Albert Bierstadt. The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak . Detail. 1863. 73-1/2" × 120-3/4”.
Map: Major Native American tribes of the Great Plains and Mountain West.
Map: Population density of non-native peoples in the United States in 1820 (a) and 1860 (b).
Emanuel Leutze. Study for Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (Westward Ho!) . 1861. 33-1/4" × 43-3/8”.
How did territorial expansion affect Native Americans in North America? The confrontation between white settlers and indigenous Americans accelerated after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, effectively doubling the size of the United States. American presidents like Washington and Jefferson emphasized the importance of “civilizing” Native Americans by converting them to Christianity, teaching them to farm, and educating their children. President Jackson claimed to believe in the same things, but how did his practices counter that position? How would you describe the difference between Native American attitudes about the land and those of the white settlers of North America? American artists of the nineteenth century offered a range of mythic interpretations of the frontier experience. How do the visions of Albert Bierstadt contrast to those of John Vanderlyn? What were George Catlin’s intentions as an artist? Native American artists offered unique testament to their cultures and the rapid changes that overtook them by the end of the century. How do their arts—as evidenced in Huron moccasins, Sioux winter counts, Plains beadwork, Navajo blankets, and Apache basketry—reflect European influence? What eventually led to the demise of the Plains tribes?
John Vanderlyn. The Murder of Jane McCrea . 1803-04. 32" × 26-1/2”.
George Catlin. The Last Race, Part of Okipa Ceremony (Mandan) . 1832. 23-3/8 × 28-1/8”.
Native American, Huron. Moccasins. ca. 1835. Length: 9”.
How were the contradictions of economic expansion expressed by American artists? As New York City grew to over 3 million people in the last decades of the nineteenth century, poet Walt Whitman celebrated the city’s— as well as the nation’s— sense of energy, excitement, and unlimited possibility. How would you describe his subject matter? What significant stylistic innovation did he introduce? The quintessential New Yorker, Whitman fully recognized the corruption hat characterized New York’s Tammany Hall and the light of the working class, which in 1877 erupted in a series of strikes across the country. What caused these strikes? Women of the era continued to be disenfranchised, but they did make gains, as state-run schools trained women as teachers and nurses. In the last decades of the century, women became one of the favorite subjects of male American painters. How did male painters generally depict women? Women often made significant individual contributions to the culture, in the arts as well as in the fledgling women’s rights movement. Emily Dickinson’s poetry, although little known in her lifetime, was widely read and admired by century’s end. How do the contrasting styles and content of Whitman’s and Dickinson’s verse define the American culture of their era? How does Kate Chopin challenge the traditional place of women did her novel The Awakening ?
Map: New York City and its boroughs, ca. 1900.
Portrait of Walt Whitman . Frontispiece of his Leaves of Grass , first edition, 1855. 1855.
Childe Hassam. The Manhattan Club (The Stewart Mansion) . ca. 1891. 18-1/4" × 22-1/8”.
George Bellows. Cliff Dwellers . 1913. 40-3/16" × 42-1/16”.
Robert Koehler. The Strike . 1886. 71-5/8" × 108-5/8”.
Thomas Wilmer Dewing. A Reading . 1897. 20-1/4" × 30-1/4”.
Winslow Homer. The Life Line . 1884. 28-5/8" × 44-3/4”.
Thomas Eakins. Closer Look: The Gross Clinic . 1875. 96" × 78-1/2”.
Thomas Eakins. Closer Look: The Agnew Clinic . 1889. 84-3/8" × 118-1/8”.
Portrait of Emily Dickinson . ca. 1848-53. 5-1/2" × 3-7/8”.
What is ragtime? By the end of the century, New Orleans was one of the nation’s most cosmopolitan cities. In the city’s bars and dance halls, at its political rallies, weddings, and funerals, a new kind of music developed that has come to be known as jazz. What characterizes the ragtime piano music popularized by Scott Joplin?
Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag : Title page of an early edition. ca. 1899.
What is an expatriate? Many Americans left home to travel to Europe for lengthy sojourns. Based on their life and works, why do you think Henry James, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, and John Singer Sargent chose to be expatriates?
James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket . ca. 1874. 23-3/4" × 18-3/8”.
John Singer Sargent. The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit . 1882. 87-3/8" × 87-5/8”.
Mary Stevenson Cassatt. In the Loge . 1879. 32" × 26”.
Mary Stevenson Cassatt. Modern Woman , central panel in the Hall of Honor, Woman’s Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 (destroyed). 1893. 13' × 58’.
What ideal of America was exhibited at the Columbian Exposition? The Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 marked the four-hundredth anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. How were women represented at the Columbian Exposition? What point of view did they try to express? Part of what attracted the fair’s organizers to Chicago was its advanced architecture, represented particularly in the skyscrapers of Louis Sullivan. What was new and unique in Sullivan’s design and construction? Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed New York’s Central Park, begun in 1857. Olmsted and Vaux also designed Riverside, Illinois, one of the very first commuter suburbs in the nation, creating a parklike city with “informal village greens, commons and playgrounds.” How do the buildings of Sullivan and the parks of Olmstead help to express the Columbian Exposition’s ideal?
