It depicts life in vivid colours and speaks so much about oneself, the painter’s aspirations, his environment, and his nation. It has become a tool not just for individual expression but most of all, a tool for maintaining good memories of history’s most significant people and events.
Below are some of the highlights in America’s painting history. Let’s take a look at how painting developed in America and some of the greatest American painters who in one way or another marked a lasting imprint in the history of American art.
The puritan values of early English settlers in North America were so severe that they shunned all sorts of luxury such as artistic expressions such as painting, a flourishing art in Europe particularly in England. Beginning to settle in a strange land was quite tough for these new settlers so they busied themselves with only the most critical things.
But, there were already some portraits mentioned during the first years of the settlement. They were the earliest known American painters. They were naturally artistic as they only trained themselves by going from one spot to another to paint portraits of common folks. Coaching in an art school was contrary to their strict Puritan way of life.
Apparently, early Americans’ interest in painting grew bigger that several years later after having established their life in America, American painters started to go to England to study.
Although early American painters were highly influenced by artistic styles currently developed in Europe, as years passed by they started to produce their own style in painting. In 19th century in particular, notable difference between paintings of American painters and those of their European counterparts began to appear. This distinctive American style wasn’t only shown by American painters but as well as other American artists, particularly in the area of architecture.
Diversity in painting styles of American painters was also promoted by the country’s big geographical size. American painters from each region showed variations in their works. Moreover, there were differences in the functions of American painters residing in the cities and those of American painters residing in rural areas.
National Academy of Design
Today it’s now known as The National Academy, which is also a museum and a school for fine arts.
Society of American Artists
First members of the Society of American Artists include American painters Robert Swain Gifford, an American landscape painter; John Henry Twachtman, most popular impressionist landscape painter in his time; John LaFarge who was also renowned for his stained glass windows and writings; and Albert Pinkham Ryder, famous for his seascapes. These American painters left the National Academy of Design and formed their own association because the first failed to meet their needs as artists.
Ten American Painters
Because of the Society of American Artists’ rising commercialism, ten significant American painters resigned from the institution and were know as the”Six American Painters.” Among them were John Henry Twachtman, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Edmund Charles Tarbell, and Frank Weston Benson. The group was identified as impressionists.