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Fine Arts in Antebellum America - History

Fine Arts in Antebellum America - History


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The development of American literature was far more dramatic than that of American fine arts in the antebellum period. Painting was most prevalent of the fine arts in the United States. While the old masters of American painting, such as Benjamin West and Gilbert Stuart, were gone; a new generation had emerged. Among the new painters were Rembrandt Peale, Thomas Sully, John Trumbull and Samuel F. B. Morse, who later invented the telegraph. American students of painting still generally traveled to Europe to study, although a home-grown "school" of painting, the Hudson River School, developed under Thomas Doughty, Asher Durand and Thomas Cole. The term "Hudson River School" was used retrospectively to describe the work of several generations of American landscape painters active between about 1825 and 1870. These painters worked in different locations, but shared common inspiration: the beautiful nature views of the Hudson River Valley, in the Catskill region to the north of New York City

.
In architecture, Greek themes dominating previous Georgian colonial styles. In sculpture, Hiram Powers was the most distinguished American representative. American monuments, generally patriotic, finally caught up with the Revolutionary War; as construction began on the Bunker Hill (1825) and Washington Monuments (1836). The Bunker Hill Monument was built in about 18 years, while the Washington Monument took almost 50 years to complete.


Fine Arts in Antebellum America - History

Drawing from 167 examples of decorative needlework—primarily samplers and quilts from 114 collections across the United States—made by individual women aged forty years and over between 1820 and 1860, this exquisitely illustrated book explores how women experienced social and cultural change in antebellum America.

The book is filled with individual examples, stories, and over eighty fine color photographs that illuminate the role that samplers and needlework played in the culture of the time. For example, in October 1852, Amy Fiske (1785�) of Sturbridge, Massachusetts, stitched a sampler. But she was not a schoolgirl making a sampler to learn her letters. Instead, as she explained, “The above is what I have taken from my sampler that I wrought when I was nine years old. It was w[rough]t on fine cloth [and] it tattered to pieces. My age at this time is 66 years.”

Situated at the intersection of women’s history, material culture study, and the history of aging, this book brings together objects, diaries, letters, portraits, and prescriptive literature to consider how middle-class American women experienced the aging process. Chapters explore the physical and mental effects of “old age” on antebellum women and their needlework, technological developments related to needlework during the antebellum period and the tensions that arose from the increased mechanization of textile production, and how gift needlework functioned among friends and family members. Far from being solely decorative ornaments or functional household textiles, these samplers and quilts served their own ends. They offered aging women a means of coping, of sharing and of expressing themselves. These “threads of time” provide a valuable and revealing source for the lives of mature antebellum women.

Publication of this book was made possible in part through generous funding from the Coby Foundation, Ltd and from the Quilters Guild of Dallas, Helena Hibbs Endowment Fund.

Praise For A Stitch in Time: The Needlework of Aging Women in Antebellum America&hellip

“A welcome contribution to available literature on American nineteenth-century needlework…Her careful review of existing anthropological, historical and needlework literature coupled with a thoughtful analyses of the existing quilts and samplers that formed the core of her study has shown that women’s needlework can help us to better understand the lives and times of the women who made them.”&mdash Textile History

“I highly recommend this newly published look at a previously neglected aspect of sampler andstitching history… well-researched, with many full page color images of the stitched pieces andthe women who created them.”&mdash Swan Sampler Guild Gazette

“The book looks at a field of study that many would think has been well covered from a completely new angle, focusing on older makers rather than styles, fashion, or the education of girls.… [It] brings together anthropological, sociological, and psychological work with decorative arts and straight history.”&mdashDiane L. Fagan Affleck, author of Just New from the Mills: Printed Cottons in America, Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

“This outstanding book is a major contribution to material-culture scholarship. The in-depth analysis of samplers, quilts, and textile arts created by aging women in antebellum America reveals how they used needlework as a key tool to visually express their deep feelings and values. Each chapter explores a theme and is full of personal details, beautiful illustrations, and rich evidence that supports the author’s findings. I believe today’s readers will find meaningful connections across time and space.”&mdashVirginia Gunn, past editor of Uncoverings , the Research Papers of the American Quilt Study Group

“Aimee Newell has produced an extraordinarily rich piece of scholarship that, for once, appropriately and thoughtfully plays on a ubiquitous proverbial phrase. Cutting across many boundaries, A Stitch In Time identifies a large body of needlework made by older women and contextualizes it within the disciplines of history, material culture and anthropology. Beautifully illustrated and thoroughly researched, this important work enhances our understanding of the cultural value of needlework to the women who made it, to the families who preserved it, and to the scholars, collectors and stitchers who appreciate it today.”&mdashLinda Eaton, Director of Collections & Senior Curator of Textiles, Winterthur Museum

&ldquoMeticulously researched and thoughtful. . . . Newell crafts her narrative around the relationship between aging and fiber arts through scrupulously documented case studies that lend her effort compelling immediacy. Even as she rehearses established scholarship, Newell breaks new ground with her emphasis on needlework as an embodied practice deeply implicated in multiple contextual shifts ranging from physical aging to the introduction of new technologies and new forms of middle-class sociability. Summing up: Highly recommended.&rdquo
&mdash CHOICE

&ldquoPrevious studies of samplers focused on schoolgirl work, but Newell wanted to know what women did when they were older&hellip. Newell details individual lives fully so that the makers emerge as real people&hellip. The scholarship is impeccable, and many of the details are compelling.&rdquo
&mdash Winterthur Portfolio

Ohio University Press, 9780821420522, 312pp.

Publication Date: March 15, 2014

About the Author

Aimee E. Newell is director of collections at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington, Massachusetts.


Fine Arts in Antebellum America - History

(above: Gallery view from Artists for Hire in Antebellum Columbus . photo courtesy of The Columbus Museum)

A lmost since its founding in 1828, Columbus citizens have exhibited an interest in art. Many decades before the city's first galleries and museums opened, traveling artists visited the area to display their work to an intrigued citizenry as well as offer their services. This exhibition at The Columbus Museum on exhibit from March 18 through April 24, 2007 features portraits by a few of the artists who visited the city in the 1830s and 1840s, including C.R. Parker, Edward L. Mooney and Edward Troye, as well as a glimpse of the techniques of the traveling artist. [1] (right: Gallery view from Artists for Hire in Antebellum Columbus. photo courtesy of The Columbus Museum)

Rack card for the exhibition

Many decades before Columbus' first galleries and museums opened, traveling artists visited the growing city to display their work to an intrigued citizenry as well as offer their services. This exhibition will feature portraits of Columbus citizens by C.R. Parker, one of the most prolific itinerant artists to travel the South during the 1830s and 1840s. In addition, examples of the work of other artists to visit Columbus during the time period will be included.

Wall text for the exhibition

Artists for Hire in Antebellum Columbus In the decades before photography, painted portraits were very popular in America. Portraits served as symbols of self-expression, assertions of family pride and memorials to individuals. In many large American cities, resident artists supplied the demand for portraits. Smaller communities, such as Columbus during the Antebellum, or pre-Civil War period, relied on traveling, or itinerant, artists for this type of artwork. The work of these itinerant artists is an important part of Columbus' cultural heritage. They have provided us with unique images of some of the community's leading citizens, and a window into an important period in the town's past. This exhibition features the work of one of the most prolific itinerant artists to visit Columbus, C.R. Parker. Combined with original pieces and reproductions of work by itinerants artists Edward Mooney and Edward Troye, this exhibition is the largest single collection of work produced by itinerant artists in Columbus since their visits here in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s. "A portrait is not just a likeness of an individual to be preserved for posterity it is also an image of pride, a projection of social position. A man who wants his portrait painted cannot but attach a certain importance to himself, in whatever sense, and he is not likely to take chances he is concerned about his appearance."

