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“American Stories” Exhibition at the Met

November 15, 2009

Barbara Weinberg and Carrie Barratt on the “American Scenes of Everyday Life”

Winslow HomerBetween the eve of the American Revolution and World War I, a group of modest British colonies became states; the frontier pushed westward to span the continent; a rural and agricultural society became urban and industrial; and the United States—reunified after the Civil War under an increasingly powerful federal government—emerged as a leading participant in world affairs. Throughout this complicated, transformative century and a half, American painters recorded everyday life as it changed around them, capturing the temperament of their respective eras, defining the character of people as individuals, citizens, and members of ever-widening communities.

At first, most painters embedded references to everyday life in portraits, which were the only works for which a market existed. Beginning about 1830, however, and largely in response to the development of public exhibition spaces in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, some painters were able to free themselves from dependence on portrait commissions and to adopt new subjects that would appeal to wider audiences.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 15, 2009 10:39 AM

    thats interesting

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