The Power of Music
The Power of Music (1847) is an iconic work of art that has helped to ensure William Sidney Mount a permanent reputation as one of the greatest American artists. It is a narrative genre painting with elements of portraiture commissioned by Charles M. Leupp. Owned by the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Power of Music is in Gallery 207: “American Art at Home and Abroad.” Set in rural New York before the Civil War, the painting shows an African American man eavesdropping in as a group of Caucasian men enjoy a fiddler’s tune. Starting at the bottom of the canvass, the viewer first sees a strip of arid, nutrient depleted soil. What seem to be maize leaves, rock pebbles, and other dried up foliages occupy the ground. A figure stands here with a jug of molasses and an axe to his right. An old barn is the setting of the narrative. The haggard barn, with a weak foundation, is placed atop a layer of rocks. The floor of the barn is flat yet it is set on uneven ground. The painter gives great detail in the form and texture of the barn. The cracked wood and broken hinges give it a worn down look. Viewers can clearly see the thin crevices of the panels of wood that make up the barn door. In the inside of the barn there are two levels of bunks that make up the left side. The top bunk is...
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