-- R.H. Fuchs in Dutch Painting Itinerant Artists and the South The tremendous demand for portraits in the antebellum South occurred during a period of rapid economic growth in the region. Many of the primary purchasers of portraits, upper- class citizens, amassed great wealth during these years. They made quick fortunes in the cotton, steamboat and railroad trade, as well as mill operation. Aware of these developments, many artists outside the South attempted to take advantage of the situation. Dozens traveled to the region to offer their services. These artists found a small, but wealthy, group of customers in new Southern cities such as Columbus. C.R. Parker A prolific and well-traveled artist, C.R. Parker painted portraits in several Southern cities. He was born in 1799 in Connecticut and by 1825, was working as an artist in Louisiana. While there, he received a commission to paint several large portraits for the Louisiana Capitol. Parke studied in England from 1828 to 1832, during which time he exhibited with the Free Society of Artists in London and became good friends with noted naturalist John James Audubon. After his return, Parker opened a studio in New Orleans. For the next fifteen years, Parker made many tours throughout the Southeast seeking new clients. Parker formed an extensive network of friendships during his travels, and it is believed that it was through one of these connections that he was brought to Columbus in 1838. While here, he painted several portraits of some of the young city's most prominent citizens. C.R. Parker died in 1849 in New Orleans, leaving behind an impressive legacy of portrait painting in the states of the Deep South. " Mr. Parker, a Portrait Painter of very considerable celebrity, has arrived in our city, and taken the rooms hitherto occupied by Mr. McClintock's select school . Mr. P(arker) can make the pictures as nearly represent the splendor of some of our originals, as perhaps any other of his profession."

-- Columbus Enquirer , August 2, 1838 "Mr. Parker informs the public that he will remain sometime in Columbus for the purpose of painting Portraits. (He) would not be doing justice to his feelings, were he not to acknowledge the great pleasure it has given him to meet in this new portion of the State so many of his former friends and patrons. "

-- Columbus Enquirer , September 6, 1838 "The admirers of the fine arts ought not to permit the remaining days of Mr. Parker's stay in our city to pass without calling at his gallery. It will be many days before they will have the opportunity of looking upon such a collection of accurate likenesses."

-- Columbus Enquirer , June 5, 1839 Reproduction of Henry Watson, Jr. ca. 1830 By C.R. Parker 1799-1849 Oil on canvas Courtesy of the Wadsworth Atheneum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut Bequest of Miss Rosa Watson through Miss Cecile A. Watson This portrait is believed to have been painted by Parker in his home state of Connecticut before he moved to the South. It is one of the earliest examples of the signature style that he developed as a young man prior to his arrival in New Orleans, and polished during his later travels in the South. Eliza Beck ca. 1835 By C.R. Parker 1799-1849 Oil on canvas Courtesy of the Louisiana State Historic Museum, New Orleans Parker probably painted this portrait in his studio on Canal Street in New Orleans. It is a good example of the type of work for which he would have been known, both in that city and throughout the South. Parker's work was popular largely because people admired the crisp details and warm likenesses. This portrait depicts Eliza Beck, the wife of New Orleans notary public Thomas Jefferson Beck. Grigsby Eskeridge Thomas, Sr. 1838 By C.R. Parker 1799-1849 Oil on canvas Gift of Dr. William L. Sibley III and his wife, Ruth F. Sibley 2005.36.1 Mary A. Shivers Thomas 1838 By C.R. Parker 1799-1849 Oil on canvas Gift of Dr. William L. Sibley III and his wife, Ruth F. Sibley 2005. 36.2 Two of Columbus' earliest settlers, Grigsby Thomas and his wife Mary Shivers Thomas, arrived here from Hancock County, Georgia in 1830. Before moving, Mr. Thomas had been a member of the Georgia State Assembly where he achieved recognition for helping write the 1823 act abolishing imprisonment for debt in Georgia. In 1832, he was elected Judge of the Chattahoochee Circuit Court. After his first wife died in 1845, he married Elizabeth Frederick Shingleur Thomas. Their house, built around 1850 on Rose Hill, was one of the first and largest homes built in that neighborhood. Mrs. James Kivlin ca. 1838 By C.R. Parker 1799-1849 Oil on canvas Gift of Mrs. Edgar C. Mayo in memory of Edgar C. Mayo 1973.81 Louisa Dillard married James Kivlin in Columbus in April of 1830. A merchant by trade, Kivlin helped form the first company that sold ice in Columbus, was treasurer of one of its first fire departments, and served several terms as a city health officer. John Boswell ca. 1838 By C.R. Parker, 1799-1849 Oil on canvas Courtesy of the Museum of Mississippi History, Jackson, MS Mrs. John Boswell ca. 1838 By C.R. Parker, 1799-1849 Oil on canvas Courtesy of the Museum of Mississippi History, Jackson, MS John Boswell was born in Virginia and moved to Athens, Georgia in the 1830s. , There,he met and married Ms. Amanda Simms. The Boswells later moved to Columbus, where Mr. Boswell practiced medicine until the outbreak of the Civil War. These portraits were painted during the couples's stay in Columbus. They moved to Mississippi afterwards, where they lived the remainder of their lives. Hines Holt 1838 By C.R. Parker 1799-1849 Oil on canvas Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. John Holt, Jr. Mrs. Hines Holt 1838 By C.R. Parker 1799-1849 Oil on canvas Courtesy of Finn Holt Fountain Hines Holt was one of the most well-known political figures in early Columbus. Holt served as a member of Congress, a state senator, and member of the Confederate Congress, as well as a Colonel in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Holt is also remembered in Columbus history for his delivery of the welcome address for noted political figure Henry Clay when he visited the city in 1844. He married Sarah Ann Charlotte Perry in Columbus in 1838. He died in 1865, while serving as a delegate to the state constitutional convention in Milledgeville. Louis Mouton ca. 1830s By C.R. Parker 1799-1849 Oil on canvas Anonymous loan Mrs. Louis Mouton ca. 1830s By C.R. Parker 1799-1849 Oil on canvas Anonymous loan These paintings of two citizens of New Orleans help to illustrate Parker's style and the reasons his work is often linked with the "headless body" theory. The subjects are shown in essentially the same location on the canvas as many of Parker's other subjects, and details of their clothing are startlingly similar to other examples of his work. Reproduction of Frederick ca. 1830s By C.R. Parker 1799-1849 Oil on canvas Courtesy of the Natchez Pilgrimage Garden Club, Natchez, MS This portrait features s a slave of a Natchez, Mississippi family. It was very rare for slaves to have their portraits painted during Parker's era. The, fact that this one survives may indicate the family held him in unusually high esteem. Parker spent several seasons in Natchez, Mississippi, north of New Orleans on the Mississippi River, painting for the many wealthy families in the area. The "Headless Body" Theory One of the most famous legends associated with itinerant artists is the "headless body" theory. According to this theory, artists would arrive in a city with several canvases on which were painted bodies, with only the head of the sitter to be completed. This technique would have saved valuable time, and allowed the artists to maximize the number of portraits they could produce. Skeptics list several reasons why this theory may be false, however. They point out that scale and proportion are relatively difficult to achieve this way, and the different drying times of the paints should have left clues that the portraits were created in two stages. In addition, no evidence exists to support the theory, either in the comments of sitters or through the discovery of uncompleted "headless" portraits. The theory is sustained, however, by the remarkable similarities in the paintings and the knowledge that the technique would have allowed artists to create paintings, and thus profits, more quickly. Traveling Artists and Their Techniques Most itinerants artists were well-known, established painters. Their portraits are usually good representations of the appearance of their subjects and excellent indicators of popular tastes at the time they were created. In general, the most esteemed portrait painters during the Antebellum period were those whose work was seen as most realistic. The majority of itinerants artists who worked in the South made their way to towns like Columbus from larger cities, such as New Orleans and New York. Staying for short periods of time, they lived with acquaintances while in town. Itinerants artists commonly rented studio space and advertised their services in local papers once they arrived. In addition to their painting supplies, many brought an assortment of other items such as outfits, jewelry, and even furniture to be featured in their paintings. Reproduction of The Itinerant Artist Charles Bird King Oil on canvas Courtesy of the New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown Columbus During the Era of Itinerants Artists In the 1830s, Columbus was a new and rapidly growing city. By the time of C.R. Parker's arrival a decade after its founding, the city boasted a population of over 4,000. One of of the most industrialized Southern towns of its size, Columbus featured several industries that relied on Chattahoochee River water power. Because it was the head of navigation on the river, it occupied a strategic position in a regional trading network tied to world markets through the port of Apalachicola. Among its population, Columbus included many businessmen, planters and politicians who had both an appreciation of the arts and the money to purchase portraits. The artists who visited the city in its first decades of existence, including Henry B. Matterson, J.H. Mifflin, Edward Troye, Edward Mooney, John W. Jarvis, George Cooke, John Maier and Thomas Wightman, were greeted by an interested and receptive clientele. Plan of the City of Columbus, Georgia, as surveyed by Edward Lloyd Thomas, 1828 Courtesy of the Historic Columbus Foundation These houses were typical of the type of homes occupied by Columbus' upper class during the height of itinerant activity in the town. This postcard shows St. Elmo, constructed in the 1830s by one of Columbus' wealthy citizens, circa. 1910. Museum purchase made possible by the Evelyn S. and H. Wayne Patterson Fund 2006.12 13 Seventh Street in Columbus, constructed in 1835 Courtesy of the Historic Columbus Foundation Second Columbus Courthouse, constructed 1838-1840 Courtesy of the Columbus State University Archives First Trinity Episcopal Church, completed in 1837 Courtesy of Columbus State University Archives Edward L. Mooney Artist Edward Ludlow Mooney, visited Columbus in 1847. A native of New York, Mooney studied at the New York Academy of Design and worked as a sign painter before becoming a student of the famous artist Henry Inman. He first gained national attention for his copies of Inman's famous portrait of President Martin Van Buren. He later became the first recipient of the National Academy of Design's gold medal. He was best known for his portraits of some of the most famous men of his day, including Oliver H. Perry and William H. Seward. Mooney worked primarily in New York City, but spent many winters in the south painting leading members of society in several Southern cities. "Mr. Mooney has taken rooms over Messrs. Malone and Hudson's Store, and is prepared to execute all orders in the line of his profession. Specimens may be seen at his rooms."

