Art & Culture

A journey through a wide and spellbinding land, and a look at the civilization along its edges.

The synthetic colors of the motel in Albuquerque, all orange, purple, and blatant red, shouting the triumph of American civilization over the surrounding harshness, quickly fade from mind as we head out for Santa Fe. Read more >>

A pictorial history of the state from discovery to the Revolution

A postcard version of six tender and crucial rites of passage by the artist Harrison Fisher

This series of six postcards, titled “The Greatest Moments in a Girl’s Life,” was painted by Harrison Fisher around 1911. From about 1905 until his death in 1934, Fisher was by far the most popular illustrator of pretty women, the successor to Charles Dana Gibson. Read more >>

It took half a century for his critics to see his subjects as clearly as he did; but today he stands as America’s preeminent portraitist

John Singer Sargent, in common with Holbein and Van Dyck, was an international painter of portraits who did his major work in England. Read more >>

Beatrix Farrand’s exactingly beautiful designs changed the American landscape

When Beatrix Farrand arrived to work on a garden, clients knew they were in the presence of someone extraordinary. Read more >>

William Auerbach-Levy’s genius as a caricaturist lay in what he chose to leave out.

Great portraits are frequently caricatures. Think of van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Egon Schiele, Picasso, Max Beckmann, or Alice Neel. On the other hand, caricature is not portraiture. Well, not often. One exception, in my opinion, is William Auerbach-Levy. Read more >>

On sojourns away from the studio where he labored in oils, Homer took along his watercolors and produced his freshest and most expressive work

This is not a test. It’s the real thing.

How precise is the educated American’s understanding of the history of our country? I don’t mean exact knowledge of minor dates, or small details about the terms of laws, or questions like “Who was secretary of war in 1851?” ( Answer: Charles M. Read more >>
Among the nicer aspects of working at American Heritage is that the editors are paid to look at paintings. We review exhibitions, auction catalogs, museum brochures, and art magazines in hopes of finding historical illustrations for our stories. Read more >>

John White Alexander began his career as an office boy at Harper’s Weekly and rose to be a leading painter of his generation, especially of its women

In the early 1900s John White Alexander was considered one of the four preeminent American painters of his day, the peer of Whistler, Sargent, and E. A. Abbey. Read more >>

Much has changed in Utah since World War II, but outside of the metropolitan center in the Salt Lake Valley, the addiction to rural simplicity and the idea of home is still strong.

His works ranged from intimate cameos to heroic public monuments. America has produced no greater sculptor.

For the “mysterious aura” of his art, a critic has compared him to Thomas Eakins. In the “haunting grandeur” of his sculpture, he is the equal of Auguste Rodin. Read more >>

While a whole generation of artists sought inspiration in the wilderness, George Inness was painting the fields and farms of a man-made countryside

Two years younger than Jasper Cropsey and Sanford Gifford and one year older than Frederic Church, George Inness was the contemporary of a group of American landscape painters closely joined by shared styles and ideals in the tradition of Thomas Cole. Read more >>

A young artist takes on a venerable genre

Few aesthetic disciplines are as exacting as marine art. Consider the problems. The painter of portraits or landscapes can return to the subject again and again to verify shape, color, tone. But water is a moving, constantly changing element. Read more >>

Israel Sack made a fortune by seeing early the craft in fine old American furniture

To a casual passerby on East Fifty-seventh Street in Midtown Manhattan, No. 15 looks like any other small, wellkept building. On the main floor is an antique-silver shop. Read more >>

He was the most naturally gifted of The Eight, and his vigorous, uninhibited vision of city life transformed American painting at the turn of the century. In fact, he may have been too gifted.

Never at an art exhibition in this city has there been such an attendance,” the young painter Guy Pène du Bois reported in the New York American for February 4, 1908, adding that “only with the greatest difficulty, by stretchin Read more >>

During the 1920s the city spurred local rail traffic with an unparalleled run of superb and stylish posters

Surprisingly little is known about the posters shown on these pages. Springing up practically overnight in the mid-1920s, they bloomed for a short while, four or five years at most, and then their season, was over. Read more >>

Peter Marié, a bon vivant of the Gilded Age, asked hundreds of Society’s prettiest women to allow themselves to be painted for him alone

FOR A DEBUTANTE in turn-of-the-ceiitury New York, the highest mark of approval was having Peter Marié request a miniature portrait. Read more >>

Here is how political cartoonists have sized up the candidates over a tumultuous half-century.

AMERICANS HAVE BEEN turning out political cartoons since the dawn of the Republic, but in the nineteenth century the drawings tended to be verbose and cluttered, their characters trailing long ribbons of speech balloons as they stumbled ov Read more >>

After standing in New York Harbor for nearly one hundred years, this thin-skinned but sturdy lady needs a lot of attention. She’s getting it- from a crack team of French and American architects and engineers.

AT A TABLE IN a cozy Chinese restaurant on the Left Bank of Paris, half a dozen men argue loudly about the Statue of Liberty. Read more >>

From the North Woods to New Orleans with an artist-reporter of the last century

IN THE ERA BEFORE PHOTOGRAPHS could be reproduced in the press, newspapers and magazines sent “special artists”—the photojournalists of their time—out on assignment. Their on-the-spot drawings were then made into engravings. Read more >>

Turn-of-the-century American painters came to Venice for its ancient splendors and pearly light. In a few years they captured its canals, palaces, and people in a spirit of gentle modernism that looks better than ever.

FOR MUCH OF THE history of the United States, American artists have looked across the Atlantic: for better schooling than they could find at home, for a culture in which art was valued more highly than it was in Puritan America, and often Read more >>

At one time or another, practically every American artist has brought forth a blossom.

WHETHER FLOWERS ARE a worthy subject for the painter—a question hat seems almost medieval in its distance from current art theory—was once the concern of the most eminent artists and critics. Read more >>

The largest Gothic cathedral in the Western Hemisphere has the strangest stained-glass windows in the world

TO A CASUAL OBSERVER , the first window on the north face of New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine looks as traditional and reverent as stainedglass windows the world over. Read more >>

The richly embellished account book of an eighteenth-century sea captain, newly discovered in a Maine attic

IN JUNE OF 1976 THE MAINE MARITIME Museum in Bath received a letter addressed simply to “The Curator.” It was from two local women named Carrie Groves and Gladys Castner and described some nautical material including a “large color drawing Read more >>

California has always been as much a state of mind as a geographical entity. For the better part of two centuries, artists have been defining its splendid promise.

BEFORE THE DISCOVERY of gold at Sutler’s mill in 1848, the population of California was too small and too scattered to produce much painting. Read more >>

He was more than just a cartoonist. He was the Hogarth of the American middle class.

IF YOU WANT a quick fix on what upper-middle-class Americans were doing between the two World Wars, look at the cartoons of Gluyas Williams. It will take less time than reading Dodsworth or the works of J. P. Read more >>

For almost four decades, Marshall Davidson, who pioneered a new genre of illustrated history, has worked with many thousands of pieces of American art. Out of them all he now selects fourteen images that have particularly enchanted him .

One of America’s least-known and most curious folk arts

Using the same bold colors that drew the rubes in to see the Giant Rat of Sumatra and the Three-Headed Calf, he painted a fanciful record of his world

T HE GREAT DEPRESSION was as hard on circuses as it was on every other enterprise, but during those years, R. G. Read more >>