From the French Revolution to the First World War, the long 19th century was an era of remarkable and unprecedented change that touched virtually every aspect of European and American life including politics, industry, technology, science, and the arts. Europe witnessed the fall of aristocracies and the rise of an influential middle class, while Americans survived a Civil War and expanded across the continent.
This installation, drawn from the Museum's American and European collections, only hints at the many changes that took place. The art reflects shifts in interest, from portraits of powerful individuals to modernist designs that completely break from the artistic traditions of Realism and recognizable perspective. In between are depictions of the American wilderness, genre scenes of everyday life, Biblical tales and history lessons, "exotic" images of the Middle East and the Western frontier, Impressionist landscapes and large-scale society portraits. Together, they demonstrate the great diversity of a complicated and fascinating period in world history.
Images: (left) Evening Shower. Sanford Robinson Gifford, 1862. Oil on canvas. Museum purchase, 1968.6. (right) Arabian Horsemen. Christian Adolf Schreyer, 1875-1885. Oil on canvas. Gift of Mr. Malcolm P. Ripley, 1962.16.