Multicultural America
Fall 2004


English Composition



Image of Eunice Pinney’s 1815 ‘The Cotters Saturday Night’. This pen and watercolor painting depicts people sitting around a table. With book open and the room illuminated by candle light, the others listen as the eldest male reads from a book. 

Eunice Pinney, The Cotters Saturday Night, c. 1815

pen and watercolor: 30.7 x 37.8 cm (12 1/8 x 14 5/8 in.)
The National Gallery of Art



Multimedia Assignment 2 – American History through Art


For your second multimedia project, you will be asked to present, examine, and interpret a work of American art.  With a few exceptions, all of the works were produced before the Civil War. 


As you have seen, the dominant narrative of our country finds itself repeated in history, literature, and art.  As you look at these images, think about how they represent “America,” its heroes, its ordinary citizens, and those whose existence the narrative must somehow define or erase, African American slaves and Native Americans.


As always, think about what kinds of questions you could ask of these images.  What is the “story” that these artists are telling American about itself? How did we feel about our young democracy?  How do some of these images justify or simplify subjects that we now understand as deeply troubling and complex?  How does the sense of “mission” that began with the Puritans replay itself in westward expansion? How did America want to think about “the land” in the early 19th century?  All of the landscape painters on our list were very popular. Why do you think that Thomas Cole’s sweeping allegories on The Course of Empire and the Voyage of Life resonated with 19th century America? What aspects of everyday life did the artists want to portray?  How are women presented?  Did you notice that all of the artists on our list are male?  How does an artist like George Catlin resist the erasure or stereotyping of Native Americans that you see in other artists?  Do you think the artists are reproducing the myth of America or creating it? 


For your second project consider the following:

               Your page should include: 

Description – Most of you have never written about a work of art, but all of you can describe what you see. We’ll be talking about this more in class.


Historical Information – Your reader would appreciate some historical context about the subject matter of the work, the artist, or any important events that may have influenced the work.  You must decide what your viewer would find most interesting.


Interpretation – You can give your reader your own interpretation of the work.  What do you think the artist wants the viewer to see?  Does the artist have a particular point of view toward the subject matter?  Is the artist making an argument?  Do you think that you respond differently to the work as a 21st century American than the original audience would have responded?  You are free here to make any interpretation or associations that you feel are important.  There is not a formulaic answer here.  We have so many different examples of art to consider.


Acknowledgement of Sources – Again, carefully cite all of your sources for your image and historical content with in-text parenthetical citations. Conclude your page with a Works Cited section which lists your sources alphabetically.

                    Citing Electronic Sources in Your Web Pages






Project due - October 30



Reproduction of The Cotters Saturday Night:


Pinney, Eunice. (1770-1849). The Cotters Saturday Night.  1815.  Online image.  2004.  The National Gallery of Art.  Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch.  22 September 2004.   <>




