Unknown, Portrait of Mother and Five Children, ca. 1825-1850, Oil on canvas, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1981.11
In the early decades of the nation’s history, portraiture served as an indispensable vehicle for instilling and representing patriotism. For the artists of this era, there was a conscious creative effort to define the country’s ideals and character through formal depictions of public leaders and the upper class. Privately commissioned portraits of wealthy European-Americans, such as Portrait of Mother and Five Children (ca. 1825–50) by an unknown artist, offer ideals of what it meant to be American.