As we move forward through early Colonial America towards the Federal Period, there is a powerful transition that is developing as settlers no longer are exclusively focused on survival issues. Prosperity within the colonies allows and enables the settlers to strive for luxury possessions of quality. The hard work ethic will remain, even to the present day, but settlers now wanted something to boast of their levels of accomplishment within their flourishing communities. Samuel F. B. Morse, an American painter and inventor, made the following statement in an 1814 letter: “It is really a pleasant consideration that the palm of painting still rests in America, and is, in all probability, destined to remain with us.”
What do you think Morse, co-inventor of Morse code for wired-communications, meant by the phrase “the palm of painting”? Your thoughts on the transition of American art from Colonial to late Colonial/early Federal period as referenced by Morse and found in the two images below by Emanuel Leutze, German-born American Historical Painter?
Emanuel Leutze, George Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1851
Emanuel Leutze, Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way, 1860