Fields of Vision: Landscape Imagery and National Identity in England and the United States

Fields of Vision: Landscape Imagery and National Identity in England and the United States

by Stephen Daniels
     
 

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"Landscape imagery," according to Stephen Daniels, "is not merely a reflection of, or distraction from, more pressing social, economic, or political issues; it is often a powerful mode of knowledge and social engagement." As exemplars of moral order and aesthetic harmony, particular landscapes achieve the status of national icons, and imperialists, almost by

Overview

"Landscape imagery," according to Stephen Daniels, "is not merely a reflection of, or distraction from, more pressing social, economic, or political issues; it is often a powerful mode of knowledge and social engagement." As exemplars of moral order and aesthetic harmony, particular landscapes achieve the status of national icons, and imperialists, almost by definition, have annexed the homelands of others in their identity myths, projecting on "foreigners" pictorial codes that express both an affinity with the colonizing country and an estrangement from it. In this provocative book Daniels shows how various artists--including painters, landscape designers, and architects--have articulated national identities in England and the United States from the later eighteenth century to the present day.

The author looks especially at those artists who have been the focus of a "heritage debate" and who have been featured in exhibitions in the last decade (such as the controversial "The West as America: Reinterpreting Images of the Frontier" at the National Museum of American Art). Analyzing works of Christopher Wren, John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Cole, Humphry Repton, Joseph Wright, and Frances Palmer (the leading artist for Currier and Ives), Daniels also examines how landscape conventions developed in England were deployed in definitions of American national identity. The author denies that his intention is iconoclastic. Instead, he wishes to amplify the eloquence of the images he treats, even if this means rendering their meaning more mutable and ambiguous than their nationalist admirers might concede.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"We lay claim to land in many ways. One way is by depicting it in paintings. In Fields of Vision, Stephen Daniels examines the ways our society and the times that we live in are embedded in the works of our landscape painters."--Arts and Antiques

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691032733
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
01/11/1993
Pages:
266

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