Pastoral Inventions: Rural Life in Nineteenth-Century American Art and Culture (American Civilization)

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9780877225805: Pastoral Inventions: Rural Life in Nineteenth-Century American Art and Culture (American Civilization)

With 157 illustrations, Pastoral Inventions demonstrates the important role played by American pictorial art in creating and perpetuating visual equivalents to ideas and beliefs about rural life that even today remain deeply embedded in American culture.

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From Publishers Weekly:

This study, examining how 19th century American artists "masked and blunted social realities even as they exalted cultural values and ideals," primarily concerns itself with how art conveys--and falsifies--history. A professor at the School of Fine Arts of Indiana University, Burns surveys historical data and sources such as poetry, diary entries and sermons from the period 1830-1900 to illuminate how pastoral art by William Sidney Mount, Winslow Homer and others acted primarily to reinforce an outmoded but still cherished ideal of natural harmony, refusing to portray farm life as it had become by this era: big business. Displayed alongside the familiar "pastoral inventions" of Currier and Ives and the Hudson River School, the little-known black-and-white illustrations unearthed by Burns from journalistic sources (e.g., Harper's ) are not offered as an alternative 19th century tradition, but rather as documentary evidence of grueling agrarian reality. Academically dry in tone, confined in approach and repetitious in argument, Burns's case is presented conscientiously but breaks little new ground.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Many contemporary Americans consider the pining for an idealized country life a relatively recent phenomenon, but Burns corrects this view. From 1830 to 1900, vignettes created by such artists as William Sidney Mount and Winslow Homer expressed a widespread yearning for the innocent, innately good, and idyllic rural world that was to fill a void in the "psyche" of the urbanized, industrialized Northeast. Burn separates fiction from reality, identifies key symbols like the old geezer and the ancient homestead, and compares 19th-century anxieties with those of the 20th century. The text and 157 black-and-white illustrations in this scholarly offering blend beautifully. Recommended for strong American art and history collections.
- Kathleen Eagen Johnson, Historic Hudson Valley, Tarrytown, N.Y.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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