An Analysis Of Martin Friedman's From The Ideal To The Real

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Since the addition of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 Americans began moving westward. This expansion brought on an influx of new landscapes and themes in American art. One of these main focal pieces of art became the Mississippi River. Martin Friedman in his article “From the Ideal to the Real” examines the different representation of the Mississippi River in 19th century art. These representations vary in style and technique and they range from depicting the function of the river, the beauty of the landscape, to the everyday scenes of steamboats and life on the river. The earliest depictions of the Mississippi River were military missions depicting terrain and animal life. Seth Eastman used watercolors to chronicle Indian life around the…show more content…
Albert Bierstadt was one of the early representative of Dusseldorf style especially that of the Italianate campagne. Bierstadt, a landscape painter, traveled west to make sketches, oil studies, and stereographs of landscapes. “The rushing water, lush vegetation, luminous sky, small figures of Bierstadt’s The Fall of St. Anthony follow the Hudson River School philosophies (Friedman, 36).” This style is contrasted by Ferdinand Richardt of Denmark with his simple cubistic shapes of St. Anthony Falls and the Mississippi River. Richardt’s painting shows a balance between description and abstraction. St. Anthony Falls becomes a common scene in 19th century painting. Alexander Loemans continues the theme with an Expressionist view of the falls in what Friedman calls, “a return to elemental nature (Friedman, 36).” Bierstadt, Richardt, and Loeman’s representations of the Mississippi River landscape helped “establish the Mississippi river in the national psyche (Friedman, 36).” Through their renderings it became more of a symbol than ever before. George Caleb Bingham painted abstract arrangements and populist scenes very reminiscent of 17th century Europe. He was known as, “the ultimate chronicler if the Missouri and the Mississippi who immordalixed boatmen,

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