time in Utah. In 1875 Russell sold a number of these negatives to O.C. Smith who published the stereoviews and Imperial views, under Smith's own name, from 1875-78. Over 400 A.J Russell stereoview glass plate negatives and 200 Imperial view glass plate negatives are in the AJ Russell collection at the Oakland Museum
In depicting the relationship between nature and humankind in some of the first photographs of frontier America, Watkins' work influenced the national understanding of what defines the West. When he first photographed it, Yosemite was not yet a tourist destination and was known to most Easterners only through the verbal reports of awe-struck visitors. Watkins' photographs were instrumental in having the region declared a national preserve by Abraham Lincoln in 1864.
The works on view will reveal how, during a prolific 50-year career, Watkins anticipated the 20th century in important ways. He foreshadowed photographers Edward Weston and Ansel Adams by producing rich, stately portraits of the grandeur of the rockbound coast and the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains, especially in Yosemite Valley. He also influenced painters. The exhibition title, From Where the View Looked Best, is derived from a statement Watkins himself made to describe his approach to composition—an approach so strong that painters such as Thomas Hill (English/American 1829-1908) and Albert Bierstadt (American, 1830-1902) used his photographs as sources. He also had concerns for interplay between surface pattern and spatial dimensions, as would a painter.
Watkins also was mechanically innovative. To make photographs he felt were deserving of the grand scale of his subjects, he designed a special camera to hold 21" x 18" glass negatives. As the archetypal American expeditionary photographer, Watkins was prepared to travel constantly and resourcefully transported his very large camera, sheets of glass and photographic chemicals into places sometimes accessible only by foot or on horseback.
The process of choosing exactly where to place his camera in relation to his subject was central to Watkins' art. In Yosemite Valley from the Best General View (about 1865-1866), a moving vista of the breathtaking valley set off by a tall, spindly conifer, his treatment of the tree provides a valuable clue about how deliberate and experimental his compositional choices were. By positioning the camera so that the base of the slender tree appears to grow from the bottom edge of the picture, he sacrificed its top but was able to place the miniaturized Yosemite Falls at the visual center of the picture. The tree is in the immediate foreground and slices from top to bottom the vast distance behind it. It serves as a sort of needle on a gauge by which the viewer is to judge the incomprehensible distance across the valley.
In addition to portraying the beauty of natural environments, Watkins' work illuminates the destructive aspect of human progress. Many of his clientele were entrepreneurs who employed Watkins to document their sawmills and mining operations, so From Where the View Looked Best will include photographs such as Malakoff Diggings, North Bloomfield, Nevada County, California (1871), in which a steel pipe violently cuts across a forest-lined gorge undergoing destructive surface mining. The pipe fed a network of hoses whose nozzles directed water at the gravel hillsides for gold extraction. The jets of water are miniaturized behind the pipe in Malakoff Diggings in the same way Watkins miniaturized Yosemite Falls behind the tree in Yosemite Valley from the Best General View.
Impoverished and infirm, Watkins was rediscovered around 1900 by Harry C. Peterson, who formed the largest private collection of Watkins' photographs. A number of items, many the only surviving prints from the negatives, were acquired from the Peterson Collection by the Getty Museum between 1996 and 1999, and will be displayed for the first time in this exhibition.
In July 1866 Josiah Whitney reported that "Watkins is on the spot, with a most wonderful camp, and has taken many fine pictures, some of these I think will surpass anything he has ever done—especially the trail view from the Mariposa Trail & a spectacle from a spot two-thirds of the way down which we all think gives the best general view of the valley, and Watkins thinks his best picture." The single tree (carefully trimmed to keep from blocking the view) flags the outset of the course the eye will take in discovering the receding space in this beautifully orchestrated landscape.
In 1871 the Hayden expedition set out to survey the sources of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, the area that was soon to become the nation's first national park. Thomas Moran joined as artist of the team and depicted many of Yellowstone's geologic features and landscapes. These depictions later proved essential in convincing the United States Congress to establish Yellowstone as a national park.
Thomas Moran was born in Bolton, Lancashire in England in 1837. In 1844 his family moved to Baltimore and later settled in Philadelphia. Around the age of 16, Moran began his artistic training as an apprentice in a wood engraver's shop. After two years Moran left his apprenticeship to begin a full-time painting career.
Like many American artists of his time, Moran studied abroad in Europe, focusing on the works of European masters, particularly landscape artist J.W. Turner in the National Gallery in London. Moran soon established himself as a well-respected painter, engraver, and illustrator. He produced images for several publications, including Scribner's Magazine and it was through his association with Scribner's that he first learned of the Hayden Expedition. He agreed to join the expedition at his own expense, and with the support of Jay Cooke and Company, owners of the Northern Pacific Railroad, Moran was welcomed as a member of the survey team. The Northern Pacific Railroad had a vested interest in Moran, as they were looking to popularize the area in the interest of expanding their railroad westward.
During the forty days he spent in the area, Moran documented over 30 different sites. His sketches along with William Henry Jackson's photographs captured the nation's attention and forever linked the artist with the area. In fact, his name became so synonymous with Yellowstone that he was often referred to as Thomas "Yellowstone" Moran.
Created by American-born sculptor James Earle Fraser (1876-1953), End of the Trail, a representation of an American Indian on horseback, has endured to become one of the most recognizable images in the United States. Fraser was born in Winona, Minnesota, and spent much of his childhood growing up on the Great Plains in Mitchell, South Dakota. The family later moved to Chicago, where Fraser attended the Art Institute.
In 1893 Fraser assisted with installations at the World's Colombian Exposition (World's Fair) in Chicago. Inspired by numerous exhibits depicting the American Indian and by his childhood memories, Fraser created the original bronze version of End of the Trail in 1894.
In 1897 Fraser left the United States to study abroad. He took his bronze piece with him, and in 1898 he won the John Wanamaker prize at the American Artists Association exhibition in Paris. The prestigious award earned the young art student the opportunity to study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In addition, he became an assistant to renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
After returning to the United States in 1900, Fraser reworked his End of the Trail sculpture numerous times in preparation for an eighteen-foot-tall monumental version of the work created in plaster exclusively for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California. From 1912 to 1913 Chief John Big Tree of the Seneca tribe served as a model in Fraser's New York studio, posing for End of the Trail as well as for the famed "buffalo" nickel.
Following the conclusion of the exposition, the artist wished to have his work cast in bronze. However, when the United States entered into World War I in 1917, bronze became very scarce, and the majority of sculptures that had been exhibited at the expo were deposited into a mud pit in Marina Park. Fraser made several attempts to locate his sculpture in order to obtain a copyright for the image and to cast the work in bronze. His attempts were unsuccessful, and he assumed the piece to be destroyed. In the meantime, residents of Tulare County, California, rescued and restored it and placed it in Mooney Grove Park in Visalia, California.
Whistler's painting of Christine Spartali, a noted beauty of the 1860s is another in his series of clearly Western compositions that depict languid young women amid Oriental props. Later writers saw parallels between this work and Japanese images, such as woodblock prints by Utamaro, but the painting is just as firmly based upon 18th-century French chinoiserie. The Princesse is one of several early works for which preparatory sketches are known to have been used. One surviving sketch shows the artist blocking in the general composition and colors, but leaving out details of rug, screen and costume that were added to the final work. The spray of flowers at the left of the oil sketch were later eliminated. Whistler's decision isolated Miss Spartali's profile and increased the impact of her exotic visage. However, her father refused to purchase the work as a portrait of his daughter. Whistler was not willing to reduce the size of his signature for another potential purchaser, and the Pennells believed that this incident caused him to develop his butterfly cypher. However, the butterfly did not actually appear until several years later.
Princess depicts a beautiful Western woman wearing a kimono and standing amidst numerous Asian objects, including a rug and screen as well as some porcelain. She holds a hand fan and looks at the viewer "wistfully". The entirety is rendered in an impressionistic manner. Princess's frame is decorated with a similar motif to the painting, with interlocking circles and numerous rectangles.
Aiko Okamoto-MacPhall notes that Whistler at the time he painted Princess often used large amounts of gold color, such as in his similarly themed Caprice in Purple and Gold No.2: The Gold Screen. Although the painting itself does not include any shades of gold, while displayed at the home of British shipping magnate Frederick Leyland it was set in a gold and blue interior.
One of the most successful painters in late nineteenth-century America, William Merritt Chase was a New York personality whose reputation was enhanced by the opulent studio space pictured here, in which he worked and promoted his art. First inspired by the exotically appointed studios of his European contemporaries during his student years abroad, Chase embarked on his own collecting, returning to New York with a wide-ranging assortment of paintings, furniture, textiles, metalwork, ceramics and frames. In 1879 he moved into the largest space in the Tenth Street Studio Building, installing his possessions in the setting that would become a favorite haunt of colleagues, patrons, and the public, to whom it was opened once a week. Chase's paintings of the studio, which highlight a variety of views, suggest his belief in a complete and passionate engagement with art. Characterized by rich colors and lively brushwork, the paintings appealed to an American audience increasingly under the sway of the British Aesthetic Movement, which above all championed the artistic appointment of interiors with a rich ensemble of decorated surfaces.In New York City, Chase was known for a flamboyance that he flaunted in his dress, his manners, and most of all in his studio. At Tenth Street, Chase filled the studio with lavish furniture, decorative objects, stuffed birds, oriental carpets, and exotic musical instruments. By 1895 the cost of maintaining the studio, in addition to his other residences, forced Chase to close it and auction the contents. His house on Stuyvesant Square remained his residence for life. He also maintained a studio in the Tiffany Building on Fourth Avenue. A prolific artist and enthusiastic traveler, Hassam painted a variety of outdoor locations: picturesque coastal towns and cities such as New York, Boston, and Paris. Washington Arch, Spring is an example of one of Hassam's most celebrated and distinctive themes—the city. Like the French impressionists, Hassam enjoyed the challenge of capturing the bustling activity of the street as well as the charm of tree-lined avenues. Even in his early career, before embracing impressionism, he painted city scenes in which light and atmospheric effects played an important part. By the 1880s he was using a higher-keyed palette and looser brushwork to paint the spectacle of Paris boulevards. When he returned from Europe in 1889, he began making paintings and etchings of New York. Hassam saw New York as a place of comparable beauty and excitement to the French capital in the fashionable neighborhoods along Fifth Avenue and at Washington Square. In focusing on the more elegant side of New York life, Hassam equated the city physically to the picturesque capitals of Europe, while also, as Duncan Phillips explained, reflecting the city's "awakening cosmopolitanism...."
The arch, sited on Washington Square at the southern end of Fifth Avenue, made clear Hassam's reference to a similar monument, the Arc d'Triomphe in Paris. The New York arch, designed by Stanford White, commemorated the one-hundredth anniversary of George Washington's inauguration. Hassam's residence at was just north of the Square, so he was able to watch the progress of construction, first a temporary wood and plaster structure, finished in 1889, followed by a permanent marble arch completed in 1892.
Hassam chose a vantage point at street level. Partially blocked by trees; the arch could be seen in the near distance at the end of Fifth Avenue, shown at a diagonal that sweeps into the composition. Although he employed an asymmetrical design and a light palette, as favored by his French impressionist predecessors, Hassam, like most of his American counterparts, preferred not to sacrifice structure and solid form to the fragmenting effects of broken color. He still sought the momentary and fleeting, however, remarking on his interest in watching the bustle of people on the streets as they went about their daily life. Hassam included several pedestrians in Washington Arch, along with a street cleaner and a horse-drawn carriage. He remained a detached observer, however, focusing on the larger, overall view, and capturing a genteel, sunny, picturesque world.