-- Columbus Enquirer , November 16, 1847 John A. Urquhart 1847 By Edward L. Mooney 1813-1887 Oil on canvas Courtesy of the Estate of Sara D. Spencer Mary Jane Shorter Urquhart 1847 By Edward L. Mooney 1813-1887 Oil on canvas Courtesy of the Estate of Sara D. Spencer As a young man physician John A. Urquhart moved to Columbus from Augusta, Georgia. He was the first president of the Columbus Temperance Society. He is most well known in local history for serving as the first captain of the Columbus Guards during the Creek War of 1836. He married Mary Jane Shorter in 1837. The daughter of Alabama Governor John Gill Shorter, Mrs. Urquhart was a leading figure in the Ladies' Soldier's Friend Society during the Civil War. Reproduction of John L. Mustian 1847 By Edward L. Mooney 1813-1887 Oil on canvas Gift of Miss Georgia Wilkins 1959.12 Reproduction of Julia Frances Mustian 1847 By Edward L. Mooney 1813-1887 Oil on canvas Gift of Miss Georgia Wilkins 1959.14 On display in the Columbus Museum's History Gallery John L. Mustian was a stage line operator and prominent railroad developer in Georgia and Alabama. In 1845, he was elected to the Georgia Legislature as a Whig representative from Muscogee County. He is best remembered, however, for his role in developing Warm Springs, Georgia, into a spa and resort which in its early years was frequented by many members of the Columbus elite. Mustian built the first hotel for visitors to the natural springs, which were famous for their soothing and healing qualities. Julia Frances Mustian survived both her daughter and granddaughter, and raised her great granddaughter Georgia Mustian Wilkins. Georgia Wilkins donated much of the family's land for the establishment of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis at Warm Springs, and became a good friend of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. Reproduction of John Fontaine 1847 By Edward L. Mooney 1813-1887 Oil on canvas Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry C. Jackson and CB&T 1982.50 Reproduction of Mary Ann Stewart Fontaine 1847 By Edward L. Mooney 1813-1887 Oil on canvas Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry C. Jackson and CB&T 1982.51 On display in the Columbus Museum's Chattahoochee Legacy Gallery John Fontaine was the first elected mayor of Columbus. Under his leadership, the city began to actively promote industrial development along its riverfront, beginning a trend that would eventually make it one of the leading industrial centers in the South. A wealthy steamboat owner and cotton merchant, he was one of Columbus' foremost businessmen both before and after his service as mayor. Little is known about the life of his wife, Mary Ann Stewart Fontaine, outside of the fact that she was a prominent member of early Columbus society. Edward Troye One of the most well- known painters to visit Columbus in the Antebellum period was Edward Troye. Born in Switzerland and raised in London, Troye came from an accomplished family with deep appreciation for the arts. Troye studied art in England and worked in the West Indies before coming to America as a magazine illustrator. He painted a variety of subjects over the course of his career, but became especially known in his day as the leading painter of horses of his day. He is believed to have painted over 350 horses in his lifetime, and received commissions from racehorse owners all across the South. He visited this area as early as 1836, where he painted Indian Agent John Crowell's famous racehorse, John Bascombe . "Did you ever see a likeness that looked more like a man than he did like himself? Step in at No. 18, Oglethorpe House, and take a look at some . Mr. Troye has suited his charges to the hardness of the times, and deserves the patronage of those who wish a perfect likeness. Call and see him."

-- Columbus Enquirer , February 7, 1844 Reproduction of John Bascombe 1844 By Edward Troye 1808-1874 Oil on canvas Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery, Whitney Collections of Sporting Art, given in memory of Harry Payne Whitney, B.A. 1894, and Payne Whitney, B.A. 1898, by Francis P. Garvan, B.A. 1897, M.A. (Hon.) 1922 One of the most celebrated racehorses in American history, John Bascombe achieved fame in 1835 and 1836 by winning three races against well-known competition. He defeated Volney in Columbus, General Wade Hampton's Argyle in Augusta, and Post Boy , considered at the time to be the best racehorse in the country, in New York. Making his feat all the more memorable, John Bascombe walked the entire way to and from Union Course in Long Island for the final race. Reproduction of Sir Henry ca. 1840s By Edward Troye 1808-1874 Oil on canvas Courtesy of the New York Historical Society, Cooperstown, New York 1909.5 These prints illustrates the type of work for which Troye was celebrated in 19th century America. Easily the most famous of the itinerant artists to visit Columbus during the Antebellum era, he was especially known as a painter of horses. A horse painted by him was ensured of becoming known far beyond its home region. The Legacy of Itinerants Artists The age of itinerant artists in Columbus was a brief but significant one. Although the new technology of photography had greatly decreased demand for their services by the early 1850s, itinerant artist's work remains an important part of the historical record. Their portraits are often the only known likenesses of their subjects, and are products of some of the most talented artists of the Antebellum period. Just as importantly, their work has preserved for us a moment in Columbus' history through which we can better understand some of the people who helped transform the city from a small frontier settlement to a thriving urban center within the course of two decades. "Death may deprive us of a beloved associate or a dear friend, but the painter cheats, in some measure, the fell destroyer, and preserves to us a perfect presentment of those whom, living, we so fondly loved, and whose memories, in death, we so dearly cherish."

-- From a memorial to artist Trevor Thomas Fowler, in the New Orleans Times-Picayune , February 13, 1842


Civil War and Reconstruction

The New York-born artist Edmonia Lewis, of African-American and Native-American descent, studied at Oberlin College in the early 1860s and later gained fame as a sculptor. Her work included busts of Robert Gould Shaw (the Boston army colonel killed while leading black Union Army troops in the Civil War), John Brown and Abraham Lincoln, as well as sculptures inspired by the Emancipation Proclamation and the narrative poem “The Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The Civil War era spawned some memorable autobiographical works by African-American women, such as the diaries of Charlotte Forten, the daughter of a Philadelphia civil rights activist. The former slave Elizabeth Keckley, who became a confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln, published �hind the Scenes or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House” in 1868, while Frances Ellen Watkins Harper wrote “Sketches of Southern Life” (1872), a volume of poetry based on her travels among freed people in the Reconstruction-era South.


