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The Acadians in the Achafalaya, "Evangeline"

Joseph Rusling Meeker

American Art

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.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1871
DIMENSIONS 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)
SIGNATURE Signed lower right: "JR Meeker, 1871"
INSCRIPTIONS Inscribed verso under lining canvas: "The Acadians in the Achafalaya,/ "Evangeline"/ RM [in monogram] 1871."
COLLECTIONS American Art
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 50.118
CREDIT LINE A. Augustus Healy Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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CAPTION 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)
IMAGE overall, 50.118_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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