The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (originally titled Portraits d'enfants) is a painting by John Singer Sargent. The painting depicts four young girls, the daughters of Edward Darley Boit, in their family's Paris apartment. It was painted in 1882 and is now exhibited in the new Art of the Americas Wing of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The painting hangs in between the two tall blue-and-white Japanese vases depicted in the work; they were donated by the heirs of the Boit family.
It has been described as "Arguably the most psychologically compelling painting of Sargent's career". Though the painting's unusual composition was noted from its earliest viewings, initially its subject was interpreted simply as that of girls at play, but it has subsequently been viewed in more abstract terms, reflecting Freudian analysis and a greater interest in the ambiguities of adolescence.
Edward Boit was the son-in-law of John Perkins Cushing and a friend of Sargent's. Boit was an "American cosmopolite" and a minor painter. His wife and the mother of his five children was Mary Louisa Cushing, known as "Isa". Their four daughters were Florence, Jane, Mary Louisa and Julia.
t is not certain whether The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit was commissioned by Boit or painted at Sargent's suggestion. Set in what is thought to be the foyer of Boit's Paris apartment, its dark interior space is reminiscent of those Sargent had recently painted in Venice. The composition was unusual for a group portrait, both for the varying degrees of prominence given to the figures—conventional group portraiture called for an arrangement in which the subjects were portrayed as equally important—and for the square shape of the canvas.
The dimensions may owe something to the influence of Diego Velázquez's Las Meninas, which Sargent had copied, and which presages the geometric format and broad, deep spaces of Sargent's painting. When the painting was first exhibited, contemporary critics, including Henry James, wrote of Sargent's debt to Velázquez.
The work of Diego Velázquez in general, and Las Meninas in particular, influenced Sargent's composition.
Art historian Barbara Gallati notes that the English translation of Las Meninas, "Maids-in-Waiting", is an apt description for the activity of the Boit children. Carolus-Duran, Sargent's teacher, had encouraged his students to study the work of Velásquez. The relationship between the works is considered so significant that the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) loaned The Daughters to the Museo del Prado in 2010, so that the paintings could be exhibited together for the first time.
The brushwork of several passages has been seen as deriving from Frans Hals, and nearly contemporaneous works that have been cited for their similarities are Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and, especially for its psychological complexity, The Bellelli Family by Edgar Degas.
Dressed in white pinafores, the children are arranged so that the youngest, four-year-old Julia, sits on the floor, eight-year-old Mary Louisa stands at left, and the two oldest, Jane, aged twelve, and Florence, fourteen, stand in the background, partially obscured by shadow.
In very nearly hiding one of the girl's faces and subjugating the characterization of individuals to more formal compositional considerations, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit is as much about the subject of childhood as it is an example of portraiture.[
Madame X or Portrait of Madame X is the informal title of a portrait painting by John Singer Sargent of a young socialite named Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, wife of Pierre Gautreau. The model was an American expatriate who married a French banker, and became notorious in Parisian high society for her beauty and rumored infidelities. She wore lavender powder and prided herself on her appearance.
Madame X was painted not as a commission, but at the request of Sargent. It is a study in opposition. Sargent shows a woman posing in a black satin dress with jeweled straps, a dress that reveals and hides at the same time. The portrait is characterized by the pale flesh tone of the subject contrasted against a dark colored dress and background.
For Sargent, the scandal resulting from the painting's controversial reception at the Paris Salon of 1884 amounted to the failure of a strategy to build a long-term career as a portrait painter in France, though it may have helped him establish a successful career in Britain and America.
There is an assertion and showiness in the expanse of white skin - from her high forehead down her graceful neck, shoulders, and arms. Although the black of her dress is bold, it is also deep, recessive, and mysterious. She is surrounded by a rich brown which is at once luminous and dark enough to provide contrast to the skin tones. Most disconcerting is the whiteness of the skin, an overt contrivance of "aristocratic pallor"; by contrast her red ear is a jarring reminder of the color of flesh unadorned.
Sargent chose the pose for Gautreau carefully: her body boldly faces forward while her head is turned in profile. A profile is both assertion and retreat; half of the face is hidden while, at the same time, the part that shows can seem more defined than full face.
Sargent in his Paris studio, ca. 1885
The table provides support for Gautreau, and echoes her curves and stance. At the time, her pose was considered sexually suggestive. As originally exhibited, one strap of her gown had fallen down Gautreau's right shoulder, suggesting the possibility of further revelation; "One more struggle", wrote a critic in Le Figaro, "and the lady will be free". (Perhaps unknown to the critic, the bodice was constructed over a metal and whalebone foundation and could not have possibly fallen; the shoulder straps were ornamental).
The image's erotic suggestion is of a distinctly upper-class sort: unnaturally pale skin, cinched waist, severity of profile and an emphasis on aristocratic bone structure all imply a distant sexuality "under the professional control of the sitter", rather than offered for the viewer's delectation.
Classical sources, such as the figures in a fresco by Francesco de' Rossi (Il Salviati), have been suggested as inspiration for the pose. The painting features several subtle classical references: sirens of Greek mythology adorn the table's legs, and the crescent tiara worn by Gautreau symbolizes the goddess Diana. The latter was not contrived by the artist, but was part of Gautreau's self-display.
Symphony in White, No. 1, also known as The White Girl, is a painting by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. The work shows a woman in full figure standing on a wolf skin in front of a white curtain with a lily in her hand. The colour scheme of the painting is almost entirely white. The model is Joanna Hiffernan, the artist's mistress. Though the painting was originally called The White Girl, Whistler later started calling it Symphony in White, No. 1. By referring to his work in such abstract terms, he intended to emphasise his "art for art's sake" philosophy.
Whistler created the painting in the winter of 1861-62, though he later returned to it and made alterations. It was rejected both at the Royal Academy and at the Salon in Paris, but eventually accepted at the Salon des Refusés in 1863. This exhibition also featured Édouard Manet's famous Déjeuner sur l'herbe, and together the two works gained a lot of attention. The White Girl shows clearly the influence of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, with whom Whistler had recently come in contact. The painting has been interpreted by later art critics both as an allegory of innocence and its loss, and as a religious allusion to the Virgin Mary.
Whistler, especially in his later career, resented the idea that his paintings should have any meaning beyond what could be seen on the canvas. He is known as a central proponent of the "art for art's sake" philosophy. His comment on the The White Girl, denying a connection to Wilkie Collins' novel The Woman in White is one of the earliest of these assertions ("My painting simply represents a girl dressed in white standing in front of a white curtain.") Because English critics saw the painting as an illustration, they tended to be less favourable than their French colleagues, who saw it as a visionary, poetic fantasy. One English critic, referring to Collins' novel, called The White Girl "...one of the most incomplete paintings we ever met with." Since the Berners Street Gallery had used the name The Woman in White for the painting, critics were disappointed with its lack of resemblance to the novel's heroine. Whistler, who had never even read the novel, resented the comparison. About ten years later, he began referring to the painting as Symphony in White, No. 1, though a French critic had called it a Symphonie du blanc already at the time of its exhibition in Paris. By the musical analogy, he further emphasised his philosophy that the composition was the central thing, not the subject matter. The title was probably also inspired by Théophile Gautier's 1852 poem Symphonie en Blanc Majeur.
Women dressed in white was a theme to which Whistler would return in his Symphony in White, No. 2 and Symphony in White, No. 3.
Whistler was not entirely content with the realism the painting displayed in its original form, a trait he blamed on the influence Courbet had on him at the time. Later, between 1867 and 1872, he reworked it to give it a more spiritual expression. Even though Symphony was begun before Whistler first met Rossetti, the Pre-Raphaelite influence is still clear. The painting was an early experiment in white on white, with a woman standing in a white dress in front of a white background. This colour scheme was a subject he would return to later, in two paintings that would be given the titles of Symphony in White, No. 2 (1864) and Symphony in White, No. 3 (1865-67). The panel is long and slender, and the model's pose and the shape of her clothes further emphasise the vertical nature of the painting. The woman is bold, almost confrontational, in her direct gaze at the viewer, and her features are highly individualised. Art critic Hilton Kramer sees in Whistler's portraits a charm and a combination of craft and observational skills that his more radical landscapes lacked.
Though Whistler himself resented attempts to analyse the meaning of his art, this has not deterred later critics from doing so. The 19th-century French art critic Jules-Antoine Castagnary saw in the painting symbols of lost innocence, a theme that has been picked up by later critics. Art historian Wayne Craven also sees the painting as more than a formalist exercise, and finds "enigmatic, expressive and even erotic undercurrents" in the image. He points to the contrasts presented by the imagery, with the white lily representing innocence and virginity, and the fierce animal head on the rug symbolising the loss of innocence. Beryl Schlossman, coming from the perspective of literary criticism, sees allusions to the Madonna of religious art in the work. To Schlossman, the rug under the woman's feet is the cloud on which the Virgin is often seen standing, and the bear is the serpent, crushed under her heel.
Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket is a painting of c. 1875 by James Abbott McNeill Whistler that exemplified the Art for art's sake movement - a concept formulated by Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier. This painting was first shown at the Grosvenor Gallery in London in 1877 and is one of two works (the other being Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Firewheel) inspired by the Cremorne Gardens, a celebrated pleasure resort in London. One of his many works from his series of Nocturnes, it is the last of the London Nocturnes and is now widely acknowledged to be the high point of Whistler's middle period. Whistler's depiction of the industrial city park in The Falling Rocket includes a foggy fireworks display in the night sky. Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket is most famously known as the inception of the lawsuit between Whistler and the art critic John Ruskin.Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket is fundamentally composed of bleak tones, with three main colors: blue, green, and yellow. Restricted in its use of colors, the piece develops a muted yet harmonious composition. The billowing smoke gives the viewer a clear distinction between the water and the sky, where the separation blurs into a cohesive and somber space. It is this large avalanche of fog that represents the rocket of the title. Dabs of yellow enliven the artwork as exploding fireworks in the misty air. The figures watching are almost transparent, their shapes general and simplistic. To the left, the artist signs his name in a manner that has clearly been influenced by Japanese prints, with thick, straight brushstrokes that appear to imitate Japanese letters. Influenced by Japanese artists like Utagawa Hiroshige, Whistler spent years perfecting his splatter technique. Eventually he possessed the ability to make an object or person with what appeared to be nothing more than a single flick of paint. Although Whistler's critics denounced his technique as reckless or lacking artistic merit, it's notable that Whistler spent much of his time with meticulous details, often going so far as to view his work through mirrors to ensure that no deficiencies were overlooked. Henry Ossawa Tanner (June 21, 1859 - May 25, 1937) was an African-American artist. He was the first African-American painter to gain international acclaim. He moved to Paris in 1891 to study, and decided to stay there, being readily accepted in French artistic circles. His painting entitled Daniel in the Lions Den was accepted into the 1896 Salon.
After teaching himself some art, he had enrolled as a young man in 1879 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. He was the only black student and became a favorite of the painter Thomas Eakins, who had recently started teaching there. He also made other connections among artists, including Robert Henri. In the late 1890s he was sponsored for a trip to Palestine by Rodman Wanamaker, who was impressed by his paintings of Biblical themes.
