THE LIGHT OF DISTANT SKIES by James Flexner

THE LIGHT OF DISTANT SKIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Flexner's view of American Painting from 1760 to 1835 adds to the material in former volumes, one a biography John Singleton Copley (1948) and one on the earlier influences in American art First Flowers of Our Wilderness written in 1947 for the Houghton Mifflin ""Life in America"" series. Fluent organization and a well developed appreciation here puts the painters and their works in a continuum that binds the inter-related trends and influences with care. West, Peale, Copley, Trumbull, Allston, Vanderlyn, Morse and Stuart are the figureheads and as their lives and works unfold, the culture pattern of a young country emerges as well. The ""Torch of History"" was the tie with British painting and the colonial aristocratic stereotypes with which Copley and others sought to break in Boston. With Trumbull, historical painting took on a more national meaning; with Allston came the first touches of romanticism and the vague exotic scenery that was more admired than imitated. For years there was a bustling trade in portraiture and gradually the academies developed and strengthened abandoning the ""grand style"" though never to the complete riddance of affectation-still a deterrent today. Broad and critical, this treats folk art and the ""craftsmanship"" of Hicks and Audubon too, and comes off as an important study of the period.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1954
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace