American Painting of the Nineteenth Century: Realism, Idealism, and the American Experience

By Barbara Novak | Go to book overview

13.
William Harnett

EVERY OBJECT RIGHTLY SEEN

We learn nothing rightly until we learn the symbolical character of life. Day creeps after day, each full of facts, dull, strange, despised things, that we cannot enough despise--call heavy, prosaic and desert. The time we seek to kill; the attention it is elegant to divert from things around us. And presently the aroused intellect finds gold and gems in one of these scorned facts--then finds that the day of facts is a rock of diamonds; that a fact is an Epiphany of God. 1 RALPH WALDO EMERSON

The respect for the fact, whether object or place, that characterizes so much American art might easily be mistaken for the famous--or infamous-- American materialism. But Emerson, like the medieval thinkers, saw the fact as the "end or last issue of spirit," and one may speculate, therefore, on the reasons why conceptual realism in America should resemble the late Gothic painting of Jan van Eyck. Originating with Copley, this conceptual mode was inherited by the luminist landscape painters and by a still-life tradition extending almost without interruption or change from Raphaelle Peale ( 1774-1825) (see Ill. 1-9) at the beginning of the century to William Michael Harnett ( 1848-92) at the end (Ill. 13-1). Much American art of the late eighteenth century and of the nineteenth century can in fact be seen as still life, whether a portrait by Copley or a landscape by Lane.

In discussing Vermeer View of Delft, Éienne Gilson has referred to its "actionless existentiality." This quality is precisely what we find in Harnett's works. Alfred Frankenstein has noted, "Place a Harnett still life of the middle 1870's . . . next to a Raphaelle Peale of 1815... and it is impossible to believe that they are separated by two generations, that the one belongs to the era of James Madison and the other to that of U. S. Grant."2

-221-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
American Painting of the Nineteenth Century: Realism, Idealism, and the American Experience
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 352

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.