Quaint Americans (2 Paintings At the Met)

(George Caleb Bingham, Fur Traders Descending the Missouri [1845])

(John Twachtman, Arques-la-Bataille [1885])


I like these pictures by painters about whom I now continue to know nothing except their names and these paintings. They are located in the American wing at the Met, somewhere between the gallery with ol’ George Washington crossing the Delaware and the overblown naturalism of Frederick Church, and the gallery housing the justly famous John Singer Sargent portraits of the Gilded Age rich and famous circa. What first caught my eye are the ethnographic elements in the painting by Bingham and the whiff of Impressionism and Japonisme in the Twachtman. There’s something quirky and lonely about the river-views carried along in these pictures.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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