When Cropsey painted The Backwoods of America, land across the country was being developed at an unprecedented pace. This idealized pioneer landscape depicts a remote homestead nestled along the shore of a wilderness lake. As the sun breaks over the mountains, a pioneer family begins its day. A woman stands in the doorway of a log cabin, her young children playing nearby, while her husband heads into the woods, shouldering a long-handled broadax and accompanied by a dog. A garden that includes the distinctly American pumpkin grows in roughly cleared patches along the forest's edge. As if forecasting the imminent end of frontier life, the artist signed his name on a rock resembling a tipped-over gravestone that soon will be covered by the cultivated pumpkin vines.


  • Title: The Backwoods of America
  • Creator: Jasper Francis Cropsey
  • Date Created: 1858
  • Physical Dimensions: 42 x 70 1/4 in. (106.7 x 178.4 cm)
  • Provenance: (W. B. Huggins & Co., Glasgow, Scotland), by 1859; purchased by Private Collection, Glasgow, Scotland, March 10, 1859; (Williams & Sutch, London, England), 1932; to (Leslie W. Lewis, London, England), 1932; purchased by William H. Abbot, London, Ontario, Canada, 1932; given to University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, January 1933; to (Sotheby's, New York, NY), April 23, 1981, lot 18; purchased by Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation, Taylor, MI, 1981; purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2006
  • Subject Keywords: landscapes, men, cabins
  • Rights: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas., Photograph by John Lamberton, courtesy of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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