American History through Art


American Democracy 

  1. George Caleb Bingham, Canvassing for a Vote (1852)

  2. George Caleb Bingham, Stump Speaking (1854)

  3. George Caleb Bingham, County Election (1851)

  4. George Caleb Bingham, Country Politician (1849)

  5. John Lewis Krimmel, Election Scene, State House in Philadelphia (1815)


American Genre Paintings 

  1. William Sydney Mount, Cider Making (1841)

  2. William Sydney Mount, Dance of the Haymakers (1845)

  3. William Sydney Mount, Farmers Nooning (1836)

  4. George Caleb Bingham, Fur Traders Descending the Missouri (1845)

  5. George Caleb Bingham, Raftsmen Playing Cards (1847)

  6. George Caleb Bingham, The Jolly Flat Boatmen in Port (1857)

  7. Richard Caton Woodville, War News from Mexico (1848)

  8. Winslow Homer, Croquet Scene (1862)


Captivity Paintings 

  1.  John Vanderlyn, The Death of Jane McCrea (1804)

  2.  Currier and Ives, The Death of Jane McCrea (1846)

  3.  John Mix Stanley, Osage Scalp Dance (1845)

  4.  Charles Deas, The Death Struggle (1845)

  5.  Carl Wimar, The Abduction of Daniel Boone's Daughter (1853)


George Washington and the Revolutionary War 

  1. John Trumbull, The Declaration of Independence (1816)

  2. John Trumbull, The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, 17 June, 1775 (after 1815–before 1831)         

  3. John Trumbull, Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown (1820)

  4. John Trumbull, George Washington before the Battle of Trenton (1792)

  5. Charles Wilson Peale, George Washington at the Battle of Princeton (1779)

  6. Gilbert Stuart, George Washington (The Lansdowne Portrait) (1796)

  7. Emanuel Leutze, Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851)

  8. John Barralet, The Apotheosis of Washington (1802)

  9. Jean-Antoine Houdon, George Washington (1785- 1791) (sculpture)



  1. Thomas Cole, The Hunter's Return (1845)

  2. Thomas Cole, View on the Catskill, Early Autumn (1837)

  3. Thomas Cole, Last of the Mohicans: Cora Kneeling at the Feet of Tamenund (1827)

  4. Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: The Savage State (1834)

  5. Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: The Pastoral State - Arcadia (1834)

  6. Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: The Consummation of Empire (1834)

  7. Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Destruction (1834)

  8. Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Desolation (1834)

  9. Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life:  Childhood (1842)

  10. Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life:  Youth (1842)

  11. Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life:  Manhood (1842)

  12. Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life:  Old Age (1842)

  13. George Martin Brown, View of Central Park (1862)

  14. George Martin Brown, Leatherstocking Kills the Panther (1862)

  15. Martin Johnson Heade, Thunderstorm Over Naragansett Bay (1868)

  16. John Frederick Kensett, Mountain Landscape (mid 1850s)

  17. John Frederick Kensett, The Langdale Pike (1858)

  18. Fitz Hugh Lane, Boston Harbor (1856)

  19. Asher Durand, Kindred Spirits (1849)

  20. Asher Durand, The Symbol (1856)

  21. Asher Durand, Early Morning at Cold Spring (1850)

  22. Robert S. Duncanson, Blue Hole, Little Miami River (1851)


Native Americans 

  1. Benjamin West, The Death of General Wolfe (1770)

  2. Benjamin West, Penn's Treaty with the Indians (1771)

  3. Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom (1834 ) (You may find several versions of this.  Be sure to have the plate with Penn and the Indians in the background)

  4. Tompkins Matteson, Last of the Race (1847)

  5. John Mix Stanley, Last of Their Race (1857)

  6. George Catlin, Pigeon's Egg Head (The Light) Going to and Returning From Washington (1839)

  7. George Catlin, An Iowa Medicine Man (1845)

  8. George Catlin, Prairie Meadows Burning (1832)

  9. George Catlin, Comanche Feats of Horsemanship (1834-35)

  10. George Catlin, Buffalo Hunt under the Wolf Skin Mask (1832-33)

  11. Thomas Crawford, Dying Indian Chief Contemplating the Progress of Civilization (1856) (sculpture)

  12. Alfred Jacob Miller, The Trapper's Bride (1845)


Slavery and African Americans 

  1. John Lewis Krimmel, Quilting Frolic (1813)

  2. William Sidney Mount, The Banjo Player (1830)

  3. William Sidney Mount, The Bone Player (1856)

  4. William Sidney Mount, The Power of Music (1847)

  5. Eastman Johnson, Negro Life at the South (or Old Kentucky Home) (1859)

  6. Eastman Johnson, A Ride for Liberty--the Fugitive Slaves (1862)


Pioneers and Manifest Destiny 

  1. Emanuel Leutze, Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way (Westward Ho!) (1861)

  2. John Gast, American Progress (1872)

  3. Albert Bierstadt, Emigrants Crossing the Plains (1867)

  4. George Inness, The Lackawanna Valley (1855)

  5. Thomas Nast, Frontispiece & Title Page of Beyond the Mississippi by Albert Richardson (1869)


Westward Expansion 

  1. Thomas Cole, Daniel Boone Sitting at the Door of his Cabin (1826)

  2. George Caleb Bingham, The Emigration of Daniel Boone (1852)

  3. Frederic Church, Hooker and Company Journeying through the Wilderness from Plymouth to Hartford in 1636 (1846)

  4. William Jewett, The Promised Land--the Grayson Family 1850 (1850)



  1. Samuel F. B. Morse, Susan Walker Morse (The Muse) (1836-1837)

  2. John Smibert, Mrs. Francis Brinley and her son Francis (1729)

  3. Ammi Phillips, Mrs. Mayer and Daughter (1835-1840)

  4. Ralph Earl, Elijah Boardman (1789)

  5. John Singleton Copley, Elizabeth Gray Otis (1764)

  6. John Singleton Copley, Colonel William Fitch and His Sisters Sarah and Ann Fitch (1800-1801)