Art as Evidence: Writings on Art and Material Culture

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Overview

Jules Prown is renowned as a historian of American art and a pioneer in the study of material culture, a discipline that attempts to achieve a more profound understanding of individuals and societies using works of art as tangible evidence. This important book celebrates Prown's distinguished career, bringing together eighteen of his most influential essays, along with a new introductory chapter, an intellectual autobiography that explains the evolution of his life's work. The volume begins with theoretical essays that document Prown's thinking as a cultural art historian, followed by the presentation of a number of his finest writings on American art. These pieces focus on the work of key eighteenth-century American artists-Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, and John Trumbull-who painted in England as well as in America, and on the work of such major nineteenth-century artists as Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins. The essays reveal Prown's trajectory as an art historian: the earlier ones are examples of more traditional art historical methodology, as Prown investigates formalist and iconographic techniques, and the later ones demonstrate his developing interest in unpacking cultural meaning from objects. What results is a remarkable collection that clearly conveys the import of Prown's contribution to the study of American art and material culture.

Author Biography: Jules David Prown is Paul Mellon Professor Emeritus of the History of Art at Yale University.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300084313
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Preface
Introduction 1
1 An Anatomy Book by John Singleton Copley 12
2 John Singleton Copley in New York 26
3 The Art Historian and the Computer: An Analysis of Copley's Patronage, 1753-1774 36
4 Style as Evidence 52
5 Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method 69
6 The Expedition against the Ohio Indians in 1764 under Colonel Bouquet: Two Early Drawings by Benjamin West 96
7 Benjamin West's Family Picture: A Nativity in Hammersmith 117
8 Charles Willson Peale in London 133
9 John Trumbull as History Painter 159
10 Winslow Homer in His Art 188
11 Thomas Eakins' Baby at Play 205
12 Raphaelle Peale: Fruit in a Silver Basket 215
13 The Truth of Material Culture: History or Fiction? 220
14 Material/Culture: Can the Farmer and the Cowman Still Be Friends? 235
15 The Promise and Perils of Context 243
16 In Pursuit of Culture: The Formal Language of Objects 254
17 Benjamin West and the Use of Antiquity 257
18 A Course of Antiquities at Rome, 1764 281
Bibliography 295
Index 299
Photo Credits 305
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