Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875

Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875

Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875

Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875

Synopsis

In this richly illustrated volume, featuring more than fifty black-and-white illustrations and a beautiful eight-page color insert, Barbara Novak describes how for fifty extraordinary years, American society drew from the idea of Nature its most cherished ideals. Between 1825 and 1875, all kinds of Americans--artists, writers, scientists, as well as everyday citizens--believed that God in Nature could resolve human contradictions, and that nature itself confirmed the American destiny. Using diaries and letters of the artists as well as quotes from literary texts, journals, and periodicals, Novak illuminates the range of ideas projected onto the American landscape by painters such as Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Edwin Church, Asher B. Durand, Fitz H. Lane, and Martin J. Heade, and writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Frederich Wilhelm von Schelling. Now with a new preface, this spectacular volume captures a vast cultural panorama. It beautifully demonstrates how the idea of nature served, not only as a vehicle for artistic creation, but as its ideal form. "An impressive achievement." --Barbara Rose, The New York Times Book Review

"An admirable blend of ambition, elan, and hard research. Not just an art book, it bears on some of the deepest fantasies of American culture as a whole." --Robert Hughes, Time Magazine

Excerpt

The scholarship following upon the earlier editions of Nature and Culture has gratifyingly picked up on some major ideas offered—among them, the importance of science, especially geology, in relation to landscape art, the Italian idyll as an expatriate American dream, the growth of industry and technology, and their impact on nature, the Darwinian watershed and the national crisis of faith that endures even today in attitudes to Creation, intelligent design, and evolution. the scholarship on key landscape figures and on Western art, photography, and landscape painting at large has also expanded, along with museum exhibitions that have carried our knowledge still further. the interdisciplinary character of Nature and Culture has been reinforced eleven years after the 1995 edition by curriculum changes in many colleges that now seek to expand the discourse beyond the boundaries of individual fields.

The ideas adumbrated in the Introduction have begun to seem prescient in the light of the year 2006. I would hope they offer an understanding of constancies in America’s cultural, religious, and political climate that I would not have dreamed to be so useful when I first pointed them out in 1978. To read the present through the past seems especially instructive at this moment in the nation’s history. the nineteenth century offers many clues for Americans and for citizens of other cultures as to political, spiritual, and philosophical attitudes that are still part of the fabric of American culture. That fabric today, of course, is as varied as the nation’s citizenry, but the geography of this large continent also plays its part, and the agricultural . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.