The American City

A gathering of turn-of-the-century paintings

Our cities began as muddy accidents. First settlers would set up shop on a promising spit of land; a steamer would tie up at a convenient bend in a river; two railroads would cross on an empty prairie; and soon there would be some warehouses, a saloon, a brothel, a jail, a church—a city. For the most part the cities grew up unplanned, a sort of cancerous response to the wealth being produced in and around them.Read more »

Artists Of The Santa Fe


The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway grew in a cloud of violence that quickly became legendary. Wherever the fledgling railroad went in the 1870’s, it left a raw and brawling cow town in its wake. At the Colorado ranges gunplay broke out between the work crews of the Santa Fe and the rival Denver & Rio Grande.Read more »

Mallet, Chisel, And Curls

Vinnie Ream sculptured Lincoln while she was still a teen-ager

President Lincoln had been dead more than three years in May of 1868, and the model of his statue still rested unfinished in young Vinnie Ream’s Capitol studio. Now its very completion was threatened by a band of bitter congressmen who had failed to eject Mr. Lincoln’s successor from the White House and, in their frustration, would try to turn Vinnie’s ambition to ashes as well. Read more »

Frederic Remington’s Wild West

In the summer of 1885 a young artist from New York by way of Kansas City found himself resting by a campfire with a couple of prospectors out in Arizona Territory at a time when Geronimo was on the prowl, perhaps “even in our neighborhood.” It was about 9 o’clock in the evening, and the three men were drowsily relaxing, puffing on their pipes and looking up at the stars through the branches of the trees overhead.Read more »

Serene Visions Of A Time Gone By

The paintings of E. L. Henry:

As a child he sketched horses and wagons, buggies, boats, and scenes described in history lessons; during sermons in church he used the pages of prayer books and hymnals to draw the angels and the Giants in the Earth of the preacher’s text. So began the career of one of America’s most prolific genre painters—Edward Lamson Henry. Read more »

The Vanished Texas Of Theodore Gentilz

The dusty, busy town of San Antonio, Texas, must have seemed an immeasurable distance from home to the twentyfour-year-old Jean Louis Theodore Gentilz. Two months at sea and a grueling overland journey from Galveston separated the young man from his comfortable life as the son of a wealthy Parisian coachmaker. Now, late in 1843, he first looked upon the life he had traded for it. Many would have regretted the change, but something about the big, untidy new land got under Gentilz’ skin, and Texas would be his home for the rest of his life.Read more »

When Bridgeport Was Beautiful

For most Americans who pass that way today, Bridgeport, Connecticut, is a place to get through as soon as possible. Belching smokestacks, bumpy pavement, grimy houses, dingy stores, an apparently bombed-out railroad station—except for a few acres of “urban renewal” that’s the traveller’s impression; and one is puzzled by the motto still cherished by Bridgeport’s denizens: The Park City. But the prideful epithet must once have been deserved, bespeaking a pleasant suburban community on Long Island Sound, with lush green trees, elegant homes, delightful vistas.Read more »

As They Saw Themselves

The man who paints his own likeness in a sense turns inside out the famous line of Robert Burns. He is given the gift to show others how he sees himself. This is a revelation of no small interest or importance. We see the man as he idealizes, romanticizes, or possibly disguises himself. And we see him in the mirror of his times. Every artist is to some extent a prisoner of the fashion, the aesthetics, and the painting idiom of his age.Read more »

A Last Glimpse Of The Steamboats

A Portfolio of Paintings

Americans have always loved steam. We cannot claim the steam engine as our invention, but we did adopt it at once and brought it to the peak of its development. The device took on peculiarly American forms in this country; compare, for instance, the tidy British locomotives with their rangy American counterparts. So too with our steamboats. While they lacked the sharp beauty of the clippers, they made up for it with their powerful, chunky, intricate American grace.Read more »