The Lion’s-eye View

A British Officer Portrays Colonial America

We owe a considerable debt to the British army for our visual perception of the eighteenth-century American scene. Among the officers London posted to North America were a number skilled with sketch pad and paintbrush who spent off-duty hours recording the landscape around them and the campaigns in which they fought. None of these soldier-artists was more observant than Thomas Davies, Royal Artillery. Read more »

The Red Hot Republican

A good party is better than the best man that ever lived.” So said “Czar’ Thomas B. Reed, the formidable late-nineteenth-century Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was talking about his own Republican party, of course, and “Elephant Joe” Josephs, the gloriously partisan artist whose proud self-portraits appear here, would have agreed enthusiastically. For no more impassioned Republican ever drew breath than this one-man GOP whirlwind from Buffalo, New York.Read more »

Astley David Montague Cooper And The Matter Of Mrs. Stanford’s Jewels

When she looked back on the dark episode later, Mrs. Leland Stanford, of the California railroad empire Stanfords, San Francisco and Palo Alto, must have regretted many times the day she let That Man into her house. Read more »

Mole’s Other Masterpieces

The question of how many angels can dance on the point of a pin stimulated debate among medieval scholars. Absurd, we say. But before we chortle, we might recall that a latter-day photographer once spent his time figuring how many men would be required to form a giant profile of Uncle Sam or a really big Liberty Bell. Read more »

A 1783 Monument To American Independence Makes Sense-but In Yorkshire, England?

It is normally the winners, not the losers, who erect triumphal irches at a war’s end. Yet at Parlington Park in West Yorkshire, some two hundred miles north of London, stands this monument, boldly dedicated to Liberty in North America Triumphant, MDCCLXXXIII . Built in 1783, the year America officially wrested her independence from England, it is the little-known creation of Sir Thomas Gascoigne, the eighth Baronet of Parlington and an aristocrat with distinctly individual views. Read more »

Who Was This Man-and Why Did He Paint Such Terrible Things About Us?

The man was Diego Rivera, seen from the rear on his scaffold in an uncharacteristically modest self-portrait at left, and what he was doing in America was expressing his gargantuan contempt for capitalism and its precepts.Read more »

The Gossipy Art Of Louis Larsen

When the Norwegian artist Lauritz Larsen Mossige emigrated to America in the early 1880’s, he settled in Deckertown—now Sussex—New Jersey, and changed his name to Louis Larsen. The Americanization process did not stop there, and Larsen seems to have made himself a scholar of all the small-town scandals that enlivened life in Deckertown. Unlike virtually all other such primitive paintings, the two on these pages have come down to us rich with gossip about the people in them.Read more »

The Sweet Grass Lives On

A decade ago a serious recognition of American Indian painters was rare indeed, for the simple reason that few art critics considered that there was anything about Indian painting worth knowing. Read more »


Eleventh in a series of paintings for AMERICAN HERITAGE

When in June of 1778 Sir Henry Clinton evacuated Philadelphia and moved his army of ten thousand British and German troops toward New York, Washington called his officers together to discuss strategy. Their decision—which, said Alexander Hamilton, “would have done honor to the most honorable society of midwives, and to them only”—was to keep watch on Clinton’s flank but to avoid a major action. Read more »

A Bicentennial Sampler


In an imposing observance of the nation’s Bicentennial the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City has devoted its entire building to a huge, exciting exhibition celebrating “200 Years of American Sculpture.” The show opened in March of this year and will run until mid-September. Altogether, more than two hundred sculptors are represented. Read more »