Fine Arts in Antebellum America - History

February is also known as Black History Month, an observance that originated in the United States. Recently it has gained official recognition in Canada. (Interestingly, it is also celebrated in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the UK—in October). For many years, I felt that the shortest, coldest month of the year (I grew up in Philly) was simply not sufficient to celebrate, explore, or magnify the rich history of the peoples of the African Diaspora. As an artist, educator, historian, and, most recently, Chair of the California Arts Council, I have made it my business to study and expose myself to the brilliance of artistic excellence across the board. Personally, however, I have always been particularly interested in African American art because it is my heritage and has often been left out of the art-historical canon. I worked at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in the 1990s, and in February we would be inundated with requests from schools and corporations for some kind of obligatory Black History Month presentation. That’s when I learned to adopt the idea that “every month is Black History Month,” and that we should be celebrating the contributions of all peoples, continuously, throughout the year. It goes without saying that 2020 was fraught with difficulty, especially for the Black and Brown communities, which were disproportionately hit with the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism. For me, celebrating Black lives and achievements is all the more essential now. In fact, acknowledgment of Black History Month has expanded beyond schools to include other educational and cultural organizations, such as museums, and even the business/corporate world.

"A Race without knowledge of its history is like a tree without roots."

February was chosen as Black History Month for a reason. The historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson felt that African American contributions to the history of this nation and the world were “overlooked, ignored and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who used them. Race prejudice,” he concluded, “is merely the logical result of a flawed tradition, the inevitable outcome of thorough instruction to the effect that the Negro has never contributed anything to the progress of mankind.” In 1926 Woodson pioneered the celebration of Negro History Week, designated for the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Interestingly, that same year, the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library in Harlem purchased the bibliophile and collector Arturo Schomburg’s vast collection of books, manuscripts, prints, paintings, and other materials related to the African Diasporic experience, thus forming the foundation for the world-renowned Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Schomburg, a self-described Puerto Rican of African descent, had once allegedly been told by a fifth-grade teacher that his people had “no history, no heroes and no great moments.” This led him to pursue and amass a vast collection of the material proof of Black historic accomplishment. It was the height of a Black cultural awakening, the New Negro Movement, also known as the Harlem Renaissance, and the collection provided the “vindicated evidence” of Black achievement throughout history and the sustenance for new and powerful voices of creative expression. The library also hosted lectures, performances, and art exhibitions that provided a platform for Black artists and writers and that made the collection more accessible to the wider public. I believe we are currently experiencing a contemporary cultural renaissance—this time it is global.

"Knowledge is better than riches."

One prominent artist from the Harlem Renaissance who is represented in the de Young collection is Aaron Douglas. A pioneering Africanist and modernist, Douglas is the visual artist most often associated with the New Negro Renaissance in Harlem. His illustrations appeared on book covers and posters as well as in numerous journals and magazines, including the NAACP’s The Crisis and the National Urban League’s Opportunity, two major publications from the period. He was the only African American illustrator for the defining book of the time, The New Negro (1925), an anthology edited by Dr. Alain Locke. Douglas’s work helped set the visual tone of the era by incorporating ancestral motifs combined with aesthetic, social, and political themes. His work Aspiration (1936) is one of two extant paintings from a four-part mural commissioned for the Texas Centennial. The painting depicts themes such as the legacy of slavery as foundational to American history, commerce, and culture the Great Migration of Black Americans from the agrarian South to the industrial North and the idea that with exposure to educational opportunity, art, and science (think STEAM), African Americans would have the tools to enter into the future and to help form a more just and perfect society. Even though much progress has been made by African Americans in the many fields of endeavor depicted in Aspiration, Douglas’s utopian vision of the proverbial City on the Hill, with its attendant promise of an equitable, productive, enlightened, and prosperous nation, is still an elusive dream for many. In this current climate of racial strife, lost jobs, and homelessness, the struggle continues. Aspiration proffers a relevant and hopeful vision, and reminds us to keep our eyes on the prize.

Aaron Douglas, Aspiration, 1936. Oil on canvas, 60 x 60 in. (152.4 x 152.4 cm). Museum purchase, 1997.84. © Heirs of Aaron Douglas/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

"We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open."

In 1970 Negro History Week was expanded to the entire month of February, and in 1976 it was designated “Black History Month” nationally. Interestingly, February is the birth month of numerous luminaries of African descent, including Langston Hughes, Richard Allen, Rosa Parks, Yara Shahidi, Hank Aaron, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Michael B. Jordan, Julius Erving, Smokey Robinson, Rick James, Dennis Edwards, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Leontyne Price, Nina Simone, Sidney Poitier, Joshua Redman, Augusta Savage, Deborah Willis, Fats Domino, Natalie Cole, Eubie Blake, Roberta Flack, Erykah Badu, Bob Marley, Alison Saar, Horace Pippin, William Artis, Raymond Holbert, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Rihanna, Huey Newton, Samella Lewis, Ollie Harrington, Gregory Hines, Maceo Parker, Aida Overton Walker, JA Rule, Ice-T, and many others of note. In addition, Bay Area community activist Mable D. Howard and W. E. B. Du Bois, who once danced together, both had birthdays in February. With so many notable figures born in this month, Woodson was definitely on to something. (It’s ironic that these are all babies conceived around Juneteenth, in perhaps an unconscious commemoration of Emancipation!) Speaking of Mable Howard, her daughter Mildred’s work is also in the de Young collection. Of her silkscreened print entitled How’s This for a Native Product?, from the portfolio Beyond (1992), the artist says:

"The two boys in the image came from a stereograph post card that I had collected. The piece is part of a series I did about my family’s move from Texas to California what they left behind and what they brought with them. These stereotypical images of Blacks were often combined with those depicting ordinary Black families. Although none of my family members were used in this piece, it makes reference to how the media uses such images to plant negative thoughts about those that look different. The work portrays both the satire and the reality of racial injustice in this country."

Mildred Howard, How's this for a native product?, 1992. Color photo screenprint. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Frances Tullis and Reginald Leighton Vaughan Memorial Fund, gift of Reginald Bethune Vaughan and Dr. and Mrs.Donald Heyneman Fund, 1992.146.6. © Mildred Howard

Unfortunately, in the current sociopolitical climate of this country, we find that negative stereotypes continue to be propagated to marginalize Black people and to justify inequity, racial profiling, and violence against Black bodies and other communities of color. Art has consistently given voice to those who feel they have no say, and expressed the sentiments of the masses. Because art has the power to heal and to change the narrative, I remain cautiously optimistic.

"All human wisdom is contained in these two words—Wait and Hope."

Elizabeth Catlett, Stepping Out, 2000. Laminated mahogany, 64 1/2 x 21 x 17 1/2 in. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, The Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Art Fund, Inc., Beta Upsilon Boulé - Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, The Links, Incorporated - San Francisco Chapter, Fine Arts Museums Tribute Funds, Ms. Del M. Anderson and Mr. John Handy, Mrs. Marguerite Archer, Rena Merritt Bancroft, PhD Ms. Jo-Ann Beverly, Rev. "J" Edgar Boyd, Mrs. Mary Pat Cress, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Geist, Maxwell C. and Frankie Jacobs Gillette, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Johnson, Jr. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Lathan, Mr. and Mrs. Terry E. Perucca and Dr. Alma Ribbs, 1999.199. © Catlett Mora Family Trust/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Elizabeth Catlett’s Stepping Out (2000) reminds me of the central role Black women have always played and continue to play in our culture and politics. This past year, women like Kamala Harris, London Breed, Barbara Lee, Holly Mitchell, Sydney Kamlager-Dove, Maxine Waters, Stacie Abrams, Keisha Bottoms, Val Demings, Karen Bass, Muriel Bowser, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi (the co-founders of Black Lives Matter) have demonstrated the power and bravery it takes to effect change in society. These women come from a long line of fearless activists who have often put their lives and careers on the line in order to confront the forces of oppression. Stepping Out is a visual affirmation of that strength and style, and asserts an unapologetic acceptance of a standard of beauty celebrating the Black woman’s body. The heroines in Catlett’s oeuvre show a firm resolve in overcoming the obstacles of racism and sexism that have plagued our existence for centuries.

A further affirmation of this resolve is the fact that there is currently a record number of Black women in leadership roles in our cultural and political systems. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement, founded by three women, has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for the way its calls for systemic change have spread around the world, and has become an important global movement to fight racial injustice everywhere. People are literally “stepping out” in unity for that fair and just world Aaron Douglas envisioned. Most inspiring are the creatives who are using the arts to help spread the message of solidarity and social justice. February-born writer Audre Lorde once said, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” This movement asserts that All lives will not matter until Black lives truly matter. It is a celebration and affirmation of our collective humanity.