In 1893 on a short return visit to the United States, Tanner painted his most famous work, The Banjo Lesson, while in Philadelphia. The painting shows an elderly black man teaching a boy, assumed to be his grandson, how to play the banjo. This deceptively simple-looking work explores several important themes. Blacks had long been stereotyped as entertainers in American culture, and the image of a black man playing the banjo appears throughout American art of the late 19th century. Thomas Worth, Willy Miller, Walter M. Dunk, Eastman Johnson, and Tanner's teacher Thomas Eakins had tackled the subject in their artwork.
These images are often reduced to a minstrel-type portrayal. Tanner painted a sensitive reinterpretation. Instead of a generalization, the painting portrays a specific moment of human interaction. The two characters concentrate intently on the task before them. They seem to be oblivious to the rest of the world, which enlarges the sense of real contact and cooperation. The skillfully painted portraits of the individuals make it obvious that these are real people and not types.
In addition to being a meaningful exploration of human qualities, the piece is masterfully painted. Tanner undertakes the difficult endeavor of portraying two separate and varying light sources. A natural white, blue glow from outside enters from the left while the warm light from a fireplace is apparent on the right. The figures are illuminated where the two light sources meet; some have hypothesized this as a manifestation of Tanner's situation in transition between two worlds, his American past and his newfound home in France.
Trinity Church in the City of Boston, located in the Back Bay of Boston, Massachusetts, is a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. The congregation, currently standing at approximately 3,000 households, was founded in 1733. Four services are offered each Sunday, and weekday services are offered three times a week from September through June. Trinity is considered "Low Church", while continuing to be a Broad Church parish.
In addition to worship, the parish is actively involved in service to the community, pastoral care, programs for children and teenagers, and Christian education for all ages.
The church is home to several high-level choirs, including the Trinity Choir, Trinity Schola, Trinity Choristers, and Trinity Chamber Choir.
After its former site on Summer Street burned in the Great Boston Fire of 1872, the current church complex was erected under the direction of Rector Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), one of the best-known and most charismatic preachers of his time. The church and parish house were designed by Henry Hobson Richardson and construction took place from 1872 to 1877, when the complex was consecrated. Situated on Copley Square in Back Bay, Trinity Church is the building that established Richardson's reputation. It is the birthplace and archetype of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, characterized by a clay roof, polychromy, rough stone, heavy arches, and a massive tower. This style was soon adopted for a number of public buildings across the United States.
The building's plan is a modified Greek Cross with four arms extending outwards from the central tower, which stands 64 m (211 ft) tall. The church is situated in Copley Square, in the shadow of the John Hancock Tower. Having been built in Boston's Back Bay, which was originally a mud flat, Trinity rests on some 4500 wooden piles, each driven through 30 feet of gravel fill, silt, and clay, and constantly wetted by the water table of the Back Bay so they do not rot if exposed to air.
"David's Charge to Solomon" (1882), a stained-glass window by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, in Trinity Church.
Its interior murals, which cover over 21,500 square feet (about 2,000 m²) were completed entirely by American artists. Richardson and Brooks decided that a richly colored interior was essential and turned to John La Farge (1835-1910) for help. La Farge had never performed a commission on this scale, but realized its importance and asked only for his costs to be covered. The results established La Farge's reputation.
The church's windows were originally clear glass at consecration in 1877, with one exception, but soon major windows were added. Four windows were designed by Edward Burne-Jones and executed by William Morris. Another four windows were exceptional commissions by John La Farge, and revolutionized window glass with their layering of opalescent glass.
Albumen print of Trinity Church detail, ca. 1877-1898
Trinity Church is the only church in the United States and the only building in Boston that has been honored as one of the "Ten Most Significant Buildings in the United States" by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In 1885, architects voted Trinity Church as the most important building in the U.S.; Trinity Church is the only building from the original 1885 list still included in the AIA's current top ten list. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 30, 1970.
The church also houses sculptures by Daniel Chester French and Augustus Saint-Gaudens
The Wainwright Building (also known as the Wainwright State Office Building) is a 10-story red brick office building at 709 Chestnut Street in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. The Wainwright Building is among the first skyscrapers in the world. It was designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan in the Palazzo style and built between 1890 and 1891. It was named for local brewer, building contractor, and financier Ellis Wainwright.
The building, listed as a landmark both locally and nationally, is described as "a highly influential prototype of the modern office building" by the National Register of Historic Places. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright called the Wainwright Building "the very first human expression of a tall steel office-building as Architecture."
The building is currently owned by the State of Missouri and houses state offices.
In May 2013 it was listed by a PBS program as one of "10 Buildings That Changed America" because it was "the first skyscraper that truly looked the part" with Sullivan being dubbed the "Father of Skyscrapers."
Aesthetically, the Wainwright Building exemplifies Sullivan's theories about the tall building, which included a tripartite (three-part) composition (base-shaft-attic) based on the structure of the classical column, and his desire to emphasize the height of the building. He wrote: "[The skyscraper] must be tall, every inch of it tall. The force and power of altitude must be in it the glory and pride of exaltation must be in it. It must be every inch a proud and soaring thing, rising in sheer exultation that from bottom to top it is a unit without a single dissenting line." His 1896 article cited his Wainwright Building as an example. Despite the classical column concept, the building's design was deliberately modern, featuring none of the neoclassical style that Sullivan held in contempt.
The piers read as pillars
Historian Carl W. Condit described the Wainwright as "a building with a strong, vigorously articulated base supporting a screen that constitutes a vivid image of powerful upward movement." The base contained retail stores that required wide glazed openings; Sullivan's ornament made the supporting piers read as pillars. Above it the semi-public nature of offices up a single flight of stairs are expressed as broad windows in the curtain wall. A cornice separates the second floor from the grid of identical windows of the screen wall, where each window is "a cell in a honeycomb, nothing more". The building's windows and horizontals were inset slightly behind columns and piers, as part of a "vertical aesthetic" to create what Sullivan called "a proud and soaring thing." This perception has since been criticized as the skyscraper were designed to make money, not to serve as a symbol.
The intricate frieze along the top of the building along with the bull's-eye windows.
The ornamentation for the building includes a wide frieze below the deep cornice,which expresses the formalized yet naturalistic celery-leaf foliage typical of Sullivan and published in his System of Architectural Ornament, decorated spandrels between the windows on the different floors and an elaborate door surround at the main entrance. "Apart from the slender brick piers, the only solids of the wall surface are the spandrel panels between the windows..... They have rich decorative patterns in low relief, varying in design and scale with each story." The frieze is pierced by unobtrusive bull's-eye windows that light the top-story floor, originally containing water tanks and elevator machinery. The building includes embellishments of terra cotta, a building material that was gaining popularity at the time of construction.
One of Sullivan's primary concerns was the development of an architectural symbolism consisting of simple geometric, structural forms and organic ornamentation. The Wainwright Building where he juxtaposed the objective-tectonic and the subjective-organic was the first demonstration of this symbolism.
The Adams Memorial is a grave marker located in Section E of Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C., featuring a cast bronze allegorical sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The shrouded figure is seated against a granite block which forms one side of a hexagonal plot, designed by architect Stanford White.Erected in 1891, the monument was commissioned by author/historian Henry Adams (a member of the Adams political family) as a memorial to his wife, Marian "Clover" Hooper Adams. Marian Adams, suffering from depression, had died by suicide through the ingestion of potassium cyanide, which she otherwise used to retouch photographs. Adams advised Saint-Gaudens to contemplate iconic images from Buddhist devotional art. One such subject, Kannon (also known as Guan Yin, the Bodhisattva of compassion), is frequently depicted as a seated figure draped in cloth. In particular, a painting of Kannon by Kanō Motonobu, in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and shown to Saint-Gaudens by John LaFarge, is said to have played a major role in influencing the conception and design of this sculpture. Henry Adams, who traveled to Japan with LaFarge ostensibly to find inspiration for this memorial, particularly wanted elements of serenely immovable Buddhist human figures to be contrasted with the waterfall-like robe associated with Kannon. In addition to the still and flowing elements, the monument's dualism includes male-female fusion in the figure itself and blends Asian and European ideals of figure. These checks to the standard heroic figure combine to make a "countermonument" for a woman who disliked monuments generally. Saint-Gaudens may also have been influenced by Parisian funerary art from his stay in France. The landscape painter George Inness once explained, "The true purpose of the painter is simply to reproduce in other minds the impression which a scene has made upon him . . . to awaken an emotion." Inness sought, particularly in his later years, to record not so much the appearance of nature as its poetry. To achieve this, he limited his subject matter to, in his words, "rivers, streams, the rippling brook, the hillside, the sky, the clouds." For half a century, the artist captured these moisture-laden subjects in all seasons, during all hours of the day and night. First he made small, quick sketches in the field or wood, and then, in the seclusion of his studio, he used them to create the more than one thousand oils credited to him.
The Home of the Heron was completed late in Inness's career, after he had finally achieved a degree of comfort and success. The painting is characteristic of his late work, with loosely rendered detail and dim objects that seem bathed in an almost incandescent glow. The picture's blurred outlines, broad handling, and delicate, subtle tonalities, as well as the solitary presence of the heron, masterfully evoke nature's stillness and mystery. With thirty-two canvases by Inness, the Art Institute has one of the most comprehensive collections of the painter's work.
During the final years of his life, George Inness and his family spent their winters in Tarpon Springs on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Although his health was failing, Inness continued to paint in Florida and produced some of his most subtle, evocative work there. The Home of the Heron was inspired by the marshy landscape and seemingly endless sunsets of the South. Influenced by eighteenth-century theologian Emmanuel Swedenborg's philosophy, Inness's spiritual beliefs are the guiding force of his work. In this painting, the artist adopted modes of abstraction to convey spiritual associations and to capture the otherworldliness of the marsh at sunset.
Though intimate and small in scale, Dead Bird is one of Ryder's most powerful images. It is also a testimony to his masterful draftsmanship, even as it explores a recurrent illusory theme: the coexistence of the corporeal and ethereal. With uncharacteristic directness, Ryder suggests an association with traditional nineteenth-century memento mori images. Starkly realistic details such as the rigidly curled claws, rendered in heavy impasto, and the subtle textural contrasts of plumage and beak, create a moving evocation of suffering and death. Enhancing the mood is a thin veil of paint surrounding the bird; this diaphanous layer of oil was laid on in short, sketchy strokes suggesting rapid, though careful, execution.
While in his Biblical scenes Ryder's approach is imaginative and narrative, in the Dead Bird it is spontaneous and direct. Although a bird was often used as a symbol of the soul, the dead bird appeared in the literature and imagery of Ryder's contemporaries as a "lamentation over lost innocence" and lost love.
Ryder was an American painter best known for his poetic and moody allegorical works and seascapes, as well as his eccentric personality. While his art shared an emphasis on subtle variations of color with tonalist works of the time, it was unique for accentuating form in a way that some art historians regard as modernist.
18.3 x 20.0 cm (7 3/16 x 7 7/8 in.)
A platinum print photograph entitled 'Ebony and Ivory', taken by Fred Holland Day, c. 1897.
In 1896-1897 Day made a series of studies of male nudes, often using black models, which he posed in allegorical compositions.
The small plaster statuette was used in other photographs by Day, it was a copy of a Hellenistic bronze from Herculaneum, in the Museo Nazionale in Naples, Italy.
