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 »

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 »

Interior America

In the thirties the WPA decided it would be good to know just what the insides of Victorian homes, offices, and stores had looked like. The artist-historian Perkins Harnly created a sumptuous record.

  Read more »

Angel In The Parlor: The Art Of Abbott Thayer

He loved women so much he painted wings on them. After years of neglect, he is now being appreciated.

VISITORS TO a performance by the Kneisel String Quartet in New York City one autumn afternoon in 1894 may well have been distracted from the sonorities of Beethoven by a strangely dressed man in the audience. In contrast to the stylish appearance of the rest of the music lovers, he wore a rumpled corduroy hunting suit, a battered felt hat, rubber boots, and a frayed handkerchief wound round his head and tied under his chin, as if to relieve a toothache.Read more »

Painters Of Plenty

An Autumn Harvest of American Still Lifes

The 1831 painting exhibition at the Boston Athenaeum was the cause of much rejoicing on the part of the critic for the prestigious North American Review , with a single salient exception: he had no use for still lifes.Read more »

Patchwork Primitives


The teasingly familiar scene above is not, as one would suppose, the work of an anonymous nineteenth-century folk artist. It is a painting done in 1951 by none other than the first lady of American folk art, Jean Lipman, who, for over thirty years as the editor of Art in America and author of countless articles and books on the subject, has done more to make folk art “a major chapter in the history of American art” than any other enthusiast of the genre. Read more »

Town & Country

The Smaller, Greener Baltimore of Francis Guy

Sometime in 1799 a luckless British-born artisan “boldly undertook,” in the words of the portraitist Rembrandt Peale, “to be an artist, although he did not know how to draw.” The result of this unprovoked commitment is a delightful series of portraits of the seedtime of a great city. Read more »

Tribute To A Feathered Tempest

The great swarm of birds on the preceding two pages (a detail of which appears below) was painted by Michigan artist Lewis Luman Cross in 1900. Even at that date, it had to be painted from memory, for by the turn of the century the million-membered flocks of passenger pigeons that once darkened the Midwestern skies had been driven to the edge of extinction by hunters. Fifteen years later they were extinct, the last pigeon dying in a Cincinnati zoo in 1914.Read more »