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Epic encounters : first contact imagery in nineteenth and early-twentieth century American art

Author: Katherine Lynn Elliott
Publisher: 2009.
Dissertation: Ph. D. University of Iowa 2009
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript   Archival Material : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
"Since the early nineteenth-century when Americans began recording their short history in earnest, European explorers have held a central role in the nation's historical narrative, standing alongside the Founding Fathers as symbols of American ingenuity, determination, and fortitude. The nineteenth century also saw an explosion in the number of representations of first contacts between native populations and  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: Art
Criticism, interpretation, etc
Named Person: Robert Walter Weir; George Catlin; Thomas Moran; Albert Bierstadt; Charles M Russell; Albert Bierstadt; George Catlin; Thomas Moran; Charles M Russell; Robert Walter Weir
Material Type: Thesis/dissertation, Manuscript
Document Type: Book, Archival Material
All Authors / Contributors: Katherine Lynn Elliott
OCLC Number: 726740444
Reproduction Notes: Photocopy. Ann Arbor, Mich. : UMI, 2010. 22 cm.
Description: xiv, 299 pages : color illustrations
Other Titles: First contact imagery in nineteenth and early-twentieth century American art
Responsibility: by Katherine Lynn Elliott.

Abstract:

"Since the early nineteenth-century when Americans began recording their short history in earnest, European explorers have held a central role in the nation's historical narrative, standing alongside the Founding Fathers as symbols of American ingenuity, determination, and fortitude. The nineteenth century also saw an explosion in the number of representations of first contacts between native populations and European and Euro-American explorers. These works range from fine art examples to illustrations in the popular media and were produced by artists across the artistic spectrum. Despite the popularity of the First Contact subject and its longevity within American art history, the importance of these images has, as of yet, been unexplored. This dissertation examines First Contact images created in America during the nineteenth and early twentieth-century by artists Robert Walter Weir, George Catlin, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, and Charles M. Russell. I argue that the subject's popularity can be attributed not just to their importance as depictions of epic moments of transition in national and cultural history, but to the openness, or the mutability, of the subject itself. The first meeting of two people is an event of great possibility and potential, but, as this extended examination of the subject demonstrates, it can also be transformed to communicate vastly different messages at different moments in history. As Americans simultaneously struggled to create a past, understand the present, and visualize the future, the First Contact subject, with its focus on the ambiguous meeting of two cultures, allowed a site in which to grapple with central questions and anxieties of the period, even as it depicted the past. They are thus complicated paintings that speak not to the facts of contact, but to the purposes served by these constructions and corrupted histories."--Abstract.

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