Painting The Southland

Most surveys of American painting begin in New England in the eighteenth century, move westward to the Rockies in the nineteenth, and return to New York in the twentieth. Now we’ll have to redraw the map .

TAKING STOCK of painting in the South in 1859, a critic for the New Orleans Daily Cresent concluded glumly, “Artist roam the country of the North, turning out pictures by the hundred yearly, but none come to glean the treasures with which grand and beautiful country of the South and its peculiar life abound.” The reason many artists stayed away was that throughout the eighteenth century and well into the nineteenth, the region’s poor roads, widely scattered population, and almost entirely agricultural economy Read more »

A Painter Of Floating Property

Antonio Jacobsen, the most prolific of all American marine artists

“Ship portraiture” is a unique form of painting, modest in purpose but exacting in execution, long scorned by serious artists yet calling for particular knowledge and skills often beyond the ken of the fine artist. The specialty developed during a period when ships were growing mightily in size, complexity, speed, beauty, and grace. When the American sculptor Horatio Greenough first saw a clipper ship under full sail, he exclaimed, “There is something I would not be ashamed to show Phidias.” Read more »

The Inland Printer

was the first magazine in America to change its cover for every issue. And these covers may still be the best graphic art magazine has ever produced.


One of the most influential magazines in America before the turn of the century was The Inland Printer , one hundred years old this year and now known as The American Printer and Lithographer . Although primarily a journal for the trade, The Inland Printer displayed a powerful artistic imagination as it reported the printing industry’s coming of age.Read more »

Artists In Their Studios

As painting became a respectable profession in America, artists began to celebrate their workplaces

IN THE BEGINNING America had little use for the fine arts. Nomadic painters roamed the land and provided signs, decoration, and the occasional likeness of a sitter. But it wasn’t long before they contrived to establish more stable working places. In Boston, before the Revolution, John Smibert sustained a studio by selling art supplies and exhibiting copies of old master paintings and plaster casts of ancient sculptures.Read more »

“If I Had Another Face, Do You Think I'd Wear This One?”

…so Lincoln joked. Actually he was eager to pose for portraits.



ABRAHAM LINCOLN was a paradoxical figure to the many artists who portrayed him. He felt ignorant about art, admitted to having an “unpracticed eye,” and he was given to publicly mocking his appearance. Once accused during a debate with Stephen Douglas of being two-faced, Lincoln is said to have replied, “If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?” Read more »

Paintings From a Picture Palace

George Eastman didn’t think the posters the movie companies supplied were good enough for his theater. So he commissioned a local artist to paint better ones.

IN 1922 GEORGE EASTMAN, the great photographic industrialist, built an elaborate movie house in his hometown of Rochester, New York. Eastman paid close attention to its every detail, from the massive, imported chandeliers to the seating capacity of the second balcony. Since the mass-produced studio artwork of the time didn’t meet Eastman’s standards, he commissioned a young local artist named Batiste Madalena to herald his picture shows. Read more »

Krazy Kat A Love Story

There’s a corner of every Americans heart that is reserved for a cartoon cat. Its name might be Garfield, Sylvester, Fritz, or Felix. But there will never be another Krazy.

In 1938, at the age of nine, I discovered one of life’s cruelest ironies: the best comic strips invariably appear in the worst newspapers. Since Hearst’s Evening Journal-American was, according to my mother, the worst “fascist rag” in New York, it was inevitable that Popeye, Maggie and Jiggs, and Krazy Kat would be locked up in its pages. With the Journal banned at home, my glimpses of Krazy were destined to be fleeting.Read more »

Catawba Chronicle

A contemporary artist re-creates two and a half centuries of the life of a North Carolina county

Last March a letter arrived at AMERICAN HERITAGE from Barry G. Huffman of Hickory, North Carolina, a subscriber who had some kind words to say about the most recent issue of the magazine. But more important, she wanted to share with us a set of paintings she had been working on for the last four years.Read more »

John Sloan’s New Mexico

The famous painter of Eastern city life also captured the sunny, spacious world of the Southwest

When John Sloan—one of eight Eastern painters known as the Ashcan school—first came to Santa Fe in 1919, he was looking for new subjects to paint. He found a remote mountain town of about seven thousand citizens, two-thirds of whom were Spanish-speaking. Among the “Anglos” (persons neither Spanish nor Indian) was a sizable group of artists. To respect creative work is tradition in both Indian and Spanish society, and Sloan was delighted to find himself politely left alone. Above all, he was enchanted by the look of the place.Read more »

Happy Ending

Though he invariably has his way with the small-town girls in a thousand indestructible smutty stories, the actual life the traveling salesman led was not nearly so gleeful. Commercial travelers—there were almost a hundred thousand of them by the turn of the century—rode day coaches from tank town to tank town, lived in railroad hotels, and ate bad food. But perhaps the drummer has gained so ubiquitous a role in jokes because he told so many of them. He had to.Read more »