American Colonial Art (1670-1800)

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Eunice Huntington, Chandler
Death of General Wolfe, West
Death of Major Pierson, Copley
Expulsion of Adam and Eve, West
George Washington, Stuart

In general, the term ‘American Colonial art’ describes the art and architecture of 17th and 18th century settlers who arrived in America from Europe. It was so Eurocentric that it had no contact with the tribal art traditions of Native American Indians, either on the eastern seaboard, the plains or the west coast.

[Source: visual-arts-cork.com]


Image source: wikimedia commons
Winthrop Chandler was known for his portraits, mainly of family members and neighbours, and a few landscapes. Chandler did not travel in search of commissions. He produced paintings of a number of the Devotion family children.

Chandler’s style is characterized by a flat, linear manner of painting and a realistic representation of his sitters.

Although he painted houses to supplement his income, he was unable to support himself. He returned to Chandler Hill where he died on 29 July 1790.

Chandler was so destitute that he left his remaining property to pay his medical and funeral expenses.
[Source: nga.gov]
Eunice Huntington Devotion and Child1770Oil/CanvasPortrait
Chandler, Winthrop1747-1790, aged 43American artistAmerican Colonial Art
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1335-11]

Lyman Allyn Art Museum, 625 Williams St, New London, CT 06320, USA134 x 93  
The Death of General Wolfe is a 1770 painting by Anglo-American artist Benjamin West, commemorating the 1759 Battle of Quebec, where General James Wolfe died at the moment of victory.

The painting, containing vivid suggestions of martyrdom, and broke a standard rule of historical portraiture by featuring individuals who had not been present at the scene and dressed in modern, instead of classical, costumes.

Nonetheless, the painting has become one of the best-known images in 18th-century art.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]

Image source: wikimedia commons
Death of General Wolfe, The1770Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
West, Benjamin1738-1820, aged 81American painter LondonAmerican Colonial Art
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1335-12]

National Gallery of Canada, 380 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4, Canada151 x 213  
Image source: tate.org.ukThis picture celebrates the British defence of Jersey against French invasion in 1781 and also pays tribute to a young Major, Francis Peirson, who lost his life in the process.

Originally a part of France, the island of Jersey had been in the possession of the English since 1066. On the night of 5-6 January 1781 a small army of French soldiers landed on the island and marched on the capital, St Helier. They captured the Governor, and forced him to sign a document of surrender.

The British garrison and the Jersey militia launched a counter-attack, led by Major Peirson, he was killed by a French sniper. A battle ensued in Royal Square and the French were defeated.
[Source: tate.org.uk]
Death of Major Pierson, The1782-4Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
Copley, John Singleton1738-1815, aged 77English painterAmerican Colonial Art
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1335-13]

Tate Galleries, Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG UK252 x 366  
The Book of Genesis does not state how the first man and woman were expelled from Eden, but artists usually portray the Archangel Michael as the agent of the Lord’s wrath.

The sinners wear fur robes because God clothed them in ‘coats of skins’ so that they could stand unashamed in his presence. The serpent, now cursed among creatures, slithers away on its belly to eat dust. The sharp beam of light overhead refers to the ‘flaming sword’ in Genesis.
[Source: nga.gov]

Image source: pinterest.com
Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, The1791Oil/CanvasHistory Painting
West, Benjamin1738-1820, aged 81American painter LondonAmerican Colonial Art
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1335-14]

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC USA187 x 278  

Image source: wikimedia commons
Most everyone is familiar with it as the engraved bust-length image of George Washington that graces the front of the one-dollar bill. Art historians formally call it the Athenaeum Portrait.  

This is one of dozens of portraits that Stuart painted of the first president. The full-length likeness, is called the Lansdowne Portrait, not as famous as its bust-length counterpart, but the Lansdowne Portrait retains a place of special significance within the history of American art.

Given his European training, Stuart was well suited to execute a Grand Manner portrait of America’s first president. Whereas previous artists emphasised Washington’s position as an officer in the Revolutionary Army, Stuart stressed Washington’s position as a civilian commander in chief.
[Source: khanacademy.org]
George Washington ‘Lansdowne’ Portrait1795Oil/CanvasPortrait
Stuart, Gilbert1755-1828, aged 72American painterAmerican Colonial Art
National Portrait Gallery, 8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA248 x 159  

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