Although masked in the guise of exoticism or allegory, Day's male figure studies—many of them nudes—have an undeniable element of eroticism. Although the artist's sexuality was not discussed at the time, the esthete Day's lifelong bachelorhood, his admiration and publication of Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, his flamboyant manner, and his ongoing interest in photographing male nudes leads one to conclude that these studies were more than mere forays into the exotic or demonstrations of technical prowess in studio lighting and subtle platinum printing. The overt celebration of his model's majestic countenance and muscled torso in An Ethiopian Chief and the exquisite rendering of dark skin against a black background in Ebony and Ivory point to a genuine delectation for his subject.
The photograph, titled Ebony and Ivoery, is of a black man holding a small Greek statue figurine. The man is J.R. Carter, a professional model that Day used in multiple works. Carter seated in the nude, on a platform covered with an animal print cloth, against a matte black background. The cloth and the darkness of his body heighten the racialized dynamic of the image. The placement of Carter's black body against a black background is abnormal as the common practice was placing black bodies against white background in order to enhance the contrast. Instead the body gets lost, sucked in by his black surroundings. The Greek statue pops animal skin cloth the man Carter sits are the only thing that breaks up the immense and overwhelming blackness of the photo. We see a faint silhouette of his face. His features are so shadowed though that it fades into the background. The play of light on Carter's muscled body against the matte background creates an interesting play of textures that speaks directly to the implied hardness of the material of Greek figurine held in the sitters hand. The light is so bright against the small statue that it becomes a silhouette in white, softer than the hand that is holding it.
F. Holland Day (1864-1933), the Photographer of this photo was a Boston Born, Photographer. He began photography as a hobby in 1886 . By 1889 he joined a professional Camera club. Possibly because of his own background, being the first generation to receive an education and have a strong interest in the arts from his family, Day worked closely with a Children's Aid society to help poor children with reading and artistic pursuits. One of the most famous children mentored by Day was Kahlil Gibran. Day also funded Gibran's education. In 1895 Day opened his own Photography studio, the studio where this photo was taken.
Photography was tool Day used to speak to and play with the way the world was imagined. This photograph does a fantastic job of showing this. The image, though not a classic painting brings that to mind. By playing with the classical male figure, but using a black body holding a classical body as imagined, a classical body that is white, the photograph forces a certain dialogue to happen. The role of Black and White, not just in photography, but in our social and historical perceptions of bodies is in question. The celebration of an the male form the a black male body brings to mind questions about gender and sexuality, questions that swirled around F. Holland Day himself.
Gelatin silver print
9 7/8 x 7 13/16
The guardian angel figure, hand upraised as if in blessing, consoles the cowering woman within a protective stand of California western juniper trees. Their faces obscured, the women portray archetypes rather than individuals. Trees tortured by lightning and twisted by the winds recur in Anne Brigman's work, symbolizing independence and an adaptation to life's adversity.
In order to achieve a sense of atmosphere appropriate to the scene, Brigman altered her negative by hand, drawing and scratching lines onto the negative before printing. She created the halo above the figure's head at left and the sweep of lines meant to appear as a translucent, windblown garment on the figure at the right.
Born in Hawaii, Anne Brigman moved to California when she was sixteen years old. Trained as a painter, she turned to photography in 1902. "[S]lim, hearty, unaffected women of early maturity living a hardy out-of-door life in high boots and jeans, toughened to wind and sun" were Brigman's favored subjects, and she photographed them nude in the landscape of the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California.
Brigman was one of two original California members of the art photography group the Photo-Secession, founded by Alfred Stieglitz, and she was the only Western photographer to be made a Fellow of the group. Three issues of Camera Work featured her photographs, and the British Linked Ring society of photographers elected her a member. Around 1929 she moved to Long Beach in Southern California, where she continued to photograph, focusing on a series of sand erosions. A year before her death in Eagle Rock, near Los Angeles, in 1950, she published a book of her poems and photographs titled Songs of a Pagan.
Painting - oil on canvas
John Haberle, with his contemporaries William Harnett and John Peto, was one of the most important trompe l'oeil still-life painters in late nineteenth-century America. Of them, Haberle was specially noted for his style (the microscopic painting of detail) and for his favorite subject (money). He was also an artist of great aesthetic sensibility and inventive power, as seen in the refined and subtle compositional arrangement of Imitation. Judging from the multileveled plays on reality and identity in Imitation—his signature, the imitated clipping on the imitated frame, and the imitated tintype portrait photograph—he was also richly endowed with a keen wit and intelligence.
When Imitation was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1887, it became the first of Haberle's trompe l'oeil paintings to receive public recognition. It was acquired from the exhibition by the most important collector of American art of the period, Thomas B. Clarke (one of Winslow Homer's principal patrons). Clarke reported that the painting, "which created so much talk in the National Academy of Design," was particularly admired by William Harnett, who "said that he had never seen such reproduction anywhere."
Among its many virtues, Imitation is in a pristine state of preservation. It is unlined and has its original varnish and frame, which still bears Thomas B. Clarke's monogram.
Right and Left is a 1909 oil on canvas painting by the American artist Winslow Homer. It depicts a pair of Common Goldeneye ducks at the moment they are hit by a hunter's shotgun blast as they attempt to take flight. Completed less than two years before his death, it was Homer's last great painting, and has been the subject of a variety of interpretations regarding its origin, composition and meaning. As with his other late masterworks, it represents a return to the sporting and hunting subjects of Homer's earlier years, and was to be his final engagement with the theme. Its design recalls that of Japanese art, and the composition resembles that of a colored engraving by John James Audubon.For its "restrained color and extraordinary composition" the painting's debt to Japanese art has been noted by art historians. It has been compared to avian subjects by Okyo Maruyama, Hiroshige, and Hokusai, and was included in a major Japonisme exhibition in Paris in 1988. As well, it resembles John James Audubon's plate Golden-Eye Duck.
John James Audubon. Golden-Eye Duck.
Against the tradition of birds painted as dead still life objects, Right and Left is unique for its depiction of the very moment of death. Despite their rapid movement, the birds are seen as if frozen in a snapshot, and the viewer is literally afforded a bird's eye view, in the line of the hunter's fire. Though the painting represents violent action, its formal aesthetic is that of sharply focused detachment, and has been described by Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr. of the National Gallery of Art as "a staggeringly beautiful and almost oriental arrangement of birds--just abstract shapes against bands of the subtlest cream and grey".
The design consists of four horizontal bands of sea and sky which are connected by a series of vertical and diagonal shapes formed by the ducks' bodies— the one at left (male) struggling to ascend, its partner in a similar position but turned 90 degrees, already falling limp— and wave crests. Additionally, the birds' webbed feet and beaks and the boat's bow repeat the jagged contours of the waves. Half hidden, the hunters occupy an ambiguous position, and it is uncertain whether the line above them denotes the horizon or a fog bank. Atop this line is the rim of the sun, depicted as a red sliver. At the right is a stray feather which "serves as an exclamation point for the whole composition."
Although it is a painting of a sporting subject, and thus was part of a popular anecdotal tradition, given both the violence of the subject and the fact that it was painted the year before Homer's death, Right and Left has invited metaphysical interpretation. For art historian John Wilmerding, the painting embodied "a sense of the momentary and the universal, mortality illuminated by showing these creatures at the juncture of life and death". It represents the summation of Homer's sporting pictures, and presents its subject with an "almost testamentary finality".
It has also been suggested that in addition to summarizing interests that were lifelong for Homer, as well as referring to the works of previous artists, a modern and ironic meaning may have been intended as well: in 1908 air travel was a novel and transforming human achievement, one fraught with the adventure and danger of flight. Considering his worldly and pictorial intelligence, it is possible that Homer intended Right and Left as an oblique reference to this aspect of modern life.
Ellen Day Hale (1855-1940) may not be as famous as her contemporary Mary Cassatt, but she is only one of a long list of talented American women artists who were active at the turn of the nineteenth century, including Cecilia Beaux, Elizabeth Nourse, and Hale's sister-in-law Lilian Westcott Hale (whose husband Philip was a painter too). Like Cassatt, Hale studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and in Paris where Self Portrait was probably created in 1885.
In this self portrayal, Hale possesses a determination and strength apparent not only in her gaze but also in the prominence of her hand. Twenty five years later, though, in a portrait done by her friend Margaret Lesley Bush- Brown, she has been transformed by age and the circumstances of life. Her confident, almost defiant spirit has been replaced by what seems a sense of vulnerability and sadness.
Would Hale's interpretation of herself be different, if she had decided to create her own self-portrait at the time? For she still had a productive career that extended well into her eighties.
One of Mary Cassatt's most famous paintings, In the Loge, 1880, a portrait of a woman at the opera, is also one of her most complex and interesting. She seems to anticipate the literature of the gaze as developed by Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, and others. Feminists have seen clear patterns of power expressed in the gaze, especially when men gaze at women who may be sexual objects. When we look at the painting we are ourselves gazing at a woman who is wholly unaware of us-yet the painting itself presents her to us in a way that belies what we actually see. Of course, we are meant to gaze at this woman, but Cassatt has dressed her completely in black. And she has dressed her completely from top to toe so that we see more an emblem of a woman than a woman for whom we may have some desire. Does Cassatt somehow give us a sense of power in relation to this woman?
Then, the woman is engaged in gazing at a distant figure. We can safely assume she is gazing at another person, but a woman or a man? What clues might help us know? One might have assumed that she was gazing at another woman to compare fashions, but given her own scant interest in fashion, is that really likely? Is it possible she is looking at another woman with a sense of desire? Or is it more likely she is looking at a man with a sense of desire? We see a man, rendered very small, with his opera glasses gazing at the woman herself. What is his motive in studying her so closely? His rakish posture implies a sexual interest. We have here an example of triangulation of desire a la Rene Girard and Eve Sedgwick, and we are involved.
All of this may be very innocent, just Cassatt's comment on the opera as a social experience rather than as a dramatic musical experience. The lighting in the painting suggests that the opera has not yet started, and the angle of the woman's opera glasses suggest she is, like the man, studying a member of the audience. But the point of the painting seems to be that there is as much drama in the audience as on stage. Cassatt gives us a range of possibilities in terms of the relationship of figures in the painting to one another as well as our own relationship to all the figures in the painting. The power of the gaze is expressed everywhere in the painting, and Cassatt certainly understands that the act of viewing-whether of a painting or living beings-gives the viewer power over what is seen, if only temporarily and if only partially.
One obvious benefit from our gazing at this painting is our own pleasure. Color, form, the expression of figures in the composition-all these conduce to a pleasurable experience. Such pleasure may be a form of power as a natural consequence of a careful aesthetic engagement.
Cushing posed for this portrait in Eakins's studio. Eakins depicts the anthropologist in an eclectic costume that Cushing assembled from a variety of sources after joining the tribe. Behind him to the left is a spear propped against the wall next to his Zuni shield. In the lower right-hand corner, a Zuni bowl rests on the edge of a small altar. The setting is a kiva, a chamber excavated underground where the Zunis conducted ritual ceremonies. Though Cushing is surrounded by artifacts from his greatest experience, his years out west eventually took a toll on his health. He died 5 years after posing for this portrait, at the age of 42. In the end, Cushing's career bore a remarkable similarity to Eakins's: both were recognized for their talents but heavily criticized during their lifetimes for their unorthodox ways.
Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins (July 25, 1844 - June 25, 1916) was an American realist painter, photographer, sculptor, and fine arts educator. He is widely acknowledged to be one of the most important artists in American art history.
