Title

The late paintings of Worthington Whittredge : American Barbizon and the new internationalism.

Date of Award

5-1-2015

Document Type

Thesis

School

College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts

Abstract

The year of the American Centennial and American Centennial Exhibition, 1876, not only marked the first century of the United States existence, but also a new chapter in American history. Coming at the heels of the Civil War and Reconstruction, this heavily symbolic year also bore witness to substantial changes in American life and how the nation envisioned itself through its art. In the interstice between the end of the Hudson River School, which defined America's visual identity throughout the 1850s and 1860s, and the American Barbizon movement, the New York based American artist Worthington Whittredge struggled to redefine his artistic style and identity. This paper examines his stylistic changes between the years 1876 and 1886, which mark the majority of his interaction with the American Barbizon School and his efforts to re-envision the American landscape. Through an analysis of his works from this period, those of several of his contemporaries, and concurrent articles from art journals, I seek to contextualize his progressive change within the trends of the New York art world. Whittredge's unique approach to American Barbizon painting, the palimpsest of the Hudson River School style and its program of depicting American identity through nature still evident in his work, is examined by focusing on the technical changes in his paintings. Furthermore, his atypical approach is studied in connection with his departure from decrying the contemporary advancement of urbanization and industrialization, instead providing a more nuanced and complex understanding of their relation to rural American life. Finally, his ability to see America as an American Barbizon artist is evaluated.