The Image Breaker

Various artists/makers

Not on view

Based on an 1847 painting by the German-American artist Leutze, this work dramatizes religious differences that divided families during the English Civil War. A father has interrupted the Catholic devotions of his daughter and prepares to smash devotional objects on a small altar. The print was published by the American Art-Union, a New York institution that boasted nearly nineteen thousand subscribers at its height in 1849-50. For an annual fee of five dollars, each member received a large, finely engraved, print and was entered in a lottery to win original artworks which were exhibited at the Art-Union's Free Gallery. Aimed at educating the public about contemporary American art, the group's distribution network reached members in every state. This contributed to the creation of a national market for landscapes and genre paintings. The system flourished for a limited period, however, with no lottery taking place in 1851, the year that the Art-Union issued this work as part of a supplementary set of smaller engravings titled "Gallery of American Art," No. I.

The Image Breaker, Alfred Jones (American, Liverpool, England 1819–1900 New York), Etching, engraving and stipple on steel

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