As it is can be learned through the history books, the key feature of an American society of the 18th and 19th centuries is lack of inherited status symbols. In such circumstances of absence of inherited statuses, portraiture serves as one of these symbols: an expensive service itself, it represents the status of a customer. The statement is true both for revolutionary (1765-1800) and early antebellum periods (1801-l840), and the following examples show that the sitters attempt to exhibit their status, achievements and social class through the portraits.
The first portrait is Paul Revere by John Singleton Copley (1768); the portrait depicts a successful artisan holding one of his products in hands: a silver teapot. A few status symbols on the picture can help to identify the person: thus, there are some special instruments in front of the artisan, along with a pencil and the unbuttoned jacket. As Staiti observes, the revolutionary art of the time is characterized by increased patriotism, and the portrait is not an exception: Paul Revere is a prominent Patriot in the American Revolution.
The second picture is Portrait of a Man by Rufus Porter (1830-1835); the sitter is an elegant white upper-class middle-aged man who proudly demonstrates his connection to the marines. The connection can be seen through the golden pendant in the form of anchor; the pendant is purposely pinned in a more prominent place. The proud can be seen through the posture and the face expression (especially tightened lips), and the light blue background emphasizes the effect of nobility.
Finally, the third and the most interesting example is Kee-mén-saw, Little Chief by George Catlin: this portrait depicts a young and well-off, educated Native American person. As with a previous example, the portrait includes the class symbols: he picks the native musical instrument and wears obviously a native part of clothing under the European jacket. The European part of his clothing represents the upper-class status of the person; as it is mentioned by Craven, the emergence of the materialism in art is typical for the US even in earlier periods. Therefore, it is no surprise that the level of wealth oversteps all the prejudice and stereotypes towards Native Americans of that time.
Thus, all the presented portraits are not just simply pieces of art, but they rather convey another message by the sitters who are customers: they emphasize their class and status. The tendency is not an exclusive privilege of white people: one of the examples depicts a well—off, educated Native American. Overall, the portraits emphasize the richness of successfulness of the sitters, and the tendency is typical for the American society of the time due to the fact that it lacks the inherited statuses.
American Landscapes on Paintings
Territorial expansion of the US has led to many consequences, both positive and negative; one of the undoubtedly positive consequences lies in the fact that American artists have been introduced to new landscapes. The painters are eager to picture the stunning pieces of nature, and there …