Old '76 and Young '48

Various artists/makers

Not on view

A family gathers here, in a room decorated with a portrait of George Washington, to hear a young soldier with a wounded arm tell war stories. At left, an older veteran of the Revolutionary War is lost in reverie, while the rest of the family, and several Black servants, listen attentively. Based on a painting by Woodville (1849; Walters Art Museum), this 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 that distributed artworks exhibited at the Art-Union's Free Gallery. Aimed at educating the public about contemporary American art, the group's distribution network reached every state. This contributed to the creation of a national market for landscapes, genre paintings, and small bronze sculptures. The system flourished for a limited period, however, with no lottery taking place in 1851, the year that this print was announced as part of a set of small engravings titled "Gallery of American Art, No. II." It was not published until 1853, the year that the Art-Union was forced to dissolve.

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