It depicts life in vivid colours and speaks so much about oneself, the painter’s aspirations, his surroundings, and his nation. It has become a tool not only for personal expression but most importantly, a tool for maintaining good memories of history’s most significant people and events.
Below are some of the highlights in America’s painting background. Let us 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 like painting, a flourishing art in Europe especially in England. Starting to settle in a strange land was quite hard for these new settlers so they busied themselves with only the most essential things.
However, there were already some portraits noted during the first years of the settlement. These paintings were done by painters who identified themselves as “limners.” They were naturally artistic as they only trained themselves by moving from one spot to another to paint portraits of ordinary folks. Training in an art college was contrary to their strict Puritan way of life.
Growth of American Art
Apparently, early Americans’ interest in painting grew larger 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 show up. This distinctive American style was not only shown by American painters but as well as other American artists, especially in the area of architecture.
Diversity in painting styles of American painters was also encouraged by the nation’s big geographical size. American painters from every region showed variations in their own works. Moreover, there were differences in the works of American painters living in the cities and people of American painters residing in rural areas.
The National Academy of Design, formed in 1825, was an honorary association of American artists, including American painters. Today it is now called 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, hottest 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
Due to the Society of American Artists’ rising commercialism, ten significant American painters resigned from the institution and were know as the”Ten American Painters.” Among them were John Henry Twachtman, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Edmund Charles Tarbell, and Frank Weston Benson. The group was identified as impressionists.