British colonies to the Early Republic

Artists in the British colonies and early United States looked to Europe for inspiration.

1607 - 1820

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John Singleton Copley, <em>Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Mifflin (Sarah Morris)</em>
John Singleton Copley, Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Mifflin (Sarah Morris)

On the eve of the American Revolution, a glimpse of politics in portraiture

An African muslim among the founding fathers, Charles Willson Peale’s <em>Yarrow Mamout</em>
An African muslim among the founding fathers, Charles Willson Peale’s Yarrow Mamout

How a portrait of an African muslim came to hang side-by-side with the founding fathers in one of America's earliest museums.

The triangle trade and the colonial table, sugar, tea, and slavery
The triangle trade and the colonial table, sugar, tea, and slavery

Global trade in a cup of tea: Colonial America, sugar and slavery.

Puritan court cupboard
Puritan court cupboard

Thought the Puritans were dour? Think again!

Thomas Jefferson, Rotunda, University of Virginia
Thomas Jefferson, Rotunda, University of Virginia

Jefferson’s “academical village” for living and learning is crowned by a building inspired by the Pantheon.

John Trumbull, <em>The Declaration of Independence</em>
John Trumbull, The Declaration of Independence

Trumbull traveled up and down the Eastern Seaboard to paint the members of the Continental Congress from life.

Charles Willson Peale, <em>The Artist in His Museum</em>
Charles Willson Peale, The Artist in His Museum

What couldn’t Peale do? He is shown as he saw himself: portraitist, naturalist, curator, and Enlightenment thinker.

John Singleton Copley, <em>Paul Revere</em>
John Singleton Copley, Paul Revere

Well known in his own day as a silversmith, Revere is shown in casual attire, with a teapot brimming with meaning.

Charles Willson Peale, <em>Staircase Group (Portrait of Raphaelle Peale and Titian Ramsay Peale I)</em>
Charles Willson Peale, Staircase Group (Portrait of Raphaelle Peale and Titian Ramsay Peale I)

Peale’s sons beckon us up the stairs, but be careful—it might hurt!

Gilbert Stuart, <em>The Skater</em>
Gilbert Stuart, The Skater

Depicting his subject in motion was a departure from the norm, making this painting the talk of the town.

John Vanderlyn, <em>Ariadne Asleep on the Island of Naxos</em>
John Vanderlyn, Ariadne Asleep on the Island of Naxos

Unusually early for an American artist, Vanderlyn trained in France—but Old World style didn’t sell in America.

Thomas Jefferson, Monticello
Thomas Jefferson, Monticello

In addition to being an politician, Jefferson was an ardent supporter and practitioner of classical architecture.

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