American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915

Overview

Accompanying a major exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765–1915 presents nearly two hundred extraordinary pictures that tell stories of ordinary people engaged in commonplace tasks and pleasures. The first overview of the subject in thirty-five years, this richly illustrated volume features masterpieces by John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, William Sidney Mount, George Caleb Bingham, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Mary ...

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New York, NY 2009 Hard cover Very Good. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 222 p. Contains: Illustrations.

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Overview

Accompanying a major exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765–1915 presents nearly two hundred extraordinary pictures that tell stories of ordinary people engaged in commonplace tasks and pleasures. The first overview of the subject in thirty-five years, this richly illustrated volume features masterpieces by John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, William Sidney Mount, George Caleb Bingham, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, John Sloan, and George Bellows, as well as notable examples by some of their key colleagues. These artists captured the temperament of their respective eras, describing and defining in their best works the character of Americans as individuals, citizens, and members of ever-widening communities from the decade before the Revolution to the eve of World War I. The authors—all distinguished curators and scholars—look at how painters told stories through their selections of settings, players, and action, and various narrative devices. They also consider the artists' responses to foreign prototypes, travel and training, changing exhibition venues, and audience expectations. The persistence of certain themes—childhood, marriage, the family, and the community; the attainment and reinforcement of citizenship; attitudes toward race; the frontier as reality and myth; and the process and meaning of making art—underscores evolving styles and standards of storytelling.

Divided into four chronological sections, the book begins with the years surrounding the American Revolution and the birth of the new republic, when painters such as Copley, Peale, and Samuel F. B. Morse incorporated stories within the expressive bounds of portraiture. During the Jacksonian and pre-Civil War decades from about 1830 to 1860, Mount, Bingham, Lilly Martin Spencer, and others painted genre scenes featuring lighthearted narratives that growing audiences for art could easily read and understand. From 1860 to 1877, artists like Eastman Johnson, Homer, and Eakins responded to the Civil War and, going forward, encoded Reconstruction and the Centennial in pictures designed to help heal the nation's spirit. After the Centennial, Homer and Eakins—joined by colleagues who included William Merritt Chase, Sargent, Cassatt, Sloan, and Bellows—explored new subjects and narrative modes in the increasingly cosmopolitan age leading up to World War I. The result is a visually compelling account of the stories American artists chose to tell, how they told them, and how those stories have been read by observers over time. [This book was originally published in 2009 and has gone out of print. This edition is a print-on-demand version of the original book.]

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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: 9781588393364
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Publication date: 10/28/2009

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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