The Empire of the Eye: Landscape Representation and American Cultural Politics, 1825-1875

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The great nineteenth-century American landscape paintings - panoramic visions of natural design - have long been interpreted as expressions of the very spirit of national expansionism. Surveying American landscape art in light of its political, institutional, and cultural history from the 1820s through the post-Civil War era, Angela Miller profoundly alters our understanding of the genre. In this richly illustrated volume, she shows how landscape paintings, beyond reflecting the beauty and the power of nature, ...
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1993 Hardcover Fair Item is intact, but may show shelf wear. Pages may include notes and highlighting. May or may not include supplemental or companion material. Access codes ... may or may not work. Connecting readers since 1972. Customer service is our top priority. Read more Show Less

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Overview

The great nineteenth-century American landscape paintings - panoramic visions of natural design - have long been interpreted as expressions of the very spirit of national expansionism. Surveying American landscape art in light of its political, institutional, and cultural history from the 1820s through the post-Civil War era, Angela Miller profoundly alters our understanding of the genre. In this richly illustrated volume, she shows how landscape paintings, beyond reflecting the beauty and the power of nature, served as a medium through which disquieting questions concerning the future of the new republic could be raised symbolically. Making use of a wide array of sources including diaries, letters, travel writings, criticism, and essays, Miller illuminates the meaning of landscape images for nineteenth-century viewers. She reassesses the ideological influence of Thomas Cole on successive generations of artists and reinterprets the new types of national landscape that emerged among New York-based painters beginning in the 1840s. Miller offers fresh analyses of such key works as Cole's View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts (The Oxbow) (1836), Asher B. Durand's Progress (1853), John Frederick Kensett's White Mountains - Mount Washington (1851), Frederic Church's New England Scenery (1851), and Sanford Gifford's Kauterskill Clove (1862). The cultural identity expressed by nationalist landscape painting, she asserts, was marked by competing commitments to region and nation, by uncertainties over gender relations, and by the paradox of a nature simultaneously invested with spiritual values and used to underwrite an ideology of progress. Enhanced by eight color plates and sixty-four black-and-white reproductions, The Empire of the Eye represents a major contribution to American cultural studies and the history of landscape art.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
During the period under study, the landscape genre carried an exaggerated weight of meaning for the collective national identity, and artists wrestled with its formal, representational, and expressive issues. Miller (art history, Washington U.) studies why landscape painting held such a key place in American art and also what its role was in the formation of cultural identity. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801428302
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1993
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 82.50 (w) x 10.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Thomas Cole: Self, Nature, and Nation 21
2 The National Landscape and the First New York School 65
3 Millennium/Apocalypse: The Ambiguous Mode 107
4 The Imperial Republic: Rewriting The Course of Empire 137
5 Nationalism as Place and Process: Frederic Church's New England Scenery 167
6 The Sectional Conflict in the 1850s: Fissures in the National Landscape 209
7 Domesticating the Sublime: The Feminized Landscape of Light, Space, and Air 243
Index 289
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