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

September 19, 2000–January 7, 2001

The Triumph of American Art

By the mid-1840s, New York City was the center of the American art scene. American painting and sculpture flourished and American artists had greater creative freedom than ever before. In the eleventh gallery, many of America's major artists of the period are represented by signature works known to have been exhibited in New York City or owned by New York collectors. Among these diverse masterpieces are Fur Traders Descending the Missouri (1845), painted for the New York market by the Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham; William Sidney Mount's Eel Spearing at Setauket (1845; New York State Historical Association), painted on Long Island; New York Harbor by Fitz Hugh Lane, a Gloucester marine painter (1850; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston); and Eastman Johnson's Negro Life at the South (1859; The New-York Historical Society, on permanent loan from The New York Public Library). Sculpture ranging from Erastus Dow Palmer's White Captive (modeled 1857–58 and carved 1858–59), to the painted plaster Slave Auction by John Rogers (1859; The New-York Historical Society), to the cast-bronze Indian Hunter by John Quincy Adams Ward (modeled 1857–60) are among the other works featured in the gallery. Also on view are engravings, etchings, and lithographs that explore the relationship between American painters and the art of printmaking, a medium that helped to make art available to a broader public.