Pivotal Moments in 19th Century America

They say ‘A picture is Worth a Thousand Words’, but I think it’s worth a lot more then a thousand words. There are a dozen emotions that these paintings evoke in us when we view it.  A lot of art from the 19th century is a preview of historical moments. Of hard times, invasions, wars, and many others. You can’t help but feel a certain emotion when you view an individual piece of art. Art has a way of moving us. There have been a lot of historical moments that have been captured forever in the stillness of a painting. There’s the statue of a figurehead who’s forever immortalized in bronze and marble. Where there is light there will always be art.

The Underground Railroad by Charles T. Webber Charles T. Webber painted the Underground Railroad in 1893. It is an oil painting on canvas. The painting depicts Webber’s friends and his own wife, Catherine, helping slaves escape to freedom. This painting is dynamic. You see the slaves under the cover of darkness escaping to a safe haven and freedom. In the center an old male slave being assisted by a woman as he puts his weight on a stick. In the front to the left you see a woman and two children carrying the slaves personal affec6ts. In the back right fading into the background you see more slaves exiting the carriage that transported them to one more step closer of freedom. The main focus though is directly on the slave on the middle of the painting. He’s feeble after a long life of serving masters. It was a life of abuse and punishment all because of the color of his skin. This is the movement to free slaves and let them live a life like anyone else. It’s a sad time and a momentous time that changed life, as we knew it.
Order Number Eleven by George Caleb Bingham Order Number Eleven was painted in 1863 shortly after the Civil War. It’s an oil painting on canvas, unsure of the size. Order Number Eleven was written in protest to confederate troops evicting Missourians from their homes, looting, and destroying their towns. He wanted to bring attention to their mistreatment. The painting uses light and darkness to emphasize the scene. You’re focus is drawn with the lighting to the lady in red pleading with the officers. The emphasis is really around her. The light highlights this scene in the middle left. The lady in red is down on her knees arms up in a pleading manner. The officer has his hand reaching for his gun and there's a sense of intimidation to him. The old man hands up halting the officer and a lady in a pale dress clinging to him as if to say please don’t oppose them. A small child clutches his lower leg peering around at the officer with terror in his eyes. Next to the lady in red you see the limp body of a man with a woman laying across his lifeless body in mourning. To the left there is a limp woman in the arms of a black woman in red. You see smoke billowing in the background on the left. To the back right a line of horse drawn carriages leading away from the main scene masked in darkness, fading into the background. To the front right a man and child fleeing. The light caresses the backs of the man and child. The man has his hands over his face like he’s crying and you see the frightened look of the child. George Caleb Bingham really emphasized and over exaggerated a scene showing the horror inflicted on these innocent people.
The Unwelcomed Guests by Henry Francois Farny The Unwelcomed Guests by Henry Francois Farny was painted in 1887. It is oil on canvas piece of work. It shows the Native and White mans interaction. The white man invaded the Natives land evicting the Natives of that land. The focus is on the Native trying to be welcoming and inviting right in the middle of the painting. The Native is proportionally bigger then the White men. The White Men are smaller and look further off in the painting. The white man all sit with rifles in their lap's glaring and not waving back. All eyes of the men are on the Native. The Native is seen with no weapons on him so as to not intimidate the White man. The blanket of snow is spread throughout the painting, gives a lot of negative space. The painting has few images but you can see where the focus lies. The emphasis shows the Native is not in the least bit trying to be intimidating to the white men. He has no weapons. None of the white man gets up to greet the native and no one waves back trying to invite the Native and befriend him.
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