Skip to main content

American artists

American colonial elites surrounded themselves with paintings, furniture, and other objects to shape their identities, and set themselves apart from other elements of society

The great American Realist painter Thomas Hart Benton reflects on his life, his work, his colleagues, and much more.

Thomas Hart Benton, one of the nation’s premier muralists, was born in Neosho, Missouri, on April 15, 1889, and was named for his famous great-uncle, who became a political legend during three decades of service as that state’s first U.S. senator.

Edward Moran’s series of Victorian seascapes recall a vanished national mood—when the eagle screamed, when painters were sentimental and poets misty about the eyes.

The canvases of John Trumbull, sometime soldier, reluctant artist, have given us our visual image of the colonies’ struggle to be free

At the end of October, 1797, the year V of the French Revolution, a 41-year-old American artist named John Trumbull was stranded in Paris. The government was in peril and the capital was near chaos.

In five dramatic allegorical paintings, Thomas Cole echoed the fear of Americans, over a century ago, that all civilizations, our own included, must someday perish.

Shortly before his death James Fenimore Cooper left off scolding his countrymen long enough to heap praises on the memory of his late friend Thomas Cole.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.