American Painting - From its beginnings to the Armory Show by Jules David Prown, John Walker, Alexis Gregory

By Jules David Prown, John Walker, Alexis Gregory

The tale of yankee portray starts within the Colonial interval, within the 17th century. «The most evident truth approximately early American painting,» writes Jules David Prown, «is that there has been so little of it. while ecu colonists started to identify everlasting settlements at the japanese flank of North the USA, that they had different issues on their minds than the portray of images. confronted with a urgent necessity to fulfill their basic lifestyles needs—food, guard, clothing—they followed a lifestyle and a view of the realm that was once inevitably pragmatic. For them the humanities appeared dangerously beside the point, a distraction from the intense projects handy. That pragmatic perspective has characterised American tradition from its inception to the current day, and has profoundly affected the trajectory of yankee art.»

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Like Agrippina, The Death of General Wolfe, exhibited by West in 1771, treats the theme of the death of a hero. However in this case the death scene is actually represented, and the subject is taken from the recent past rather than from classical antiquity. General Wolfe died on September 13, 1759, on the Plains of Abraham, outside of Quebec, in the war against the French. The innovations in thematic seriousness and pictorial realism initiated in Agrippina are here carried forward to achieve what has been termed a " revolution in history painting," as West depicted the figures in contemporary dress (against the advice of Joshua Reynolds and George III).

Isolated in colonial America, his values shaped by his reading rather than by first-hand experience of great art, West burned with ambition to become a major artist. In response to his aspirations, a group of Philadelphia and New York businessmen sent West abroad to study in 1760, hoping to nourish the spark of artistic genius kindled in their country. West spent three years in Italy, and then settled in London where he soon achieved artistic eminence as history painter to George III and, eventually.

West gasped, with apparent but unlikely spontaneity, " My God, how like a of the stops to intensify the Benjamin West (1738-1820). The Death The National Gallery of of General Wolfe, 1770. (59y2x84') Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. Canadian War Memorials Collection. " Perfect! The youth from the forests of the new world seemed to grasp and natural man, the noble savage unspoiled by civilization. West capitalized on European interest in the American Indian in a number of paintings, notably in his next major modern history painting, a instinctively the parallel between the godlike classical figure depiction of William Penn's Peace Treaty with the Indians (Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1772.

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