"Artists are the gatekeepers of truth."

Robert Colescott, The Brown Grandmother of the Year, 1994. Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 72 in. (213.4 x 182.9 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of John B. and Jane K. Stuppin, 1997.47. © Estate of Robert Colescott / ARS (Artist Rights Society), New York, NY

Robert Colescott’s The Brown Grandmother of the Year (1994) is a luscious example of his skill as a painter’s painter and his ability to combine satire with biting social commentary. I first met Bob Colescott when his work was featured in the Black History Month exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where I worked in the 1980s. I didn’t know anything about him or his work, and was aghast when I first saw images of I Gets a Thrill Too When I Sees De Koo (1978), which features a depiction of a de Kooning–esque woman dressed as an Aunt Jemima–type character. I could not imagine presenting his work to a city with a majority Black population for Black History Month. But after a conversation with the artist and with scholar/curator Lowery Sims, who characterized Colescott’s paintings as “aggressively colorful gestural examples of funky Bay Area figuration and humor,” I got it and became a fan.

Interestingly, the first real artist Colescott met as a child also has work in the de Young’s collection. Sargent Claude Johnson worked with Colescott’s father on the railroad, and his daughter was a playmate of Robert’s. Standing Woman (1934) is a sculpture by Johnson, a prolific artist who worked with the Works Progress Administration in San Francisco and could be considered a West Coast representative in the second wave of the Negro Arts Renaissance. The sculpture has a quiet strength in its simplicity. Its demeanor is also the opposite of the wily Black Madonna / Mammy persona of Colescott’s Brown Grandmother. According to the artist’s widow, Jandava Colescott:

"This painting is strongly driven by textile artistry and is reminiscent of quilts, tapestries and banners: the Italian Palio banner, in particular. Grandmothers are perennially coaxing cheers from tears: and this one wrangles her attributes—savory, sweet, soft, delectable and deadly alike—into the staff of life itself. She has birthed, raised, and nurtured legions. A simperingly presented, and demeaning statuette from a seven fingered paw, the (Mammy Grammy) seems lacking, at best and offensive, at worse, with its white gloved pose, courtesy of Al Jolson. Nonplussed and with a resigned side eye informed by eons, her attention shifts to the task at hand. And, as the Universe cries out for her ministrations yet again, her chromatic nimbus, a chartreuse halo, coalesces into pulsating, curative rays of violet and Aztec gold. "

Sargent Claude Johnson, Standing Woman, 1934. Terracotta, 15 3/8 x 4 1/2 x 4 in. (39.1 x 11.4 x 10.2 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum collection, Federal Art Project, X1993.1

The Grandmother of the Year trophy/award adds insult to injury. Colescott’s painting is yet another nod to the myth of the central role Black women have played in the world as stereotypical caretakers with no power or recognition, little support, and all of the attendant assumptions, burdens, and indignities.

I would be remiss not to mention the work of Joshua Johnson in the de Young collection. Johnson, active in Baltimore from the late 18th to the early 19th century, was the first African American to be recognized as a professional artist and portrait painter. In a 1798 newspaper ad posted by the artist, he refers to himself as “a self-taught genius who has had to overcome many insufferable obstacles in pursuit of his craft.” This is indicative of the plight even of Free Black people during the antebellum period of this country’s history. Johnson’s Letitia Grace McCurdy (ca. 1800–1802) is a classic example of his skill painting children.The elements of the little red shoes, the puppy, and a hint of the landscape in the background are signature motifs. Given the circumstances, it was an act of defiance for a Black man to pursue a career in the fine arts in the nascent years of America.

Joshua Johnson, Letitia Grace McCurdy, ca. 1800–1802. Oil on canvas, 41 x 34 1/2 in. (104.1 x 87.6 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Acquired by public subscription on the occasion of the centennial of the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum with major contributions from The Fine Arts Museums Auxiliary, Bernard and Barbro Osher, the Thad Brown Memorial Fund, and the Fine Arts Museums Volunteer Council, 1995.22

Finally, this past year has brought the environment into sharp focus and put climate change in the forefront of our collective consciousness. With the historic wildfires in the West and unprecedented hurricanes in the East, we in the US have had to face the sobering reality of global warming and an understanding that we can no longer take Mother Earth for granted. Richard Mayhew’s lyrical, colorful painting Rhapsody (2002) is a reminder of the spirit inherent in the land. While the artist calls his paintings “mindscapes,” his work is an exploration of light, color, and forms in nature, and are evocative of its transcendent beauty. Inspired by the landscape, music, Impressionism, and his African American and Native American heritages, Mayhew has also been an integral part of the larger history of mid-century African American artists and educators. He was an original member of Spiral, a collective of Black artists that grew out of the call for a visual arts component to the Civil Rights Movement. He also taught at several universities over the course of his career. There is a meditative quality about Mayhew’s work. The colors are rich yet soothing. But his work is also a clarion call for the preservation of the environment, for beauty and for harmony. In spite of the pandemic and shutdown, he is still painting, enthusiastically, at the age of 96. Mayhew is an inspiration to us all, and his example demonstrates that no matter what, keep working, keep creating, and surround yourself with beauty. Coda: Black is still, essentially, Beautiful.

Richard Mayhew, Rhapsody, 2002. Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in. (121.9 x 152.4 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Volunteer Council Art Acquisition Fund, 2010.2. © Richard Mayhew


Contents

Virginia Edit

From 1700 to 1740 an estimated number of 43,000 slaves were imported into Virginia, and almost all but 4,000 were imported directly from Africa. [2] Recent scholarship suggests that the number of women and men imported in this period was more or less equal and included a high number of children. [2] As most were from West Africa, its cultures were central in mid- to late- eighteenth-century slave life in Virginia. African values were prevalent and West African women's cultures had strong representations. Some prevalent cultural representations were the deep and powerful bonds between mother and child, and among women within the larger female community. [3] Among the Igbo ethnic group in particular (from present-day Nigeria), which comprised between one-third and one-half of incoming slaves in the early eighteenth century, female authority (the omu) "ruled on a wide variety of issues of importance to women in particular and the community as a whole." [4] The Igbo represented one group of people brought to the Chesapeake, but in general, Africans came from an extremely diverse range of cultural backgrounds. All came from worlds where women's communities were strong, [5] and were introduced into a patriarchal and violently racist and exploitative society white men typically characterized all black women as passionately sexual, to justify their sexual abuse and miscegenation. [6]

Virginia girls, much less black girls, were not educated, and most were illiterate. African and African American female slaves occupied a broad range of positions. The southern colonies were majorly agrarian societies and enslaved women provided labor in the fields, planting and doing chores, but mostly in the domestic sphere, nursing, taking care of children, cooking, laundering, etc. [7]

New England Edit

Historian Ira Berlin distinguished between "slave societies" and "societies with slaves." New England was considered to be a society with slaves, dependent on maritime trade and diversified agriculture, in contrast to the slave societies of the south, which were "socially, economically, and politically dependent on slave labor, had a large enslaved population, and allowed masters extensive power over their slaves unchecked by the law." [8] New England had a small slave population and masters thought of themselves as patriarchs with the duty to protect, guide, and care for their slaves. [8] Enslaved women in New England had greater opportunity to seek freedom than in other regions because of "the New England legal system, the frequency of manumission by owners, and chances for hiring out, especially among enslaved men, who seized the opportunity to earn enough money to purchase a wife and children." [9]

Enslaved women largely occupied traditional "women's work" roles and were often hired out by the day. They worked mainly as maids, in the kitchen, the barn, and the garden. They did menial and servile tasks: polished family silver or furniture, helped with clothes and hair, drew baths, barbered the men, and completed menial domestic chores like sweeping, emptying chamber pots, carrying gallons of water a day, washing the dishes, brewing, looking after young children and the elderly, cooking and baking, milking the cows, feeding the chickens, spinning, knitting, carding, sewing, and laundering. [9] Their daily work was less demanding than the field labor of enslaved women in other regions. Nonetheless enslaved women in New England worked hard, often under poor living conditions and malnutrition. "As a result of heavy work, poor housing conditions, and inadequate diet, the average black woman did not live past forty." [10]

