American Art Project Jacquilynn Weaver HIUS 221-B38 LUO February 28, 2014
It is believable that John Vanderlyn, in his painting Landing of Columbus, was trying to portray the success of Columbus and his crew. Columbus heroic stance and elegant expression are made all the more impressive in comparison to the native people who witness the event. The Native Americans are naked, fearful or subservient, bowing down before the explorer in awe and reverence. The symbols of empire are shown in the heroic explorer with his Christian crosses and steel swords symbolizing the significance in the power of civilization. In 1836 of June, Congress had commissioned John Vanderlyn to paint the Landing of Columbus. About eleven years later the painting was hung in the Rotunda by January 1847. Expansion was an overwhelming preoccupation in nineteenth-century America, but it was by no means the only cultural preoccupation. The subject of the painting, foregrounding the ambiguous meeting of two cultures, provided a space for artists to work out many central issues, for example, how to reconcile Indian Removal with notions of the Noble Savage. Another way is how to remake a country torn apart by sectional strife. The following settlements and expansions span the period from 1835 to 1912. Americans had a chaotic eighty-year period that witnessed the filling of Americas geographical borders, the bloody anguish of the Civil War, the horror of slavery in America, the overthrow of Native peoples, and many more events pertaining to the expansion. Vanderlyns painting contains images of contact between European explorers and Native Americans. He clearly shows a representation of what many of the settlements contained and how frightened the Natives were.
John Trumbulls painting of the Declaration of Independence depicts the signing of the declaration by forty-two out of the fifty-six and five patriots. It is believed that Trumbull was paid to paint Jeffersons foot on top of Adams foot to illustrate that Jefferson dominated Adams. However, as time passed, the painting had been exposed to smoke, dirt, humidity, and other elements. Before modern art preservation was mastered, the painting had been repainted to repair damaged areas. The repairing is what changed the shape of Jeffersons foot to look as though it was on Adams foot. The painting of the Declaration of Independence was commissioned by Congress in1817, but the painting was not hung until October 5, 1818. There were no major events recorded during the time of Trumbulls painting. However there were many questions being asked about what compelled Trumbull to paint the scene inaccurately Trumbulls depiction was not to paint the scene correctly, but to show value of the document and its sacred place in our nations history. He wanted to capture the real meaning of the Declaration of Independence and the men who wrote and signed it. It is promising that John Trumbull did a very good job at communicating his message through context and content.
Similar to Trumbulls Declaration of Independence, the General George Washington Resigning His Commission painting features an arrangement of characters with figures standing and seated in the background. Also, in the central action being the transfer of documents, George Washington is standing in the center showing the democratic ideal shared between the two paintings. Furthermore, the addition of a draped cloak over Washingtons chair is reminiscent of a kings robe over a throne. This symbolization is of Washingtons retirement from rule and establishing civilian authority over the military. Trumbulls painting General George Washington Resigning His Commission was commissioned in 1817 and hung in 1824. Many events have occurred during this time, however, none pertain to Trumbulls painting. On the other hand, the painting depicts Washington submitting his resignation as Army Commander-in-Chief to the Congress on December 23, 1783. Washington stands in the center of...
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