List of illustrations

  • War News from Mexico
  • Corn Husking Frolic
  • Winter Scene in Brooklyn
  • Fourth of July in Centre Square
  • Rustic Dance after a Sleigh Ride
  • Scraps: Plate 1
  • Bargaining for a Horse
  • Coming to the Point, studies
  • Farmers Nooning
  • The People Putting Responsibility to the Test, or the Downfall of the Kitchen Cabinet and Collar Presses
  • Farmers Nooning, study
  • Raffling for the Goose
  • The Painter's Triumph
  • W(h)ig Bazaar
  • Federal-Abolition-Whig Trap to Catch Voters In
  • Catching Rabbits
  • Cider Making
  • The Image Peddler
  • Settling the Bill
  • Set-to between the Champion Old Tip and the Swell Dutchman of Kinderhook
  • Davy Crockett's Almanack of Wild Sports in the West, cover
  • Long Jakes
  • Long Jakes
  • Western Life—The Trapper
  • The Death Struggle
  • The Trapper's Last Shot
  • The Prairie Hunter—One Rubbed Out!
  • The Life of a Hunter: A Tight Fix
  • The Jolly Flatboatmen
  • Raftsmen Playing Cards
  • Wood Boat
  • Squatters
  • County Election
  • The Polling (Plate 3 of Election Series)
  • The Pursuit
  • Quilting Frolic
  • The Fruits of Amalgamation
  • In the Woodshed
  • In the Cornfield
  • Waking Up
  • Politicians in a Country Bar
  • Kitchen Ball at White Sulphur Springs
  • The Greek Slave
  • Eel Spearing at Setauket
  • The Power of Music
  • The Sailor's Wedding
  • Thoughts of Liberia: Emancipation
  • The Lucky Throw, or Raffling for a Goose
  • Negro Life at the South or Old Kentucky Home—Life in the South
  • Slavery as It Exists in America; Slavery as It Exists in England
  • Slave Auction in Richmond, Virginia
  • Slave Market
  • The Verdict of the People
  • The Sportsman's Last Visit
  • The City and the Country Beaux
  • Sugaring Off
  • Apple Gathering
  • The Happy Family
  • Mrs. McCormick's General Store
  • The New Scholar
  • Mother's Watch
  • The Intelligence Office
  • Shake Hands?
  • Young Husband: First Marketing
  • The Young Wife: First Stew, study
  • Kiss Me and You'll Kiss the 'Lasses
  • The Little Navigator
  • The Little Sunshade
  • This Little Pig Went to Market
  • The Card Players
  • Politics in an Oyster House
  • Young '48 and Old '76
  • The News Boy
  • The Bootblack (Doing Nothing)
  • The News Boys
  • Street Urchins
  • The Firecracker (2)
  • The Post Office
  • The American Farmer
  • The Blacksmith Shop
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Description: American Genre Painting: The Politics of Everyday Life
A number of institutions and individuals have made this study possible. A Guggenheim Fellowship and a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 1985 and 1986 and a research leave at the University of Pittsburgh in 1987 enabled me to formulate, research, and write early drafts of the book. Colleagues and students who heard short papers about segments of the work in progress were generous with their questions and emendations. At a colloquium at the Woodrow Wilson Center …
Description: American Genre Painting: The Politics of Everyday Life
This book studies American genre painting during its years of greatest prominence. For three decades, from 1830 until the outbreak of the Civil War, the socially ambitious and typically urban group of American citizens who were patrons of paintings and reviewers for cultural journals championed images of “American” subjects. Twentieth-century viewers have celebrated many of these antebellum works as evidence of a golden age in American culture and in American genre painting. Yet antebellum …

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Description: American Genre Painting: The Politics of Everyday Life
Playing to the visual appetites of his fellow Americans at a time of high political excitement in 1849, Richard Caton Woodville, painting in Germany, sent his small, intense picture War News from Mexico, 1848 (pl. 1), to New York to be exhibited. In the image, a group of eight white males gather around a figure who reads aloud from a newspaper. Young, middle-aged, and old in years, acute and thoughtful in expression, and fashionable, restrained, and even outlandish in dress, they congregate on a …

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Description: American Genre Painting: The Politics of Everyday Life
By 1830, when the population in the twenty-four states of the United States was twelve million people, of whom more than half were women and blacks, a number of white male voices from different social levels declared optimistically that democracy would at last be realized. Many had benefited from the vast expansion of suffrage in the years following the ratification of the Constitution; and more than a few previously humble citizens had risen to positions of economic power. With the triumph of …

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Description: American Genre Painting: The Politics of Everyday Life
The Yankee yeoman, because so familiar, was comical, but the frontiersman who explored the West, or anyone who moved westward, was an unknown quantity. Just what did characterize the typical Westerner? At stake, as an educated and urban (and Eastern) American elite seemed to see it, was the relationship of politically empowered but uneducated human beings to the wilderness. What, these Easterners pondered, were the social implications of the new setting for at least part of the sovereign …

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Description: American Genre Painting: The Politics of Everyday Life
The fictions that whites built about the black people in their midst were very different from those they constructed about one another. In the eyes of almost all the dominant citizens who put themselves at the center of the body politic, scheming Yankee farmers and vaguely disreputable Westerners might be of dubious commercial malleability or low social standing, but they were indisputably in the competitive race that linked citizens across the electorate. African-Americans, however, were not. …

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Description: American Genre Painting: The Politics of Everyday Life
In turning an examination of American genre painting to representations of women, we find patterns that are both predictable and surprising. The genre painters discussed thus far were male, participating as citizens with the relative freedom of discussion and self-definition that white males enjoyed. These painters devoted their imagery to issues and nuances that embodied the sphere of public life as they and New York patrons, viewers, and critics perceived it. Although discussion about women’s …

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Description: American Genre Painting: The Politics of Everyday Life
By 1850, as Mount’s investment in the Yankee farmer had almost stopped paying returns, Bingham was turning to the settled Western citizenry for his formulations (with what would be deceptive hopes), and Spencer was chafing at the constraints of her New York viewers, national genre painting seemed to have lost whatever edge it had enjoyed. The chief problem was that the polity implicated in genre scenes was no longer a tally of recognizable “others.” For most speakers in the seats of cultural …

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Description: American Genre Painting: The Politics of Everyday Life
In 1861, when the Civil War broke out, genre painting as a national enterprise had dropped to a low ebb. Woodville, who had enjoyed a flurry of popularity about 1850, was dead; Bingham had gone to Düsseldorf to study, having long since run through his repertory of Western subjects and given up exhibiting in New York after the collapse of the American Art-Union in 1852; Lilly Martin Spencer had found New York too discouraging and had moved to Newark; Burr had abandoned painting for writing and …

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American Genre Painting: The Politics of Everyday Life
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