Enslaved women were given to white women as gifts from their husbands, and as wedding and Christmas gifts. [10] The idea that New England masters treated their slaves with greater kindness in comparison to southern slave-owners is a myth. They had little mobility freedom and lacked access to education and any training. "The record of slaves who were branded by their owners, had their ears nailed, fled, committed suicide, suffered the dissolution of their families, or were sold secretly to new owners in Barbados in the last days of the Revolutionary War before they become worthless seems sufficient to refute the myth of kindly masters. They lashed out at their slaves when they were angry, filled with rage, or had convenient access to horsewhip." [11] Female slaves were sometimes forced by their masters into sexual relationships with enslaved men for the purpose of forced breeding. It was also not uncommon for enslaved women to be raped and in some cases impregnated by their masters. [ citation needed ]

Southern colonies Edit

Regardless of location, slaves endured hard and demeaning lives, but labor in the southern colonies was most severe. The southern colonies were slave societies they were "socially, economically, and politically dependent on slave labor, had a large enslaved population, and allowed masters extensive power over their slaves unchecked by the law." [8] Plantations were the economic power structure of the South, and male and female slave labor was its foundation. Early on, slaves in the South worked primarily in agriculture, on farms and plantations growing indigo, rice, and tobacco cotton became a major crop after the 1790s. Female slaves worked in a wide variety of capacities. They were expected to do field work as well as have children, and in this way increase the slave population. In the years before the American Revolution, the female slave population grew mainly as a result of natural increase and not importation. "Once slaveholders realized that the reproductive function of the female slave could yield a profit, the manipulation of procreative sexual relations became an integral part of the sexual exploitation of female slaves." [12] Many slave women raised their children without much assistance from males. Enslaved women were counted on not only to do their house and field work, but also to bear, nourish, and rear the children whom slaveholders sought to continually replenish their labor force. As houseslaves, women were domestic servants: cooking, sewing, acting as maids, and rearing the planter's children. Later on they were used in many factories, instrumental in the development of the United States, where they were kept at lower maintenance costs. [ citation needed ]

During the Revolutionary War (1775–83) enslaved women served on both sides, the Loyalist army as well as the Patriots', as nurses, laundresses, and cooks. But as historian Carol Berkin writes, "African American loyalties were to their own future, not to Congress or to king." [13] Enslaved women could be found in army camps and as camp followers. They worked building roads, constructing fortifications, and laundering uniforms, "but they remained slaves rather than refugees. Masters usually hired these women out to the military, sometimes hiring out their children as well." [14] Enslaved women could also be found working in the shops, homes, fields, and plantations of every American colony. It is estimated that by 1770, there were more than 47,000 enslaved blacks in the northern colonies, almost 20,000 of them in New York. More than 320,000 slaves worked in the Chesapeake colonies, making 37 percent of the population of the region African or African American. Over 187,000 of these slaves were in Virginia. In the Lower South there were more than 92,000 slaves. South Carolina alone had over 75,000 slaves, and by 1770 planters there were importing 4,000 Africans a year. In many counties in the Lower South, the slave population outnumbered the white. [15]

Although service in the military did not guarantee enslaved people their freedom, black men had the opportunity to escape slavery by enlisting in the army. During the disruption of war, both men and women ran away. Men were more likely to escape, as pregnant women, mothers, and women who nursed their elderly parents or friends seldom abandoned those who depended on them. [16] So many slaves deserted their plantations in South Carolina, that there were not enough field hands to plant or harvest crops. As food grew scarce, the blacks who remained behind suffered from starvation or enemy attack. The Crown issued certificates of manumission to more than 914 women as reward for serving with Loyalist forces. [17] But many women who had won their freedom lost it again "through violence and trickery and the venality of men entrusted with their care." [18] Others who managed to secure their freedom faced racial prejudice, discrimination, and poverty. When loyalist plantations were captured, enslaved women were often taken and sold for the soldiers' profit. [14] The Crown did keep promises to manumissioned slaves, evacuating them along with troops in the closing days of the war, and resettling more than 3,000 Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia, and others in the Caribbean, and England. In 1792 it established Freetown, in what is now Sierra Leone, as a colony for Poor Blacks from London, as well as Black Loyalists from Canada who wanted to relocate.

One of the most well-known voices for freedom around the Revolutionary era was Phillis Wheatley of Massachusetts. She was a slave for most of her life but was given freedom by her master. Educated in Latin, Greek, and English, Wheatley wrote a collection of poems which asserted that Africans, as children of God just like Europeans, deserved respect and freedom. [ citation needed ]

In 1777, Vermont drafted a state constitution that prohibited the institution of slavery. In 1780 Massachusetts a state judge declared slavery to be unconstitutional according to the state's new bill of rights, which declared "all men. free and equal." Slavery effectively ended in Massachusetts with this ruling in a freedom suit by Quock Walker. This led to an increase of enslaved men and women suing for their freedom in New England. Also in 1780 in Pennsylvania, the legislature enacted "a gradual emancipation law that directly connected the ideals of the Revolution with the rights of the African Americans to freedom." [19] In the South, the immediate legacy of the Revolution was increased manumission by slaveholders in the first two decades after the war. But, the invention of the cotton gin enabled widespread cultivation of short-staple cotton, and with the opening up of southwestern lands to cotton and sugar production, demand for slaves increased. Legislatures made emancipation difficult to gain, and they passed harsher laws regulating African-American lives. [20]

As historian Deborah Gray White explains, "Black in a white society, slave in a free society, woman in a society ruled by men, female slaves had the least formal power and were perhaps the most vulnerable group of Americans." [1] : 15

The mother-daughter relationship was often the most enduring and as such cherished within the African-American complex of relations. [21] Relatively few women were runaways, and when they did run, they sometimes escaped with their children. Historian Martha Saxton writes about enslaved mothers' experiences in St. Louis in the antebellum period: "In Marion County, north of St. Louis, a slave trader bought three small children from an owner, but the children's mother killed them all and herself rather than let them be taken away. A St. Louis trader took a crying baby from its mother, both on their way to be sold, and made a gift of it to a white woman standing nearby because its noise was bothering him." [22] Another way these generational connections can be seen, is through song. Often songs about slavery and women's experiences during their enslavement were passed down through generations. [23] African-American Women Work Songs are historical snapshots of lived experience and survival. [24] Songs speak of families being torn apart and the emotional turmoil that enslaved women were put through by slavery. Songs add the legacy of oral tradition that fosters generational knowledge about historical periods. Little girls as young as seven were frequently sold away from their mothers:

"Mary Bell was hired out by the year to take care of three children starting when she was seven. John Mullanphy noted that he had living with him a four-year-old mulatto girl, whom he willed to the Sisters of Charity in the event of his death. George Morton sold his daughter Ellen 'a certain Mulatto girl a slave about fourteen years of age named Sally, being the child of a certain Negro woman named Ann'." [22] In 1854 Georgia was the first and only state to pass a law that put conditions of sales that separated mothers and their children. Children under five could not be sold away from their mothers, "unless such division cannot in any wise be [e]ffected without such separation.'" [22]

Slave girls in North America often worked within the domestic sphere, providing household help. White families sought the help of a "girl", an "all-purpose tool" in family life. [25] Although the word "girl" applied to any working female without children, slaves were preferred because in the long run they cost less. These enslaved girls were usually very young, anywhere from nine years of age to their mid-teens. Heavy household work was assigned to the "girl" and was therefore stigmatized as "negroes’" work. A "girl" was an essential source of help to white families, rural and urban, middle class and aspiring. She provided freedom for daughters to devote themselves to their self-development and relieved mothers from exhausting labor, while requiring no financial or emotional maintenance, "no empathy." [25]

In antebellum America, as in the past (from the initial African-European contact in North America), black women were deemed to be governed by their libidos and portrayed as "Jezebel character[s]. in every way the counterimage of the mid-nineteenth-century ideal of the Victorian lady." [26]

Enslaved women in every state of the antebellum union considered freedom, but it was a livelier hope in the North than in most of the South. Many slaves sought their freedom through self-purchase, the legal system of freedom suits, and as runaways, sometimes resulting in the separation of children and parents. "Unfinished childhoods and brutal separations punctuated the lives of most African American girls, and mothers dreamed of freedom that would not impose more losses on their daughters." [27]