Mary Stevenson Cassatt. Gathering Fruit . ca. 1893. 16-7/8" × 15-3/8”.
The Native American in Myth and RealityHow did territorial expansion affect Native Americans in North America?• The Indian Removal Act — At the request of President AndrewJackson, Congress passed “An Act to provide for an exchange of landswith the Indians residing in any of the states or territories, and for theirremoval west of the river Mississippi.” Native peoples were forced tomarch across the country a trek that would become known as the Trailof Tears.• Recording Native Americans: Catlin’s EthnographicEnterprise — George Catlin’s contribution to Native-Americanethnography, is indisputable. He recorded the costumes and practicesof more than 40 different tribes in 470 portraits an portrayals of dailylife.• Huron Moccasins: The Influence of European Styles onNative-American Art — The impact of European contact on NativeAmerican arts can be seen in objects made by the tribal peoples, suchas moccasins.
• Plains Narrative Painting: Picturing Personal History andChange — The Native Americans of the Great Plains developed astrong sense of history. They recorded their history as a narrative inimages on buffalo-hide robes, the exterior hides of teepees, shields,and muslin cloths.• Women’s Art on the Plains: Quillwork and Beadwork — Theartworkof women was greatly respected in the Plains and Intermountain tribalcultures. The two main art forms practiced by women were quillworkand beadwork. Quillwork was considered a sacred art.• Weaving and Basketry — Among the Navajo, weaving, basketry,and pottery are practiced today very much as they were in pre-colonialtimes. Weaving is a sacred activity that stretches back to creationitself.
• The End of an Era — The ultimate fate of Plains tribes wasinextricably linked to the fate of the buffalo. A new circle dance, theGhost Dance, seemed to promise salvation for the tribes but that endedat Wounded Knee Creek.• Discussion Question: What is the significance of the mythic Westernlandscape?
Walt Whitman’s AmericaHow were the contradictions of economic expansion expressed byAmerican artists?• In the Interest of Liberty: An Era of Contradictions —Whitman’s essential optimism and belief in the egalitarian promise ofdemocracy was put to the test during Reconstruction. AfricanAmericans were losing their freedoms while a French gift to theAmerican people, Liberty Enlightening the World, was dedicated. TheTammany Society was founded for social purposes but now usedworking-class and immigrant votes to gain and keep power indefinitely.Under the leadership of Boss Tweed, City Hall became known asTammany Hall. Millions of American workers found themselves withoutjobs in the 1870s. Workers developed new forms of collective actionsuch as strikes and walkouts.
• The American Woman — In the post-Civil War years, womenbecame the public face of social reform as they led the suffragemovement, and the temperance movement. They assumed a growingrole in education and nursing. Individual achievements by EmilyDickenson and Kate Chopin are notable. Dickenson’s work ischaracterized by passion, simplicity, and an economy andconcentration of style. Chopin’s stories were praised for their attentionto local custom and dialect. No other writer of the era tried to describethe feelings a women experiences as she discovers her own sexualbeing and her own identity.• Discussion Question: Why was Kate Chopin’s Awakening a critical flop?
Ragtime and the Beginnings of JazzWhat is ragtime?• Jazz is characterized by a steady rhythm that plays off against arhythmic syncopation. To many puritanical Americans, the looserhythms of ragtime suggested loose morals, and the form was harshlycriticized.
The American AbroadWhat is an expatriate?• Henry James and the International Novel — James wasperhaps the best-traveled and most cosmopolitan American writer inthe nineteenth century. He often depicted the drama of Americaninnocence confronting European experience in his novels, such asPortrait of a Lady and The Ambassadors.• Painters Abroad: The Expatriate Vision — Whistler was anAmerican expatriate painter who valued art for art’s sake, for its beauty,not for its content. Sargent specialized in portraits of the aristocracyand the wealthy, and he was noted for his stylish, bravura brushwork.Mary Cassatt was a figure painter, concentrating almost exclusively onwomen in domestic and intimate settings.
Active Listening Guide: Joplin: Maple LeafRagMyArtsLabChapter 32 – The Course of Empire: Expansion and Conflict in America
Chicago and the Columbian Exposition of 1893What ideal of America was exhibited at the Columbian Exposition?• Louis Sullivan and the Chicago School of Architecture —Chicago was attractive as a venue for the Columbian Exposition due tothe sheer volume and impressiveness of its original, contemporaryarchitecture. After the great fire of 1871, there was a great need torebuild. A leading proponent of new methods of design was Sullivan,who coined the phrase, “Form ever follows function.”• Frederick Law Olmstead and the Invention of Suburbia —Olmstead and Calvert Vaux designed New York’s Central Park andmodeled it on the English garden. Olmstead later strove to create acommunal spirit by subdividing sites into small “village” areas linked bydrives and walks. This design for Riverside, Illinois set the standard forsuburban development.• Discussion Question: What does Sullivan mean by “form followsfunction”?