The American Experiment: Nineteenth-Century Prints

West Bedroom Gallery

In this small exhibition of 19th-century American prints, we see citizens of the young country investigating issues of religion, politics, race, gender, and modern life. Thomas Cole’s series The Voyage of Life imagines human life as a journey in which faith in God promises both protection and heavenly reward. Richard Caton Woodville and George Caleb Bingham crafted pictures that challenged the American democratic system in the fraught years leading up to the Civil War. During those same years, Winslow Homer produced prints for Harper’s Weekly magazine depicting modern young men and women engaged in playful, flirtatious activities in the countryside, at the beach, and during the Christmas season. Finally, Thomas Hovenden captured the likeness of Samuel Jones, an African American man who sometimes served as the artist’s model. The image, at once affectionate, complex, ambivalent, and belittling, was reflective of white attitudes towards black people in the years following the Civil War.