Antebellum South Edit

After the Revolution, Southern plantation owners imported a massive number of new slaves from Africa and the Caribbean until the United States banned the import of slaves in 1808. More importantly, more than one million slaves were transported in a forced migration in the domestic slave trade, from the Upper South to the Deep South, most by slave traders—either overland where they were held for days in chained coffles, or by the coastwise trade and ships. The majority of slaves in the Deep South, men and women, worked on cotton plantations. Cotton was the leading cash crop during this time, but slaves also worked on rice, corn, sugarcane, and tobacco plantations, clearing new land, digging ditches, cutting and hauling wood, slaughtering livestock, and making repairs to buildings and tools. Black women also cared for their children and managed the bulk of the housework and domestic chores. Living with the dual burdens of racism and sexism, enslaved women in the South held roles within the family and community that contrasted sharply with more traditional or upper class American women's roles. [1] [ page needed ]

Young girls generally started working well before boys, with many working before age seven. [28] Although field work was traditionally considered to be "men's work," different estimates conclude that between 63-80 percent of women worked in the fields. [29] Adult female work depended greatly upon plantation size. On small farms, women and men performed similar tasks, while on larger plantations, males were given more physically demanding work. Few of the chores performed by enslaved women took them off the plantation. Therefore they were less mobile than enslaved men, who often assisted their masters in the transportation of crops, supplies, and other materials, and were often hired out as artisans and craftsmen. [1] : 76 Women also worked in the domestic sphere as servants, cooks, seamstresses, and nurses. Although a female slave's labor in the field superseded childrearing in importance, the responsibilities of childbearing and childcare greatly circumscribed the life of an enslaved woman. This also explains why female slaves were less likely to run away than men. [30]

Many female slaves were the object of severe sexual exploitation often bearing the children of their white masters, master's sons, or overseers. Slaves were prohibited from defending themselves against any type of abuse, including sexual, at the hands of white men. If a slave attempted to defend herself, she was often subjected to further beatings by the master or even by the mistress. [31] Black females, some of them children, were forced into sexual relationships for their white owners' pleasure and profit: attempting to keep the slave population growing by his own doing, and not by importing more slaves from Africa. Even Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States, is believed to have fathered six mixed-race children (four survived to adulthood) with one of his female slaves, Sally Hemings, a woman three-quarters white and half-sister to his late wife, who served as the widower's concubine for more than two decades. In the case of Harriet Ann Jacobs, author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, her master, Dr. James Norcom, had sexually harassed her for years. Even after she had two children of her own, he threatened to sell them if she denied his sexual advances. [32] Although Harriet Jacobs managed to escape to the North with her children, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 still put their livelihood at risk due to Dr. Norcom's family continuing to pursue her. [32]

Slavery was abolished in the United States in 1865 due to the ratification of the 13th Amendment. The decree offered enslaved men a path to freedom through military service. It wasn't until the Act of 1861 that enslaved women were allowed their freedom as they were no longer declared property of the Confederates in the south. [33] In 1868, the 14th Amendment extended citizenship rights to African Americans. "The Powers of Congress to Enforce the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments". University of Missouri - Kansas City, School of Law. April 27, 2013.


Antebellum

During the antebellum decades, as slavery’s apologists ratcheted up their claims that slaveholding was a constitutionally protected property right, abolitionists drew out the antislavery implications of the founding documents.

Through the eyes of a character with uncommon access and compassion, Sadeqa Johnson’s novel “The Yellow Wife” evokes a vision of one woman’s tenacious survival of antebellum cruelty and objectification.

Based on the memories of his dream, Bush says “Veronica is plucked from her beautiful life and thrust into the open-air haunted house of the antebellum South where she has to solve the mystery of what is happening to her before it is too late.”

I know Tom Woods is an intriguing writer, and I too love my liberty, but this is no longer the antebellum era.

It showed how the old guard is trying to guide the Treasury secretary and protect the status quo antebellum as much as possible.

That was in the antebellum days, before men realized they couldn't oppress their fellows with impunity.

Certainly Simms seems to have been the best imaginative writer the antebellum South produced.

As the antebellum period of the fifties came on these questions loomed larger in the public view.

Here the author shows that Astoria was included in the antebellum conditions of the Treaty of Ghent.

The antebellum state-bank regulations were intended to secure the safety of the bank note.


Dana Byrd

Her research engages with questions of place and the role of objects in everyday life. Her book manuscript, “Reconstructions: The Material Culture of the Plantation, 1861-1877,” examines the experience of the plantation during the Civil War through the end of Reconstruction.

Publications

“Ebony and Ivory: Pianos, People, Property and Freedom on the Plantation,” in The Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture, Ivan Gaskill and Sarah Carter, eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

“London: A Tobacco Box in Art Follows Empire: New Scholarship in Early American Art History ” Perspectives published by the Institut National de l'Histoire d'Art (INHA),�-2 (Fall 2015):1-10.

“Northern Vision, Southern Land: Designs for Freedom on Hilton Head Island, 1862-1880,” in The Civil War in Art and American Memory (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2015), 15-30.

Digital Projects

Punkah Project is a digital feature which complements Motive Power: Fans, Punkahs, and Fly Brushes in the Antebellum South, a Buildings and Landscapes article. This project makes available research not included in the article, and places all of the known fans in a geospatial context for further analysis.  

Fifty Years Later: The Portrayal of the Negro in American Art, celebrating the 1964 landmark paintings exhibition of African-American subjects at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. 

“Talking Turkey: Fowl, James McNeil Whistler, and the Venice Set,” in Fine Impressions: Whistler, Freer and Venice. Online contribution to Freer/Sackler exhibition October 2014).

Conferences and Invited Lectures

“Picturing the New South for Old New England via Intermediality,” Moving Pictures: Images Across Media in American Visual and Material Culture to 1900, American Antiquarian Society, Center for Historic American Visual Culture (CHAVIC), Worcester, Massachusetts, November 2015.

“Close Enough to Be Kept at Bay: Harriet Cany Peale’s Her Mistress’s Clothes,” American Art and Visual Culture Seminar, The Newberry Library, Dr. William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture, Chicago, Illinois, November 2015.

“Conditional Beauty: Harriet Cany Peale’s Her Mistress’s Clothes,” Beauty and Ethics, A Seminar, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, October 2015.

“P is for Piano: People, Property and Freedom on the Sea Island Plantation, 1861�,” Cambridge University, Center for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities June 2015.

“London: A Tobacco Box,”  “London and the Americas, 1492-1812” Society for Early Americanists, London, England, July 2014 (invited lecturer). 

“Parsing Place: The Material Culture of the Reconstructed Plantation,” Bard Graduate Center, New York City, May 2014 (invited lecturer).

“Northern Vision, Southern Land: Designs for Freedom on Hilton Head Island, 1862-1880,” From Shadow to Substance: The Massachusetts 54 th  Volunteer Infantry and the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Shaw Memorial, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, November 2013 (invited lecturer).

“In Motion: Art and Material Culture of the Civil War,” Bowdoin Alumni College Brunswick, Maine, August 2013.

“Occupied: The Civil War-Era Plantation, 1861-1877” Pejepscot Historical Society, Brunswick, Maine, July 2013. 

 “The Space Between: Seeing the Civil War Plantation,” Midwestern Art History Association, Columbus, Ohio, March 2013.

“Woodville’s Things: Objects and Meaning,” New Eyes on America: The Genius of Richard Caton Woodville, The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland, March 2013 (invited lecturer).

“Photographing the New South for Old New England: Henry P. Moore's Views of the Sea Islands,” Early Photography in New England: From Heliography to the Handheld Kodak, 1830-1900, Deerfield-Wellesley Symposium, Massachusetts, March 2013.

“Reconstructions: The Material Culture of the Plantation,” David B. Warren Symposium, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 2011 (invited lecturer).

“ ‘Just the Man We Want’: Henry P. Moore, Photographer on the South Carolina Sea Islands,” Southern Nation Conference, Department of American Studies, Princeton University, April 2010.

“Picturing Emancipation, Henry P. Moore, Photographer,” After Slavery, Race, Labor and Citizenship in the Post-Emancipation South Conference, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, March 2010.

“ ‘Motive Power’: Punkahs and Performance in the Antebellum South,” Historic New Orleans Antiques Forum, Historic New Orleans collection, New Orleans, LA, August 2009 (invited lecturer).

