The Acadians in the Achafalaya, "Evangeline"
Joseph Rusling Meeker
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, Imagining the New Nation’s Landscape, 1800–1880
In the years immediately before the Civil War, Northerners associated dense, steamy swamps with the moral decay of Southern society and the plight of runaway slaves. Here, Joseph Rusling Meeker conveyed the more Eden-like, post–Civil War vision of the swamps. He took his inspiration from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s earlier epic poem Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie (1847). Longfellow tells of young Evangeline, one of the French Acadians expelled from Canada by the British in 1755, who searches for her lost lover amid a “dreamlike” and “strange” landscape. Adhering to Longfellow’s descriptions, Meeker evoked the lush flora of Louisiana’s Bayou Plaquemine, where Acadians sought refuge.
Oil on canvas
31 5/8 x 42 1/16 in. (80.3 x 106.8 cm)
frame: 40 x 50 x 3 3/4 in. (101.6 x 127 x 9.5 cm) (show scale)
Signed lower right: "JR Meeker, 1871"
Inscribed verso under lining canvas: "The Acadians in the Achafalaya,/ "Evangeline"/ RM [in monogram] 1871."
A. Augustus Healy Fund
Joseph Rusling Meeker (American, 1827-1889). The Acadians in the Achafalaya, "Evangeline," 1871. Oil on canvas, 31 5/8 x 42 1/16 in. (80.3 x 106.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, A. Augustus Healy Fund, 50.118 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 50.118_SL3.jpg)
overall, 50.118_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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