Wednesday, April 6, 2011

19th Century American Portraits

William Smith Jewett (American artist, 1812–1873) The Promised Land The Grayson Family
George Caleb Bingham Fur Traders Going down the Missouri

In my never ending quest for discovering the actual people and clothing of the 19th Century I ran across some wonderful sites created by people that show and tell more than I ever could.

One of these is Barbara as she calls herself, obviously a woman who has spent untold hours pursuing the truth about American History through paintings.
Thomas Waterman Wood (1823–1903) the Workshop

Here is her modest Biography:
These blogs are truly a joy -- a total extravagance. Here I am free to explore endless curiosities. Four blogs are about gardens & women in early America. "It's About Time" is purely personal -- searching centuries of art, nature, & everyday life for unique perspectives, uncommon grace, & unexpected insight. Because I am a historian, the images usually cluster around some social, cultural, or academic theme or a timeline. I try to choose works that justify their inclusion on aesthetic grounds. There is a little museum in each blog -- no travel necessary.

George Caleb Bingham (American artist, 1811-1879) Raftsmen playing cards
I can add no more to this other than to say she has gone where most of us would ever take the time. On her blog are several pages of portraits and reflections of what life was truly like for the people who came to this country, what they looked like what they wore and how they lived.

I have found some other blogs of hers that show even more wonderful images, it's easy to get lost in her research. Most of the paintings are clearly marked as to painter and the date the painting was made.

Some of them are after our particular area of study, pre 1840, but there are enough of them to warrant a good going through of all the material, keeping in mind that many paintings didn't hit the canvas until many years after the first impressions were taken in notebooks and recreated after the fact.

George Caleb Bingham (American artist, 1811-1879) The Jolly Floatmen

In case you missed the link above, to see more of Barbaras Blog, click here

 To quote Barbara:

Thompkins H Matteson (1813-1884) The Christmas Day Turkey Shoot 1857
History is certainly not a science. It is not the absolute truth. It is constantly changing as fresh evidence & new interpretations flash into view. As those looking at history peel away the tired, old suppositions, they add new (but already growing old) assumptions of their own.

History reflects not just the prejudices of the period under study, but also the biases of those studying it. Since each person focusing on a historical period brings a different perspective & goal to the task, historians often interpret the same period of the past in vastly different ways.


  1. Beautiful paintings of people from the past. Right now I am reading a book based on the Clark family. Part of the Lewis and Clark team, called "From Sea to Shinning Sea" by James Alexander Thom. Only just started and so far seems like it will be an interesting book.

    Kevin and Ruth

  2. I just read "Follow the River" by the same author, a real nail biter and a true story!
    I have a friend who is a great living historian, saves me his paper backs, this was one of them, Thank You Ray!
    I have several Lewis and Clark books I got for free from Amazon on Kindle, including their journals, mighty fascinating stuff!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...