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American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915

Overview

This beautiful volume explores American paintings of people engaged in the tasks and pleasures of everyday life between the colonial era and World War I. These works reflect key historical and cultural developments, including the growth of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration; changing gender roles; and the shifting location and meaning of the frontier.

Focusing on leading artists, from John Singleton Copley to John Sloan, the authors address narrative content in ...

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Overview

This beautiful volume explores American paintings of people engaged in the tasks and pleasures of everyday life between the colonial era and World War I. These works reflect key historical and cultural developments, including the growth of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration; changing gender roles; and the shifting location and meaning of the frontier.

Focusing on leading artists, from John Singleton Copley to John Sloan, the authors address narrative content in colonial and early national portraits; genre scenes of the Jacksonian period; images from the Civil War era; and works by American Impressionists and realists in the decades before and after 1900. Like the exhibition it accompanies, the book reflects transformations in artists’ aspirations and viewers’ expectations as America evolved from isolated British outpost to leading independent participant in international affairs.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The catalog of a major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (through January 2010) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (through May), this elegant volume captures the very human elements of daily life through many generations. The changes in style and content vary as the years progress from pre-Revolutionary War America to the eve of World War I. The works covered range from early group portraits and family scenes to narrative painting, all telling a story for the public to see and understand, from the glorified images of the far West to the ravages of the Civil War, to the effort to rebuild a nation and go forward with pride, and finally to the cosmopolitan culture of a people about to face the upheaval of the coming war. Editors Weinberg (Alice Pratt Brown curator of American paintings & sculpture, the Met), Carrie Rebora Barratt (curator, American paintings & sculpture, the Met), Margaret C. Conrads (Samuel Sosland curator of American art, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO), and Bruce Robertson (art history, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) selected Copley and the Peales, along with Mount, Eakins, Homer, and Sargent and a goodly number of lesser artists; all depict the quotidian life around them in a variety of ways. VERDICT A fine example of how to explore one theme handled over the years in many different styles and manners.—Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York
Choice
“The catalogue is beautifully produced and will be a valuable resource.”—Choice
Choice
“The catalogue is beautifully produced and will be a valuable resource.”—Choice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300199529
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Publication date: 6/25/2013
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 11.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

H. Barbara Weinberg is Alice Pratt Brown Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Carrie Rebora Barratt is Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture and Manager of The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Margaret C. Conrads is Samuel Sosland Curator of American Art, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Bruce Robertson is Professor of Art History, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Consulting Curator, Department of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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  • Posted July 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Rich History of American Art

    AMERICAN STORIES: PAINTINGS OF EVERYDAY LIFE, 1765 - 1915 is a catalogue that accompanied a sensitive and very popular exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum in Los Angeles, California. For those who were unable to see this well-curated exhibition this catalogue is a rich portfolio of the treasures shared. Many of the works in this show are well known to the public from the exposure they have received in art history books, but the joy of seeing these familiar paintings grouped with images not previously known adds greatly to the appreciation of the quality of art that this country has and continues to produce.

    There are four writers who each take a period of history and discuss and illustrate it with works in the exhibition. Carrie Rebora Barrett's contribution is 'Inventing American Stories, 1765 - 1830, emphasizing the works of John Singleton Copley from his famous portraits to his created allegories such as 'Watson and the Shark' and Charles Willson Peale's impressive 'The Exhumation of the Mastadon'. The next section is written by Bruce Robertson - 'Stories for the Public, 1830 - 1860' - and deals with Yankee idealism and the joys of the works of George Caleb Bingham, William Sidney Mount, Christian Friedich Mayr among others who depicted life in America from all stances. 'Stories of War and Reconciliation, 1860 - 1877' by Margaret C. Conrads features paintings of wars here and abroad, conflicts with the American Indian, the wagon trains West movement, and the wondrous paintings of Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins and William Merritt Chase.

    The final chapter of this well illustrate book is titled 'Cosmopolitan and Candid Stories, 1877 - 1915, and it is this section that many art lovers will treasure most. The works of Mary Cassatt, many more by Thomas Eakins, the sea images of Homer, and works by Thomas Anshutz, John George Brown, Frederic Remington, George Bellows and a contingency of little known but superb painters of the American life.

    The book is well designed and constructed and scrupulously documented. This is a fine example of how a museum catalogue can become a gold standard of art history books. It is a fine achievement.

    Grady Harp

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