Washington Allston

Washington Allston (ôl´stən), 1779–1843, American painter and author, b. Georgetown co., S.C. After graduating from Harvard (1800), where he composed music and wrote poetry (published in 1813 as The Sylphs of the Seasons), Allston went to London and there studied painting with Benjamin West. He then spent four years in Rome studying the old masters and began his ambitious religious and allegorical paintings, which at first he rendered with classical reserve. His greatest years were spent in England (1810–18), where his work revealed a sophisticated and controlled, yet romantic mind. An important work of this period was the portrait of his lifelong friend Coleridge. In England and Europe, Allston was the intimate of intellectuals and in frequent contact with the best of Western art. He returned to the United States, where artistic stimulation was lacking, and, as a result, his own work eventually lost its vitality. His allegorical works and his tragic failure, Belshazzar's Feast, over which he labored for more than 20 years, were totally overshadowed by his lyric fantasies—his landscapes and seascapes, of which Moonlit Landscape (1819; Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston) and Ship in a Squall (before 1837; Fogg Art Mus.) are two of the finest. Although he was his own most perceptive critic, Allston persisted in his nostalgic re-creation of monumental neoclassic figure paintings until his death. Samuel F. B. Morse was one of his numerous pupils.

See biographies by J. B. Flagg (1892, repr. 1969) and E. P. Richardson (1948).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Washington Allston: Selected full-text books and articles

Washington Allston, a Study of the Romantic Artist in America
Edgar Preston Richardson.
Univ. of Chicago Press, 1948
American Painting of the Nineteenth Century: Realism, Idealism, and the American Experience
Barbara Novak.
Icon Editions, 1979 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Washington Allston: An American Romantic Tradition"
The Italian Presence in American Art, 1760-1860
Irma B. Jaffe.
Fordham University Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Washington Allston's Moonlit Landscape"
The South in American Literature, 1607-1900
Jay B. Hubbell.
Duke University Press, 1973
Librarian’s tip: "Washington Allston" begins on p. 274
Early American Painting
Frederic Fairchild Sherman.
The Century Co., 1932
Librarian’s tip: "Washington Allston" begins on p. 108
A Concise History of American Painting and Sculpture
Matthew Baigell.
Icon Editions, 1996 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Washington Allston begins on p. 34
American Painting, History and Interpretation
Virgil Barker.
Bonanza Books, 1950
Librarian’s tip: "An Artist of Impulse" begins on p. 339
Margaret Fuller's First Conversation Series: A Discovery in the Archives. (from the Archives)
Ritchie, Amanda.
Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, Vol. 18, No. 2, June 2001
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Eccentrics and Other American Visionary Painters
Abraham A. Davidson.
E. P. Dutton, 1978
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Washington Allston begins on p. 8
The Hudson River School and the Early American Landscape Tradition: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 17 to May 18, 1945
Frederick A. Sweet.
Art Institute of Chicago, 1945
Librarian’s tip: "Washington Allston (1779-1843)" begins on p. 14
Carnival on the Page: Popular Print Media in Antebellum America
Isabelle Lehuu.
University of North Carolina Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "Beatrice" begins on p. 90
The Literature of the American People: An Historical and Critical Survey
Arthur Hobson Quinn.
Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1951
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Washington Allston begins on p. 539
The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854
William W. Freehling.
Oxford University Press, vol.1, 1991
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Washington Allston begins on p. 232
Rituals and Ceremonies in Popular Culture
Ray B. Browne.
Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1980
Librarian’s tip: "Ritual, Process & Definition: Hawthorne's the Artist of the Beautiful and the Creative Dilemma" begins on p. 282
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