Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825–1861

September 19, 2000–January 7, 2001

Portraiture in Antebellum New York

During the 1820s and 1830s, before the influence of Cole's interpretations of the American landscape was felt, portraiture dominated American painting and sculpture. The exhibition's second gallery re-creates an early nineteenth-century portrait gallery, recalling the famous Governor's Room (then the actual New York City office of the state's governor) in City Hall. The gallery presents painted portraits and marble busts of some of New York's most distinguished artists, writers, and cultural and political leaders by the nation's most accomplished artists. The Yale University Art Gallery has lent a commanding marble bust of the painter John Trumbull by Robert Ball Hughes (modeled 1833; carved 1834–after 1840), while Trumbull's own work is represented in the gallery by his 1792 full-length portrait of Alexander Hamilton (Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Collection of Americana), a statesman revered by New Yorkers. Other prominent figures, such as De Witt Clinton, Andrew Jackson, who was president of the United States from 1829 to 1837, the poet and newspaper editor William Cullen Bryant, the painters Cole and Asher B. Durand, and the author Washington Irving are among the New York luminaries featured in the exhibition as they were rendered by painters such as Durand and Morse and sculptors such as Hiram Powers and John Frazee.