“Punkahs in the Antebellum South,” Gordon Conference, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winston-Salem, NC, October 2008.

“ ‘Winnower of Souls’: The Punkah and the Creation of Comfort in British India,” Center for Material Culture Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, February 2008.

“Crafting Freedom, John Needles, Antebellum Cabinetmaker” National McNair Scholars Research Conference, Newark, Delaware, October 2005 (invited lecturer).

“Way Finding: Work, Space and Evangelism at a Truck Stop Chapel,” Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars, Winterthur, Delaware, April 2005.

“Furnishing for Faith: Truck Stop Chapels,” Popular Culture/American Culture Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 2005.

Honors and Fellowships

Southeast Society for Architectural History (SESAH) Award for Best Journal Article, 2016

Mellon Digital Research and Publication Initiative (Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide), 2014-15

Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies Workshop, 2014

Bowdoin College Professional Development Grant (Research), 2012-15

Wyeth Fellowship in American Art, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), National Gallery of Art, 2010-12

Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, 2010

Institute for Southern Studies Research Fellowship University of South Carolina, 2010

James Renwick Fellowship in American Craft, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2010

John Enders Summer Research Grant, 2009

Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery at Yale, Research Grant, 2008


What's In A Name? The History Of Karens, Beckys And Miss Anns

Before 2020, the Karen was known by other names. NPR's Code Switch looks at the evolution of the entitled white woman, how her name has changed, but her behavior – and its consequences – not so much.

There was already a lot embedded in the name Karen. But it really caught on after this incident in New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AMY COOPER: There is an African American man. I am in Central Park. He is recording me and threatening myself and my dog.

MARTIN: That was Amy Cooper, whose false charge eventually ended up getting her charged in New York last month. The Internet then dubbed her the Central Park Karen. So what's in a name, and that name in particular? We asked another Karen, Karen Grigsby Bates, from our Code Switch team to explain.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, BYLINE: Karen has become shorthand for a certain kind of woman. She's usually white, entitled and very sure that what she's doing is right. On screen, Reese Witherspoon often plays her, as she did here in "Little Fires Everywhere."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE")

REESE WITHERSPOON: (As Elena) So rent is 300 a month. That is well below market. And it's really not about the money for us. I've lived in Shaker all my life. My parents left this rental to me. The point is to rent to someone who can enjoy it.

BATES: Karen Attiah the global opinions editor at The Washington Post. And at first, this explosion of Karens amused her. Now? Not so much.

KAREN ATTIAH: Usually when the name Karen is trending, I'm bracing myself, to be honest with you.

BATES: Because they're usually not nice depictions. Attiah has heard all the objections, that calling women Karen is classist, misogynistic, maybe even racist. But she says, nope.

ATTIAH: Someone isn't calling someone a Karen because, you know, they were born white. That's not the issue. It is a name for a behavior. It is a name for a choice.

BATES: These Karens, Attiah says, make the choice to police people of color, especially Black people - everything from their legitimate right for their bodies to be in public spaces to their bodies period. And before there was all this focus on Karen, there was Becky. Remember this?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY GOT BACK")

AMYLIA RIVAS: (As character) Oh, my god. Becky, look at her butt. It is so big. She looks like one of those rap guys' girlfriends.

BATES: For the hip-hop impaired, those are the opening lines of Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back," the '90s hit that immortalized Becky and made her popular shorthand for a certain kind of culturally oblivious white girl. But before there was Karen or Becky, there was Miss Ann who might go back as far as the antebellum South and who for sure was around in the Jim Crow era.

MEREDITH CLARK: My name's Meredith Clark. I'm an assistant professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia.

BATES: Meredith Clark says Miss Ann is an intra-group reference that's lasted for generations.

CLARK: I remember my mother, whose mother was a domestic, talking about Miss Ann and Mr. Charlie - so a white man and a white woman - and using those to refer to these people without directly referring to them, kind of engaging in that signifying process that we think about when Black folks are talking about one thing but saying another.

BATES: But whether she's wearing hoop skirts or athleisure wear, Clark says, there's been a certain consistency from Miss Ann to Becky, to Karen.

CLARK: The thing that makes Miss Ann Miss Ann is that she recognizes her privilege and she uses it almost as a cudgel or weapon to keep certain folks in their place, to keep Black people in particular in their, quote-unquote, "place."

BATES: As in this 2018 viral video from San Francisco.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ERIN AUSTIN: She calling the police on an 8-year-old little girl. You can hide all you want. The whole world going to see you, boo.

ALISON ETTEL: Yeah. And illegally selling water without a permit? Yeah.

ETTEL: It's not your property.

BATES: The Washington Post's Karen Attiah says this willingness to call the police to resolve disputes to her satisfaction makes Karen not only a pain, but dangerous.

ATTIAH: Again, to me, Karen is no longer the sort of annoying person who, like, wants to see your manager. She's the one who's willing to mobilize violence against you because she can.

BATES: Which is why in San Francisco, a member of the board of supervisors introduced the CAREN Act. It's an acronym for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies. And it would fine people who intentionally make racially biased 911 calls. Meanwhile, a lot of well-behaved Karens are hoping their name's 15 minutes is up soon. They're hoping Karen is replaced by someone else's name, anybody else's name - please.

Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News.

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A Stitch in Time The Needlework of Aging Women in Antebellum America

“A welcome contribution to available literature on American nineteenth-century needlework…Her careful review of existing anthropological, historical and needlework literature coupled with a thoughtful analyses of the existing quilts and samplers that formed the core of her study has shown that women’s needlework can help us to better understand the lives and times of the women who made them.”

Textile History

“I highly recommend this newly published look at a previously neglected aspect of sampler and stitching history… well-researched, with many full page color images of the stitched pieces and the women who created them.”

Swan Sampler Guild Gazette

“The book looks at a field of study that many would think has been well covered from a completely new angle, focusing on older makers rather than styles, fashion, or the education of girls.… [It] brings together anthropological, sociological, and psychological work with decorative arts and straight history.”

Diane L. Fagan Affleck, author of Just New from the Mills: Printed Cottons in America, Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

“This outstanding book is a major contribution to material-culture scholarship. The in-depth analysis of samplers, quilts, and textile arts created by aging women in antebellum America reveals how they used needlework as a key tool to visually express their deep feelings and values. Each chapter explores a theme and is full of personal details, beautiful illustrations, and rich evidence that supports the author’s findings. I believe today’s readers will find meaningful connections across time and space.”

Virginia Gunn, past editor of Uncoverings, the Research Papers of the American Quilt Study Group

Drawing from 167 examples of decorative needlework—primarily samplers and quilts from 114 collections across the United States—made by individual women aged forty years and over between 1820 and 1860, this exquisitely illustrated book explores how women experienced social and cultural change in antebellum America.

The book is filled with individual examples, stories, and over eighty fine color photographs that illuminate the role that samplers and needlework played in the culture of the time. For example, in October 1852, Amy Fiske (1785–1859) of Sturbridge, Massachusetts, stitched a sampler. But she was not a schoolgirl making a sampler to learn her letters. Instead, as she explained, “The above is what I have taken from my sampler that I wrought when I was nine years old. It was w[rough]t on fine cloth [and] it tattered to pieces. My age at this time is 66 years.”

Situated at the intersection of women’s history, material culture study, and the history of aging, this book brings together objects, diaries, letters, portraits, and prescriptive literature to consider how middle-class American women experienced the aging process. Chapters explore the physical and mental effects of “old age” on antebellum women and their needlework, technological developments related to needlework during the antebellum period and the tensions that arose from the increased mechanization of textile production, and how gift needlework functioned among friends and family members. Far from being solely decorative ornaments or functional household textiles, these samplers and quilts served their own ends. They offered aging women a means of coping, of sharing and of expressing themselves. These “threads of time” provide a valuable and revealing source for the lives of mature antebellum women.

Publication of this book was made possible in part through generous funding from the Coby Foundation, Ltd and from the Quilters Guild of Dallas, Helena Hibbs Endowment Fund.

Aimee E. Newell is director of collections at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington, Massachusetts. &thinsp More info&ensp&rarr


Watch the video: Ιστορία της τέχνης (September 2022).

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