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American Portraiture of the 18th and 19th Centuries
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The Context18th and 19th Century America

The change from colonial status to that of independent nation is apparent in the emergence of portraiture as a popular form of art. The United States was evolving from a young, emerging country into a strong democratic nation. What began as an art form by trained artists executed for the wealthy and privileged, gradually became popular with untrained artists and common citizens. National and individual identity were captured on canvas.

Remarkable challenges faced our young country at this time. Documents such as the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution and Bill of Rights were created and major events such as the inauguration of George Washington, the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark’s expedition, the War of 1812, the growth of Southern plantations, the beginning of the abolitionist movement, and the Trail of Tears all occurred in this time frame. America’s independence was an exciting, yet daunting opportunity. The portraits of this time are a reflection of the young nation and her growth.





John Woodrow Wilson, MLK Jr., 2002
John Woodrow Wilson, Martin Luther King, Jr., 2002

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