Category Archives: Art History

Thomas Cole, the Past, the Present, and the Course of Empire

More can be written about the American painter Thomas Cole than I could possibly wrap up in a single post, especially with my extremely limited knowledge of him and his work, but I do know some things worth sharing and hope they may lead you elsewhere for your own private elucidation. Continue reading Thomas Cole, the Past, the Present, and the Course of Empire

Defining a Genre: George Caleb Bingham and Genre Painting

When the American Art Union set out to up the standards of American artwork it sought specifically scenes of everyday life in addition to the great high-minded historical painting. One artist capitalized on this trend of “everyday life” paintings in ways few others had or have. Continue reading Defining a Genre: George Caleb Bingham and Genre Painting

The Artist and the Sportsman

If you are ever presented with a painting featuring some buckskin clad fur trappers in one or more familiar romantic composition, serve up a guess that it was painted by Alfred Jacob Miller and you will be correct more often than not. In fact, Miller was the only painter of his generation to paint the fur trade, so if you know that the painting in question was created in the early 19th century, you would be right 99.99% of the time. Continue reading The Artist and the Sportsman

Pipestone, Peeved Buffalo, and Painted Centaurs

Many pages have been written about George Catlin. The grand total falls somewhere close to an acre of  paper timber (I completely made that up so don’t go putting it in your Catlin notes). That hyperbole is, in all actuality, probably a low estimate. Many more megabytes of data have been used on blogs and digital storage of some of his famous Indian paintings. Continue reading Pipestone, Peeved Buffalo, and Painted Centaurs

When the West was North

It is probably better to speak of the West at this point as simply the Frontier. On the American continent the East was even at once considered West. But it is more than a direction. Colonial frontiers such as New York and Ohio, are almost laughable as “West” by the standards of the Montanans and any of the video game characters that you managed to get to the end of the Oregan Trail without dying of dysentery or starving to death. Continue reading When the West was North