For the length of his professional career, from the early 1870s until his health began to fail some 40 years later, Eakins worked exactingly from life, choosing as his subject the people of his hometown of Philadelphia. He painted several hundred portraits, usually of friends, family members, or prominent people in the arts, sciences, medicine, and clergy. Taken en masse, the portraits offer an overview of the intellectual life of Philadelphia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; individually, they are incisive depictions of thinking persons.
In addition, Eakins produced a number of large paintings which brought the portrait out of the drawing room and into the offices, streets, parks, rivers, arenas, and surgical amphitheaters of his city. These active outdoor venues allowed him to paint the subject which most inspired him: the nude or lightly clad figure in motion. In the process he could model the forms of the body in full sunlight, and create images of deep space utilizing his studies in perspective. Eakins also took a keen interest in the new technologies of motion photography, a field in which he is now seen as an innovator.
No less important in Eakins' life was his work as a teacher. As an instructor he was a highly influential presence in American art. The difficulties which beset him as an artist seeking to paint the portrait and figure realistically were paralleled and even amplified in his career as an educator, where behavioral and sexual scandals truncated his success and damaged his reputation.
Eakins was a controversial figure whose work received little by way of official recognition during his lifetime. Since his death, he has been celebrated by American art historians as "the strongest, most profound realist in nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century American art".
The Gross Clinic, or, The Clinic of Dr. Gross, is an 1875 painting by American artist Thomas Eakins. It is oil on canvas and measures 8 feet (240 cm) by 6.5 feet (200 cm). Dr. Samuel D. Gross, a seventy-year-old professor dressed in a black frock coat, lectures a group of Jefferson Medical College students. Included among the group is a self-portrait of Eakins, who is seated to the right of the tunnel railing, sketching or writing. Seen over Dr. Gross's right shoulder is the clinic clerk, Dr. Franklin West, taking notes on the operation. Eakins's signature is painted into the painting, on the front of the surgical table.Admired for its uncompromising realism, The Gross Clinic has an important place documenting the history of medicine—both because it honors the emergence of surgery as a healing profession (previously, surgery was associated primarily with amputation), and because it shows us what the surgical theater looked like in the nineteenth century. The painting is based on a surgery witnessed by Eakins, in which Gross treated a young man for osteomyelitis of the femur. Gross is pictured here performing a conservative operation as opposed to an amputation (which is how the patient would normally have been treated in previous decades). Here, surgeons crowd around the anesthetized patient in their frock coats. This is just prior to the adoption of a hygienic surgical environment (see asepsis). The Gross Clinic is thus often contrasted with Eakins's later painting The Agnew Clinic (1889), which depicts a cleaner, brighter, surgical theater. In comparing the two, the advancement in understanding of the prevention of infection is seen. Another noteworthy difference in the later painting is the presence of a professional nurse, Mary Clymer, in the operating theater.
It is assumed that the patient depicted in The Gross Clinic was a teenage boy, although the exposed body is not entirely discernible as male or female; the painting is shocking for both the odd presentation of this figure and the matter-of-fact goriness of the procedure. Adding to the drama is the lone woman in the painting seen in the middle ground, possibly the patient's mother, cringing in distress. Her dramatic figure functions as a strong contrast to the calm, professional demeanor of the men who surround the patient. This bloody and very blunt depiction of surgery was shocking at the time it was first exhibited.
Jacob August Riis (May 3, 1849 - May 26, 1914) was a Danish American social reformer, "muckraking" journalist and social documentary photographer. He is known for using his photographic and journalistic talents to help the impoverished in New York City; those impoverished New Yorkers were the subject of most of his prolific writings and photography. He endorsed the implementation of "model tenements" in New York with the help of humanitarian Lawrence Veiller. Additionally, as one of the most famous proponents of the newly practicable casual photography, he is considered one of the fathers of photography due to his very early adoption of flash in photography. While living in New York, Riis experienced poverty and became a police reporter writing about the quality of life in the slums. He attempted to alleviate the bad living conditions of poor people by exposing their living conditions to the middle and upper classes.
Riis had for some time been wondering how to show the squalor of which he wrote more vividly than his words could express. He tried sketching, but was incompetent at this. Camera lenses of the 1880s were slow—necessarily, for depth of field despite their considerable focal length—as was the emulsion of photographic plates; photography thus did not seem to be of any use for reporting about conditions of life in dark interiors. In early 1887, however, Riis was startled to read that "a way had been discovered [. . .] to take pictures by flashlight. The darkest corner might be photographed that way." The German innovation, by Adolf Miethe and Johannes Gaedicke, flash powder was a mixture of magnesium with potassium chlorate and some antimony sulfide for added stability; the powder was used in a pistol-like device that fired cartridges. This was the introduction of flash photography.
Recognizing the potential of the flash, Riis informed a friend, Dr John Nagle, chief of the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the City Health Department who was also a keen amateur photographer. Nagle found two more photographer friends, Henry Piffard and Richard Hoe Lawrence, and the four of them began to photograph the slums. Their first report was published in the New York newspaper The Sun on February 12, 1888; it was an unsigned article by Riis which described its author as "an energetic gentleman, who combines in his person, though not in practice, the two dignities of deacon in a Long Island church and a police reporter in New York". The "pictures of Gotham's crime and misery by night and day" are described as "a foundation for a lecture called 'The Other Half: How It Lives and Dies in New York.' to give at church and Sunday school exhibitions, and the like." The article was illustrated by twelve line drawings based on the photographs.
Riis and his photographers were among the first Americans to use flash photography. Pistol lamps were dangerous and looked threatening, and would soon be replaced by another method for which Riis lit magnesium powder on a frying pan. The process involved removing the lens cap, igniting the flash powder and replacing the lens cap; the time taken to ignite the flash powder sometimes allowed a visible image blurring created by the flash.
Riis's first team soon tired of the late hours, and Riis had to find other help. Both his assistants were lazy and one was dishonest, selling plates for which Riis had paid. Riis sued him in court successfully. Nagle suggested that Riis should become self-sufficient, so in January 1888 Riis paid $25 for a 4×5 box camera, plateholders, a tripod and equipment for developing and printing. He took the equipment to the potter's field cemetery on Hart Island to practice, making two exposures. The result was seriously overexposed but successful.
For some three years Riis combined his own photographs with others commissioned of professionals, donations by amateurs and purchased lantern slides, all of which formed the basis for his photographic archive.
Because so much of the work was done at night, he was able to photograph the worst elements of the New York slums, the dark streets, tenement apartments, and "stale-beer" dives, and documented the hardships faced by the poor and criminal, especially in the vicinity of notorious Mulberry Street.
A robust and vigorous man, George Bellows played semiprofessional baseball before moving to New York City to study art under Robert Henri. There, Bellows found that corruption had made public boxing illegal. Private sport clubs managed to circumvent the law, but they also barred the fighters, who were deemed socially unacceptable, from joining. The title of Both Members of This Club refers to the practice of granting "membership" to boxers only for the duration of their bouts. Bellows indicated his low opinion of the elitist crowd by converting them into grotesque caricatures roaring approval of the bloodshed. Creating a sense of immediacy, three rows of spectators block off our view, and the ringside ropes loom overhead.
The location is Tom Sharkey's Athletic Club. (Sharkey's is also the setting for Bellows' Club Night of 1907 in the National Gallery, the first of his six oil paintings of boxing matches.) The black contestant is Joe Gans, lightweight champion for eight years. Gans' famous "right punch after blocking a lead" may have led Bellows to record that maneuver for its own sake.
"The boxing pictures could be characterized as a type of Action Painting, 40 years before the term was coined by the critic Harold Rosenberg," says Brock. "The movements of the fighters and the physical reality of blood and sinew are virtually indistinguishable from painterly gestures embedded in the pigments themselves." Through paintings, drawings, and lithographs (often political images published in left-leaning magazines), the exhibition highlights Bellows's extraordinary range of styles and subjects, including sports competitions, views of New York teeming with both privileged and working-class life, Maine seascapes, female portraits, and World War I pictures influenced by Goya. "He was continually experimental, which is very much a modernist notion," says Brock, "and his topics remain very current too—violence, issues of race, political elections, the role of women, large-scale urban enterprises."
A crowd gathers in front of a hairdresser's storefront, some looking up to see her with a customer in the window. Many details, including the name of the hairdresser, are taken from life adding vividness and a reportorial character to the scene. Yet Lobel notes that the hairdresser coloring her customer's hair is like an artist adding paint to canvas.
He even notices that the hairdresser's glasses and stub nose resemble the artist's. You can compare them to one of Sloan's self-portraits at left.
He adds that this androgynous change is announced in a sign next to the hairdresser's window. It reads "Madame Malcomb" but the word "Madame" seems to be crossed out by a horizontal shadow, as if to imply that Madame Malcomb is not a woman but a man.
Lobel goes on to observe that the building's facade is so crowded with signs that it resembles how gallery walls were hung in contemporary exhibitions. One is even titled Ung Low Chop Suey, a pun on how artists used to describe the best position on a gallery wall. They invariably wanted pictures "hung low", not up near the ceiling where they could not be seen.
Not all Lobel's insights into Sloan's paintings of the period, all correct incidentally, can be repeated here but his explanation of the hat circled with colorful flowers in the lower right corner ought to be mentioned. It represents, he writes, an artist's palette, in both its shape and colors.
Sloan noted that he saw this scene while walking to Robert Henri's studio at Fortieth Street and Lexington Avenue. In his 1939 book, Gist of Art, he commented, "Sixth Avenue had a Coney Island quality in 1907. It was the Fifth Avenue of the poor and furnished similar facilities at lower rates. The process of bleaching the hair as practised by Mme. Malcomb seems amusing to the passersby."
Two women clad in pastel dresses promenade around a fountain in New York's Union Square. Both wear hats and carry purses that match the lavenders and pale blues of their dresses perfectly. Although seemingly innocent, they arouse intense glances and whispered commentary from their fellow New Yorkers. These apparently content and self-sufficient women are the principle subjects of John Sloan's "Sunday Afternoon in Union Square" (1912). This painting concerns leisure and independent women, but its overriding theme is urban spectatorship. A noted painter of spectatorship, Sloan proudly practiced the modern sport himself, firmly believing that any true artist should meticulously observe life in order to get "in contact with real things." Independent women, and even prostitutes, were favorite subjects of Sloan's. He was attracted to both their non-conventional lifestyle and rejection of certain restrictive social rules.
Before he was a painter, Sloan worked as an illustrator in Philadelphia, providing on-the-spot drawings of events for newspapers. His background in illustrative journalism contributed to his interest in honest, everyday life.
Sloan was part of "The Eight," a group formed in 1908 after the progressive work of eight American painters had been rejected from a major exhibition at the National Academy the year before. Sloan and other members of "The Eight" are often referred to as the "Ashcan" painters because of their tendency to paint the mundane and sometimes dirty city.
Two young girls make up this painting. Their happy faces contrast with their grimy hands. George Luks successfully portrays lower-class children's ability to enjoy life despite their circumstances. He painted the truth, as he saw it. In regard to colour, Luks said himself when interviewed, "I'll tell you the whole secret! Colour is simply light and shade. You don't need pink or grey or blue so long as you have volume. Pink and blue change with light or time. Volume endures." Luks was a radical only in subject matter, not in style or technique. He was involved in the formation of the 1913 Armory Show, in which he was well represented. However, he was unable to understand or accept the genuinely radical European art, which was shown in America for the first time, and resigned from the society which had formed the show.
