In this distinguished work, which Hilton Kramer in The New York Times Book Review called "surely the best book ever written on the subject," Barbara Novak illuminates what is essentially American about American art. She highlights not only those aspects that appear indigenously in our art works, but also those features that consistently reappear over time. Novak examines the paintings of Washington Allston, Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Fitz H. Lane, William Sidney Mount, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, and Albert Pinkham Ryder. She draws provocative and original conclusions about the role in American art of spiritualism and mathematics, conceptualism and the object, and Transcendentalism and the fact. She analyzes not only the paintings but nineteenth-century aesthetics as well, achieving a unique synthesis of art and literature.
Now available with a new preface and an updated bibliography, this lavishly illustrated volume--featuring more than one hundred black-and-white illustrations and sixteen full-color plates--remains one of the seminal works in American art history.