American Art and National Identity

Mountain Landscape

Fig 5. Frederic Edwin Church, 1826-1900
Mountain Landscape, ca. 1849,
oil of canvas, 14-1/2 x 19-3/4 inches
Brauer Museum of Art, Percy H. Sloan Trust, 53.1.107

With the rise of American wealth and industrial productivity, fueled by the labor of immigrant workers and a vast landscape rich in natural resources, a new symbol of American identity emerged in the twentieth century: the city. The American frontier had been for generations a providential affirmation of American national destiny, and had been captured in the sublime style of landscape painting by Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt. In the Brauer's Mountain Landscape by Church (ca. 1849; fig. 5), for example, the incandescent clouds and the glowing face of the mountain suggest an act of revelation as the day passes into night, or as the dawn first arrives.

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