Luks, always lusty and belligerent, was apparently killed as the result of a tavern fight in October 1933, dying in New York on the streets which he had immortalised on many canvasses.
Fuller's Mary Turner (A Silent Protest Against the Mob) is a roughly modeled work in which a slim female figure rises from a complicated and tangled mass. An occasional hand, arm or face emerges from the expressionistically rendered plaster mass engulfing the lower portion of her form. The amorphous mass leads to a ambiguous and conflicting readings. To some viewers the main figure seems to twist and rise away from a consuming "mob," while another reading sees the figure as topping a pile of lynch mob victims. There is no portrait likeness. The viewer is not forced to observe graphic or explicit visual details narrating the horrible circumstances of Mary Turner's death. Rather, Fuller adopts and manipulates the indistinct language of Rodinesque sculptural modernism for the purposes of memorializing not just the individual victim, Mary Turner, but to raising the spectacle of violence engulfing a supposed democratic society to the level of artistic and intellectual contemplation. Fuller presents a symbolic "ascension" of the martyred mother from the torments of our earthly plane. Fuller placed the small sculptural unit on a graduated wooden base nearly one third its size. The base is reminiscent of the platforms used to physically and symbolically elevate life-size and monumental public sculpture. The base front bears a hand-shaped, faux-bronze plaque into which the artist has carved the words: IN MEMORY OF MARY TURNER AS A SILENT PROTEST AGAINST MOB VIOLENCE. Through the text, Fuller clearly announces that she modeled this miniature, commemorative sculpture as a visual protest against lynch-law.
Fuller's decision to memorialize Mary Turner has significance on a variety of artistic and historic levels. The murder of Mary Turner and the savage stomping of her unborn child must have struck a terrifying cord in the heart and mind of the artist, who was, herself, the devoted mother of three young boys born during the tumultuous years of 1915, 1916 and 1917. Although Fuller always employed the human form in her art, she once described her aesthetic concerns by emphasizing, "My work is of the soul, rather than the figure."  While this is the language of early modernist artists, it is also the tone of the discourse at the turn of the century.
Gelatin silver print
American photographer. Following several years as a factory worker in Oshkosh, and a short period at the University of Chicago, where he studied sociology and pedagogy (1900-01), he went to New York to teach at the Ethical Culture School (1901-8). There he acquired a camera as a teaching tool and soon set up a club and ran classes at the school, while improving his own skills as a self-taught photographer. In 1904 Hine's interest in social issues led him to document newly arrived immigrants at Ellis Island as a way of demonstrating their common humanity, for example Young Russian Jewess at Ellis Island (1905; see Rosenblum, Rosenblum and Trachtenberg, p. 43). Thereafter he sought to demonstrate the efficacy of the photograph as a truthful witness, accepting commissions from social-work agencies. Towards the end of the first decade he became official photographer on the Pittsburgh Survey, a seminal investigation of America's archetypal industrial city, producing such images as Tenement House and Yard (1907-8; Rosenblum, Rosenblum and Trachtenberg, p. 56).
This experience, coupled with the fact that half-tone process printing had made photographic reproduction more accessible to popular and specialized periodicals, impelled Hine to leave teaching to devote himself entirely to the documentation of social conditions. During almost a decade as staff photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), he travelled throughout the USA photographing child workers in mills, mines, on the streets and in fields and canneries. These images, for example Breaker Boys in Coal Shute, South Pittston, Pennsylvania, January, 1911 (see Rosenblum, Rosenblum and Trachtenberg, p. 59), were used by the NCLC in periodicals, pamphlets, exhibitions (for a time designed by Hine), and as lantern slides for public lectures in an effort to bring about legislation regulating child labour. Hine's photographs, however, transcend basic documentation in that he sought out poses, facial expressions and gestures that not only would be perceived as truthful but would also stir the viewer's sympathy and spur them to action.
By 1918 the aftermath of American involvement in World War I had dampened enthusiasm for reform programmes. Hine joined an American Red Cross expedition to the Balkans, where he documented devastation and dislocation unlike anything he had seen in his native land. On his return he felt moved to portray the American worker with dignity, in what he felt was a positive light. While he was able to support himself for a period by supplying images to the Survey and a number of industrial magazines, his emphasis on the human element was not in tune with the era's interest in the machine, and he suffered financially.
At the beginning of the 1930s, however, Hine won a commission to document the construction of the Empire State Building in New York. He portrayed the workers and the structure that grew from their labour with a sense of the drama involved in erecting the world's tallest building (see Rosenblum, Rosenblum and Trachtenberg, pp. 107-16). This was the last major project of documentation that Hine was called upon to do. Despite the renewed interest in social imagery in the USA during the remainder of the 1930s, and attempts by Berenice Abbott and writer Elizabeth McCausland to arouse interest in Hine and his work, the photographer was largely ignored from then until his death in 1940.
Arthur Garfield Dove spent his early years in Geneva, New York, where his father was a building contractor and brick manufacturer. He attended Hobart College before transferring to Cornell University, from which he graduated in 1903. He then moved to New York City, where he worked as an illustrator for various popular periodicals for several years. In 1908-9, Dove and his wife Florence traveled to France; in Paris, Dove associated with other young American artists such as Alfred Maurer and Max Weber, and his work was included in group exhibitions. Returning to New York, Dove met Alfred Stieglitz, who invited him to submit work to the Younger American Painters exhibition, which also included work by John Marin, Marsden Hartley, and Edward Steichen, and was held at his gallery at 291 Fifth Avenue in 1910. Dove's first one-person show was held at 291 in 1912; by then, his place in the artistic avant-garde of the Stieglitz circle was assured. In 1910 and 1911, Dove created a number of inventive works of art that used stylized, abstract forms at a remarkably early date in American art; he is considered the first American artist to have created such purely nonrepresentational imagery (49.70.77; 49.70.72). As the decade progressed, he was further influenced by Cubism, by the Expressionist work of Vasily Kandinsky, and by the writings of the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941), who stressed the importance of a mystical, rather than analytical, understanding of the world. Bergson proposed the existence of an "élan vital," a spirit or energy that constantly animates all living things in their fight for existence. This idea appealed to Dove, who himself was fascinated with natural cycles of growth and renewal and sought to make those universal harmonies visible in his work. He was also frequently inspired by the parallel between the visual arts and music (49.70.77).
In 1921, Dove left his wife and son for the artist Helen Torr, nicknamed "Reds," the wife of the illustrator Clive Weed. Dove and Torr (who would eventually marry in 1932) began living together on a houseboat docked at Halesite, on the north shore of Long Island. Dove's primary subject for his art was the local landscape, which he simplified into its essential forms with expressive color and line (49.70.40). His first-hand experience of the ocean tides, weather patterns, and seasonal cycles also informed these works, as did his quest for a symbolic color effect that he called "a condition of light." As he described the latter idea in an autobiographical essay of 1930 (published in Samuel M. Kootz, Modern American Painters, 1930), "It applied to all objects in nature, flowers, trees, people, apples, cows. These all have their certain condition of light, which establishes them to the eye, to each other, and to the understanding." During the 1920s, his experiments with various subjects and materials also resulted in a series of collages, several abstract portraits, and still lifes of domestic objects and agricultural machinery (49.70.36). After 291 closed in 1917, he continued to exhibit his work at Stieglitz's later galleries, the Intimate Gallery (1925-29) and An American Place (1929-46). Through Stieglitz, Dove also established a productive relationship with the patron and collector Duncan Phillips.
When Dove's mother died in 1933, Dove and his brother became co-executors of the family estate in Geneva, New York. Dove, who had been struggling financially, moved to Geneva with Reds and lived on his family's property while settling the debt-ridden estate. Despite his reluctance to relocate to Geneva, which he considered provincial, Dove remained there with Reds through 1938. Geneva provided him with new subject matter for his art, including the family farm, the local barnyard animals, and nearby lakes, as well as the city's more industrial downtown area of warehouses and railroad tracks. Dove made only one trip to New York City during these years, although he maintained a close correspondence with Stieglitz, who would remain a lifelong friend and supporter. In the relative isolation of Geneva, he concentrated more than ever on themes of interdependence between living creatures and their environments (49.70.37; 49.70.75) and on the purely formal appeal of natural objects' shapes and lines, which he emphasized to the point of abstraction with organic shapes and unexpected color schemes (49.70.96; 2006.32.14). He shared these interests with Georgia O'Keeffe, who was perhaps his closest ally among the other artists of the Stieglitz circle.
Georgia O'Keeffe was an illustrator, art educator, and painter, but it was a series of drawings in 1915 that launched her career as a leading figure in the modern art movement.
Stieglitz began to show O'Keeffe's work in 1916; the two artists eventually married, and he did much to promote her art in the years to come. This was especially important because art world at the time was quite sexist, and women were given relatively few opportunities to show their work.
O'Keeffe became known for abstracted cityscapes and depictions of the natural world, which she produced in New York and in the American Southwest.
City Night is a strongly vertical image that depicts New York's skyscrapers at night. The towering buildings are monolithic and show no signs of life. one building may depict the Shelton Hotel, where O'Keeffe lived at the time.
Skyscraper construction soared in the years after World War I, and these towering buildings became iconic images representing a new, modern American identity.
O'Keeffe was very familiar with the aesthetics of photography, and she borrowed from them by imitating lens flare and halation, as well as convergence, a compositional device frequently used in photography.
1925, Georgia O'Keeffe moved into the Shelton Hotel in downtown New York. In this brand new skyscraper, O'Keeffe and her husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz, had an apartment on the thirtieth floor. That high vantage point inspired O'Keeffe to paint the quickly changing cityscape of New York.
O'Keeffe's cityscapes focused on skyscrapers. During 1925, forty-five skyscrapers were built in New York, the most in one year. The skyscraper was very much an American symbol of modern technology. Many painters and photographers found themselves drawn to this new subject. From 1925 to 1929, O'Keeffe created thirty skyscraper pictures.
"One can't paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt." O'Keeffe wanted people to sense the overwhelming size of the skyscrapers being built up around her. So she painted the buildings from unusual angles and perspectives. Her husband, who photographed the skyscrapers, may have influenced how O'Keeffe painted her cityscapes. When you look at them, you feel like you are viewing them from the ground, peering up through a camera lens.
City Night is rather ominous. Two forbidding black skyscrapers look ready to topple onto each other—or maybe onto us. A mysterious light (the moon? a streetlight?) shines into the slice of blue night sky between the buildings. Another skyscraper, bright white, appears in the distance. Its shape resembles that of the Shelton Hotel, O'Keeffe's home.
In 1930, Georgia O'Keeffe painted a series of six canvases depicting a jack-in-the-pulpit. The series begins with the striped and hooded bloom rendered with a botanist's care, continues with successively more abstract and tightly focused depictions, and ends with the essence of the jack-in-the-pulpit, a haloed black pistil standing alone against a black, purple, and gray field.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. IV represents a midpoint in this process of concurrently increasing detail and abstraction. If O'Keeffe consistently found her strongest inspiration in nature, she believed that the immanence of nature could be discovered in and through the refinement of form. Thus in the jack-in-the-pulpits, abstraction becomes a metaphor of, and an equivalent for, knowledge -- the closest view of the flower yields an abstract image; the most profound knowledge of the subject reveals its abstract form.
watercolor and charcoal with paper cut-out attached with thread on paper, 21 5/8 x 26 7/8" (54.9 x 68.3 cm).
