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 blatant truth approximately early American painting,» writes Jules David Prown, «is that there has been so little of it. whilst eu colonists started to identify everlasting settlements at the japanese flank of North the US, that they had different issues on their minds than the portray of images. confronted with a urgent necessity to meet their basic existence needs—food, look after, clothing—they followed a life-style and a view of the area that was once inevitably pragmatic. For them the humanities appeared dangerously beside the point, a distraction from the intense initiatives to hand. 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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Mrs. Humphrey Devereux, National Art Gallery, Wellington, New 1771. (40<;y32') Zealand. 53 Ralph Earl (1751-1801). Roger Sherman, about Yale University Art Gallery, 34 New Haven, 1777. {64Yi^49V2") Connecticut. Gift of Roger Sherman White, January igif masters. While he was in Italy, war broke out at was reunited with his family in home at Lexington and Concord. Copley London, and there soon gained considerable success as a history painter (see next chapter). He never returned to his native land.

His portraits became increasingly deft and expressive, the Rococo style liberating his innate capabilities as a colorist. The bold and tasteful portrait of Thaddeus Burr with its spectacular brown-blue color harmony, painted when Copley was just over twenty, shows clearly why he rapidly achieved pre-eminence among American colonial artists. Although his success was guaranteed by technical competence alone, his real secret lay in his knowledge of his sitters and their requirements. Copley understood that what New Englanders valued in a portrait above all else was a good likeness.

England had endured a long period of war marked by few victories. News from America was not good, and even success in the colonies involved Englishmen killing Englishmen. But a victory over a traditional continental foe, the French, was a different matter, and on Jersey the triumph was made all the more gratifying in that it had been snatched from the jaws of defeat. The poignant death of a youthful hero cut down at his moment of glory, the retribution exacted by a faithful Negro servant, and the selfless devotion of the mortally wounded drummer who ignores his own wounds to turn toward his lost leader, all added to the picture's appeal.

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