Exhibitions: American Identities: A New Look

Expanding Horizons

Gallery view of Expanding Horizons, American Identities

Gallery view of “Expanding Horizons,” American Identities

The works in this section demonstrate the impact of foreign travel on American fine and decorative arts in the decades immediately following the Civil War, at a time when wartime travel restrictions were lifted and a new generation of American artists began to look farther afield for subjects and training. The results of foreign experience were varied: the works here range from paintings of European and Middle Eastern subjects to Japanese-inspired porcelains to French-influenced furniture. Motivated at least in part by a desire to compete with the European art that was fast overtaking the market in the United States, young American artists sought to enhance the sophistication and cosmopolitanism of their productions through contact with foreign cultures. Many of these Americans took pride in their nationality but no longer found it central to their work.

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