The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
American painter and printmaker. He attended Stevens Institute in Hoboken, NJ, and worked briefly as an architect before studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia from 1899 to 1901 under Thomas Pollock Anshutz and Hugh Breckenridge (1870-1937). His education was supplemented by five years of travel in Europe where he was exposed to avant-garde trends. While abroad, he made etchings of notable and picturesque sites, for example Campanile, S Pietro, Venice (1907; see Zigrosser, no. 57), which were the first works he sold.
Marin returned permanently to the USA in 1911, settling in New York and devoting the rest of his long career to painting views of the city and country. His art initially reflected the impact of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. During the next decade he first moved towards a modernist artistic statement, seen in his views of New York and nearby Weehawkin, New Jersey. The Weehawkin series (watercolour, 1910; New York, Met.) reveals a Fauvist handling and choice of colour, and an abstract sense of design, while the New York images demonstrate the artist's willingness to fragment and distort a scene for expressive purposes. Marin was one of the first artists to convey the 20th-century city in modern pictorial terms: in works such as Brooklyn Bridge (watercolour, c. 1912; New York, Met.) the urban landscape seems to erupt; buildings and streets break apart, heaving under the pressure of the frenetic pace and congestion of city life.
During the 1920s Marin's handling became even more expressive and abbreviated, at times calligraphic, seen for example in Lower Manhattan (Composing Derived from Top of Woolworth) (watercolour, 1922; New York, MOMA); objects were further simplified into fractured coloured planes; directional lines suggesting movement were added and borders painted and fragmented. His city images underwent a major transformation in the 1930s, as the figures increased in scale and became more important elements in the scenes, demonstrated in Untitled (Figures in Downtown New York City) (drawing, 1932; artist's estate, see 1971 exh. cat., p. 58). His style did not change substantially thereafter, although it became increasingly expressionistic.
The natural landscape was equally important to Marin. Both in his art and in his writings he revealed a unique sensitivity to and love of nature. He travelled frequently, visiting New Jersey, upstate New York, New England, New Mexico and Canada, to capture the nuances of varied moods in response to nature. Stylistically his landscapes parallel the evolution of the city views. They culminate in what have become perhaps his best-known works, the images of the sea along the Maine coast that he created during the 1930s, for example Composition, Cape Split, Maine, No. 3 (oil on canvas, 1933; Santa Barbara, CA, Mus. A.); these convey a primeval power.
Although he could be lyrical, Marin brought a rare vigour and intensity to the medium of watercolour. He approached it as both a painting and a graphic medium. He used oils sporadically from the early 1900s, the Weehawkin series including his most extensive early work in the medium. He did not, however, begin to devote a significant amount of his attention to oil painting until the 1930s.
Rodin moved his rejected plaster model for the Monument to Balzac to his home in Meudon, where he had had the pavilion from the retrospective exhibition of 1900 reconstructed. In the garden at Meudon, Steichen made this dramatic photograph of the work silhouetted against the night sky. The model was not cast in bronze until after Rodin's death. The bronze in the garden of the Hôtel Biron, now the Musée Rodin, in Paris was cast in 1936, and more of them have since been made. Edward Steichen is acknowledged as one of the most significant pictorialists of the early 20th century. Along with Alfred Stieglitz, he was a founding member of the Photo-Secessionists and his work epitomises the exploration of the artistic and expressive possibilities of the photographic medium by this group. Steichen represented for Stieglitz the ideal of the 'artist-photographer', as one who used a formal training in art as a basis for developing a distinct photographic aesthetic. Armed from his artistic instruction with a painter's sensibility, Steichen's photography explored the atmospheric potential of light which was rendered as an expressive force through his impeccable technical command of the medium.
Steichen first met the sculptor Auguste Rodin in 1901 when he photographed the great master at his studio in Paris. Impressed with the evocative qualities of his work, Rodin asked Steichen to photograph his sculpture of the French writer Honoré de Balzac which, rejected by its commissioning body as being too controversial a portrait, stood in its original plaster form on the grounds of Rodin's home. Accepting Rodin's suggestion of photographing the work against a moonlit landscape, Steichen spent two nights making numerous exposures, studying the varying effects of the night's sky on the figure. In 'Balzac, towards the light, midnight' Steichen powerfully re-creates the Balzac figure as a sleepless giant and a defiant presence in the expansively blackened landscape. With a symbolist's drive for metaphor underlying his practice, Steichen aligns his sculpted subject with an image of the creative will of the sculptor himself.
As proprietor of the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession and publisher of the photographic journals Camera Notes and Camera Work, Alfred Stieglitz was a major force in the promotion and elevation of photography as a fine art in America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Steerage is considered Stieglitz's signature work, and was proclaimed by the artist and illustrated in histories of the medium as his first "modernist" photograph. It marks Stieglitz's transition away from painterly prints of Symbolist subjects to a more straightforward depiction of quotidian life.
The Steerage began its life as a masterpiece four years after its creation, with Stieglitz's publication of it in a 1911 issue of Camera Work devoted exclusively to his photographs in the "new" style, together with a Cubist drawing by Picasso. Stieglitz loved to recount how the great painter had praised the collagelike dispersal of forms and shifting depths of The Steerage. Canonized retroactively, the photograph allowed Stieglitz to put his chosen medium on par with the experimental European painting and sculpture he imported and exhibited so presciently at his gallery. In 1915, he lavishly reprinted the image in large-scale photogravure on both vellum and japanese paper for inclusion in his last magazine, 291.
The scene depicts a variety of men and women traveling in the lower-class section of a steamer going from New York to Bremen, Germany. Many years after taking the photograph Stieglitz described what he saw when he took it:
"There were men and women and children on the lower deck of the steerage. There was a narrow stairway leading to the upper deck of the steerage, a small deck right on the bow of the steamer.
To the left was an inclining funnel and from the upper steerage deck there was fastened a gangway bridge that was glistening in its freshly painted state. It was rather long, white, and during the trip remained untouched by anyone.
On the upper deck, looking over the railing, there was a young man with a straw hat. The shape of the hat was round. He was watching the men and women and children on the lower steerage deck...A round straw hat, the funnel leaning left, the stairway leaning right, the white drawbridge with its railing made of circular chains - white suspenders crossing on the back of a man in the steerage below, round shapes of iron machinery, a mast cutting into the sky, making a triangular shape...I saw shapes related to each other. I saw a picture of shapes and underlying that the feeling I had about life."
Although Stieglitz described "an inclining funnel" in the scene photographs and models of the ship (see below) show that this object was actually a large mast to which booms were fastened for loading and unloading cargo. One of the booms is shown at the very top of the picture.
Much has been written about scene as a cultural document of an important period when many immigrants were coming to America. In fact, the picture was taken on a cruise to Europe from America, and for that reason some critics have interpreted it as recording people who were turned away by U.S. Immigration officials and were forced to go back home. Although some of the passengers might have been turned back because of failure to meet financial or health requirements for entrance, it is more likely that most of them were various artisans who worked in the booming construction trade of the time. Workers who were highly skilled in crafts such as cabinet-making, woodworking and marble laying were granted two-year temporary visas to complete their jobs and then returned to their homelands when the work was complete.
Gelatin silver print; 9 5/8 x 6 in. (24.5 x 15.2 cm)
Of this photograph Weston wrote in his Daybooks, "... seeing an old bedpan, I took one look, and fell hard. I have an exquisite negative. It might easily be called 'The Princess' or 'The Bird' [both sculptures by Constantin Brancusi]! It has a stately, aloof dignity—stood on end—'form follows function' again." Weston adopted the "form follows function" dictum, originally coined by the modern American architect Louis Sullivan to describe his aesthetic in skyscraper design, as his own credo in the mid-1920s and spent the remainder of his career extracting the essential structure of objects before his camera. Like other modernist photographers such as Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy, his work proved that the formal character of the photograph could override the content, but, unlike them, he preferred to use recognizable, everyday objects from the natural and industrial world to assert his claim. It would be difficult to find a more homely object with which to inspire an aesthetic response than an old bedpan, but Weston managed to do just that in this photograph. It eschews the documentary role of the medium so completely that the subject of the photograph becomes not the object within the frame, but the beautiful simplicity and unmannered geometry of the picture.
Francis Picabia created Here, This Is Stieglitz Here (Ici, c'est Stieglitz) in 1915, after having relocated to New York from Paris earlier that year. While in New York, the Cubist painter met the American photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who would later organize an exhibition of Picabia's works at his legendary gallery 291 and collaborate with him on the Dada publication 291 in which Here first appeared. In this portrait, Picabia is clearly referencing Duchamp's machinist aesthetic as well as his ironic wit. Part of a series of machine portraits of his artist-friends in New York, Here depicts Stieglitz as a broken bellows camera with an automobile brake attached to it that is in motion. It is important to underscore that this series of machine portraits did not celebrate the hyper-mechanized culture of the early twentieth century. Machinist imagery formed a vocabulary that Picabia drew upon in order to capture the modern human spirit. His work is not a comment on the frenzied fascination with which contemporary culture viewed the machine but, rather, a demonstration of how such mechanized symbols can successfully articulate the seemingly opposed values of an individual's sensibility. Picabia has written "Ideal" in an old-fashioned, delicate, highly detailed script that effectively contrasts with the modern-day, sleek machine upon which it perches. The elaborate Gothic font hearkens back to an outdated mode of portraiture and, generally speaking, of painting, against which Picabia is clearly working. More importantly, it addresses Stieglitz's own idealism that, according to those in his circle, had failed to inspire Americans toward self-discovery through art and photography. Indeed, Stieglitz's goal was too grandiose, hence the lofty placement of "Ideal" above the mass-produced object-an object that connotes a commercially driven reality more characteristic of America at this moment in history. Spearheading the effort to introduce the dominant artistic practices of Europe to American artists, Here embraces the humor with which Picabia and Duchamp mocked traditional artistic styles and techniques, and that would characterize their proto-Dada practices during the time they lived in New York. This photograph of a drain pipe attached to a miter box documents one of the most famous examples of American Dada. The sculpture God, a readymade in the spirit of Marcel Duchamp's upended urinal entitled Fountain, has traditionally been attributed to Schamberg, a talented photographer and painter who blended machine imagery and abstraction. Recent scholarship suggests, however, that this piece was primarily the creation of Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, who was without a doubt the most bizarre of the New York Dadaists. Poet, shoplifter, junk collector, and Duchamp worshiper, the homeless Baroness was famous for strolling the streets of Greenwich Village with cancelled postage stuck to her face and a birdcage with a live canary dangling from her neck. The irreverent title may allude to Duchamp's observation, "The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges." Schamberg, who probably aided in the realization of the piece in addition to photographing it, died in the influenza epidemic the following year. It is believed that aside from his portrait work, only seven Schamberg photographs survive. Three depict this sculpture and four present views of New York. Fountain is a 1917 work widely attributed to Marcel Duchamp. The scandalous work was a porcelain urinal, which was signed "R.Mutt" and titled Fountain. Submitted for the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917, Fountain was rejected by the committee, even though the rules stated that all works would be accepted from artists who paid the fee. Fountain was displayed and photographed at Alfred Stieglitz's studio, and the photo published in The Blind Man, but the original has been lost. The work is regarded by some art historians and theorists of the avant-garde, such as Peter Bürger, as a major landmark in 20th-century art. Replicas commissioned by Duchamp in the 1960s are now on display in a number of different museums. Marcel Duchamp arrived in the United States less than two years prior to the creation of Fountain and had become involved with Dada, an anti-rational, anti-art cultural movement, in New York City. According to one version, the creation of Fountain began when, accompanied by artist Joseph Stella and art collector Walter Arensberg, he purchased a standard Bedfordshire model urinal from the J. L. Mott Iron Works, 118 Fifth Avenue. The artist brought the urinal to his studio at 33 West 67th Street, reoriented it to a position 90 degrees from its normal position of use, and wrote on it, "R. Mutt 1917". According to another version, Fountain is the result of a collaboration. In a 1917 letter to his sister, Duchamp himself credits a female friend with the idea, as he writes to Suzanne Duchamp: "One of my female friends who had adopted the pseudonym Richard Mutt sent me a porcelain urinal as a sculpture." Duchamp never identified his collaborator, but two candidates have been proposed as collaborators. First, the Dadaist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, whose scatological aesthetics are more in line with the choice of a urinal as art than Duchamp's; and second, Louise Norton, who contributed an essay to The Blind Man discussing Fountain.
