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American Painting of the Nineteenth Century: Realism, Idealism, and the American Experience With a New Preface [Kindle Edition]

Barbara Novak
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Surely the best book ever written on the subject."--Hilton Kramer, The New York Times Book Review

"American Painting in the 19th Century established Novak as one of the chief historians of 19th-century American painting, and it is partly due to her efforts that the period was resurrected at all."--Robert Hughes, Time

"Possibly the most important work on American art to come out in a generation. For the layman it will be stimulating reading; for the American scholar it will be essential; for both, provocative."--John Wilmerding, Antiques

About the Author


Barbara Novak is Helen Goodhart Altschul Professor of Art History Emerita at Barnard College and Columbia University. She is the acclaimed author of American Painting of the Nineteenth Century ("surely the best book ever written on the subject"-Hilton Kramer, The New York Times Book Review) and Nature and Culture ("awesomely good"-Anatole Broyard, The New York Times). She has been a Commissioner of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery for the last twenty-five years.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5832 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 3 edition (December 7, 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000V879QE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,468 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars classic study of nineteenth-century American art February 15, 2013
By hmf22
Format:Paperback
A museum curator recommended this book to me as a good starting point for learning about nineteenth-century American painting, and I found it engaging and enlightening though--as some of the other reviews note--it's not an easy read. Novak was an art history professor at Barnard College, and this book was, I think, written primarily for art historians, though it does have some crossover appeal. The main section of the book consists of twelve short chapters on representative American painters. Novak pursues two main themes: the development of the Hudson River School as a way of treating the American landscape and appealing to American tastes, and the transformation of genre painting into a form of history painting for a nation that didn't yet have much history. In the final two chapters, Novak pushes the discussion forward into the twentieth century. I found her discussion of how Mary Cassatt and Childe Hassam differed from the French Impressionists illuminating, but after that it seemed to me that the argument fell apart a bit; Novak is at her best when she's writing about the nineteenth century, not the twentieth. The book is extensively illustrated with both black-and-white photographs and color plates, and there is a useful biographical index of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American artists.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Novak seems to only care about white, male, ... October 4, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Novak seems to only care about white, male, landscape painters when there was so much more going on in American Art of the time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A 5star winner to me. October 5, 2014
Format:Paperback
Text/College course book- Love this book and how the author has clearly written it. Learning a lot with this one.
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