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

By Barbara Novak | Go to book overview

2.
Washington Allston

AN AMERICAN ROMANTIC TRADITION

In 1859, in his preface to The Marble Faun, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: "No author without a trial can conceive of the difficulty of writing a romance about a country where there is no shadow, no antiquity, no mystery, no picturesque and gloomy wrong, nor anything but a commonplace prosperity, in broad and simple daylight, as is happily the case with my dear native land."1 Years later, the nineteenth-century critic Sarah Tytler wrote of Washington Allston ( 1779-1843) that he "shared with the writers, Hawthorne and Wendell Holmes, not merely the love of the supernatural, but the predilection for what is abnormal and weird, which strikes us dwellers in the mother country as something in itself abnormal, when it springs up

2-1 Washington Allston: Self Portrait, Rome, 1801-5. Oil on canvas, 313/10 × 26U+215 inches. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Bequest of Alice Hooper.

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