Since 'Dada' did not start until 1916 in Zurich, it is hard to believe that Duchamp became involved with Dada two years prior to Fountain, 1915. Rhonda Roland Shearer in the online journal Tout-Fait (2000) has concluded that the photograph is a composite of different photos, while other scholars such as William Camfield have never been able to match the urinal shown in the photo to any urinals found in the catalogues of the time period.
At the time Duchamp was a board member of the Society of Independent Artists. After much debate by the board members (most of whom did not know Duchamp had submitted it) about whether the piece was or was not art, Fountain was hidden from view during the show. Duchamp resigned from the Board in protest.
The New York Dadaists stirred controversy about Fountain and its being rejected in the second issue of The Blind Man which included a photo of the piece and a letter by Alfred Stieglitz, and writings by Beatrice Wood and Arensberg. The anonymous editorial (which is assumed to be written by Wood) accompanying the photograph, entitled "The Richard Mutt Case," made a claim that would prove to be important concerning certain works of art that would come after it:
Whether Mr Mutt made the fountain with his own hands or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view - created a new thought for that object.
In defense of the work being art, Wood also wrote, "The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges." Duchamp described his intent with the piece was to shift the focus of art from physical craft to intellectual interpretation.
Menno Hubregtse argues that Duchamp may have chosen Fountain as a readymade because it parodied Robert J. Coady's exaltation of industrial machines as pure forms of American art. Coady, who championed his call for American art in his publication The Soil, printed a scathing review of Jean Crotti's Portrait of Marcel Duchamp (Sculpture Made to Measure) in the December 1916 issue. Hubregtse notes that Duchamp's urinal may have been a clever response to Coady's comparison of Crotti's sculpture with "the absolute expression of a—plumber."
Shortly after its initial exhibition, Fountain was lost. According to Duchamp biographer Calvin Tomkins, the best guess is that it was thrown out as rubbish by Stieglitz, a common fate of Duchamp's early readymades.
The first reproduction of Fountain was authorized by Duchamp in 1950 for an exhibition in New York; two more individual pieces followed in 1953 and 1963, and then an artist's multiple was manufactured in an edition of eight in 1964. These editions ended up in a number of important public collections; Indiana University Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, Centre Georges Pompidou and Tate Modern. The edition of eight was manufactured from glazed earthenware painted to resemble the original porcelain, with a signature reproduced in black paint
Alexander Calder's Calder's Circus, a toy theater piece the artist constructed between 1926 and 1931, and performed for decades, has the rag bag appeal of a much-repaired stuffed animal who's loved into a state of baldness. This charm presented conservators at the Whitney Museum of American Art with a unique set of challenges. Not only were the cloth and wire structures fragile with age, they'd taken a beating during the period when they were on active duty. Alexander Calder is an artist best known for his amazing mobiles. But one of his lesser known, but equally incredible creations is the Cirque Calder - a miniature circus of wire figures and creatures created by the artist in Paris between 1926 and 1931. Calder's fascination with the circus began in 1925 when he spent two weeks sketching at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. A year later he began to make the first characters of Cirque Calder, giving miniature performances for friends all over Paris. Everyone was so impressed and amused by the circus, and Calder had so much fun making it himself, that he continued to work on the project for five more years. At its height, the Cirque Calder consisted of dozens of wire-frame acrobats, trapeze artists, exotic dancers, a knife-thrower, sword-swallower and performing animals which were rigged with thread, pulleys, cranks and springs to tumble, gallop, lift, gyrate and even catch each other in mid-air! Calder spent most of the 1920's and 1930's travelling between North America and Europe putting on shows with his "circus in a suitcase."Made of wood, bronze, cork, fabric scraps, beads, and bits of jewellery, each figure and animal in the performance has its own personality. Each performer is the perfect mix of toy and sculpture. Some of the most incredible figures include the weightlifter, who can bend, pick up a set of weights, straighten up and put the weights down; the trapeze artists who can swing and catch each other in mid-air with precision; the ambulence unit who are able to walk when pulled by a thread; and the horses pulling chariots that mimic galloping while their charioteers bend back and forth in the act of whipping them. "I am always struck by the mystery and depth of the interiors of a watch - its multiplicity, variety, and feeling of movements and man's grasp at perpetuity."
The mechanical and geometric images in this painting come from two different watches that had special associations for Murphy. One of the watches was a railroad watch designed for his family's company, the Mark Cross department store. The other watch was a gold pocket watch given to him by his wife Sara. The heroic scale of Murphy's painting reflects his fascination with modern machinery's complexity and efficiency. The huge canvas is filled with overlapping, interlocking forms representing gears, dials, wheels, hands, winders and screws in metallic and vivid colors.
Gerald Murphy and his wife Sara were popular and dynamic figures in France during the 1920's. In their Paris home and their property on the French Riviera, which they called Villa America, they hosted famous artists and writers such as Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
In Watch, Murphy engages aspects of Cubism by overlapping the interior and exterior components of the watch and abstracting his subject matter into flat, geometric forms.
Originally pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braques in the first decade of the twentieth century, Cubism was an avant-garde artistic movement inspired partly by the abstracted styles of African art and the late work of Paul Cezanne. Cubist painting is largely characterized by its tendency to fracture its subjects, geometricize them, and reassemble them on a canvas showing multiple viewpoints simultaneously.
In this painting, Romaine Brooks portrayed herself in the dark colors of a man's outfit, her eyes veiled under the shadow of her hat brim. Brooks lived most of her life in Paris, where she crafted an androgynous appearance that challenged conventional ideas of how women should look and behave. The shadowed face in this portrait suggests that her true self is hidden behind a carefully constructed facade. The tiny flash of red on Brooks's lapel represents the ribbon of the Legion of Honor she received for her artistic achievements, but it might also hint at the secret passions of her personal life. Shown above is the first painting of Brooks that drew interest to me. This piece was featured in the Elles exhibit, wish also had other works that parallel with the ideas that Brooks brings to the foreground. These ideas about gender and inequality and the oppression of woman are what comes to mind when enjoying the self portrait painting Romaine Brooks (1874 - 1970). Brooks features herself in front of what looks like a ruined landscape. She stands up tall in the foreground of the painting wearing a black overcoat jacket, and a white collared shirt. She also wears a medium un height top hat. The hat is tilted so that he eyes are shaded and unable to be seen, masking the face and further masking her biological identity as a woman. Created in 1922, this painting came into being at a time period when men's clothes were representations of power politically and socially. The outfit that Brooks draws herself in was the opposite of what was considered the normal dress of a 1920s woman. During this time period, women were wearing clothing that showed off their legs, had shorter hair, and were represented in a rectangular tall slender "boyish" figure. Even though the look could be considered slightly masculine because of the fact that curves were eliminated, it still was vastly different than the three-piece suit for men. Chanel was particularly a proponent of this tomboy look with her "black day dress". It wasn't until 1926 that skirts that looked like trousers began to emerge in mainstream Italian fashion. This showing how Brooks was going against normative dress by depicting herself in male clothing. One of America's first modernist painters, Charles Demuth was also one of the earliest artists in this country to expose his gay identity through forthright, positive depictions of homosexual desire. Demuth, the son of a successful merchant, had the financial freedom to pursue his artistic vision without debilitating regard for public opinion--concerning either aesthetics or sexuality--while his talent ensured that even the most provocative works were of unassailable quality.
Demuth was born on November 8, 1883 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. From an early age, he suffered from frail health. He graduated from Franklin and Marshall Academy and studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where the realist tradition of former faculty member Thomas Eakins (himself a painter of major works of homoerotic content) prevailed.
When several exhibitions refused to include Distinguished Air, Demuth responded by creating overtly homoerotic watercolors of sailors disrobing, fondling themselves, and even urinating in each other's company.
these works were executed during a two-year period near the end of his life, when a lifelong illness forced Demuth to leave his cosmopolitan surroundings and return to his conservative, small-town Pennsylvania birthplace. These works constitute a display of courage and self-respect that would not soon be repeated by other gay artists.
Hartley painted his most startlingly advanced abstractions during the first years of World War I while living in Berlin (March 1914-December 1915). The War Motifs, his German military series, are intensely powerful canvases in an Expressionist vein; they reflect not only his revulsion at the wartime destruction, but also his fascination with the energy and pageantry that accompanied the carnage. Portrait of a German Officer, painted in November 1914, shows Hartley's assimilation of both Cubism (the collage-like juxtaposition of visual fragments and the hieratic structuring of geometric shapes) and German Expressionism (the coarse brushwork and the dramatic color). The condensed mass of images (badges, flags, medals) evokes a collective psychological and physical portrait of the officer. There are also specific references to Hartley's close friend Karl von Freyburg, a young cavalry officer who had recently been killed in action: K.v.F. are his initials, 4 was his regiment number, and 24 his age. Marsden Hartley painted his most startlingly advanced abstractions during the first years of World War I (March 1914-December 1915) while he was living in Berlin. The city was filled with avant-garde artists from all over the world. During this period he produced a series of abstract portraits of German officers, intensely powerful canvases that reflect not only his revulsion at the horrors of war but also his fascination with the energy and pageantry that accompanied the war's destruction.
This painting, executed in November 1914, shows Hartley's assimilation of both Cubism (the collagelike juxtapositions of visual fragments) and German Expressionism (the coarse brushwork and dramatic use of bright colors and black). In 1916 the artist denied that the objects in the painting had any special meaning (perhaps as a defensive measure to ward off any attacks provoked by the intense anti-German sentiment in America at the time). However, his purposeful inclusion of medals, banners, military insignia, the Iron Cross, and the German imperial flag does evoke a specific sense of Germany during World War I as well as a collective psychological and physical portrait of a particular officer.
The picture shows pointed references to Hartley's close friend Karl von Freyburg, a young cavalry officer who had recently been killed in action, including his initials, his age (24), and his regiment number (4). Hartley's concern with abstraction did not last long (ca. 1911-16). He made several more trips to Europe and spent time in Mexico, the American Southwest, Bermuda, and Nova Scotia before returning home to Maine. His later work, depicting the hard-working people and majestic landscape of the state, is simple, direct, and intensely personal.