British colonies to the Early Republic

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

1607–1820 C.E.

videos + essays

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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 Singleton Copley, <em>Watson and the Shark</em>
John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark

A former orphan, Watson became a wealthy and influential man—after surviving a near-fatal shark attack.

Jean-Antoine Houdon, <em>George Washington</em>
Jean-Antoine Houdon, George Washington

Lack of an American sculptural tradition compelled Jefferson to look to France for this portrait of Washington.

African Burial Ground, New York City
African Burial Ground, New York City

Unearthing New York's history of slavery

Benjamin West, <em>Penn’s Treaty with the Indians</em>
Benjamin West, Penn’s Treaty with the Indians

A founding myth for Pennsylvania and for the United States

Thomas Birch, <em>Fairmount Water Works</em>
Thomas Birch, Fairmount Water Works

Fresh water for a young Philadelphia

Thomas Birch, <em>Perry’s Victory on Lake Erie</em>
Thomas Birch, Perry’s Victory on Lake Erie

"We have met the enemy and they are ours." The battle that turned the War of 1812

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!

Selected Contributors