Paul Revere, c. 1768-70, John
Singleton Copley, American (1738-1815),
35 x 28 ½" oil on canvas.
Museum of Fine Arts. Reproduction photograph.
| The Boston silversmith
was already well known in the colonies as a devoted patriot.
He was active in political organizations such as the Sons of
Liberty and was critical of British policy in his engravings
and assumed a crucial role as mediator between the
intellectual leaders of the revolution and the much larger
group of workers that supported them.
Paul Revere is typical of Copley’s male portraits in showing
the attributes of the subject’s profession. Revere is
painted in a white undershirt, a heavier white shirt and a
blue-green waistcoat, with no jacket. His teapot and
engraving tools remind us of his daily work. In no other
portrait does Copley show a man holding his head in such an
evocative manner. An equally striking effect derives from
the teapot held in Revere’s other hand. In fact, the silver
teapot view vies with the subject’s face for our attention,
and its material existence promises to bear Revere’s fame
death. The highly polished wood surface with an elaborate
front molding is
obviously not Revere’s regular workbench. The shiny wood
gives the painter an
opportunity to show his skill at rendering reflections.
Though Revere wears a work
shirt, it is perfectly clean for the occasion. The whiteness
of the linen and the bold
illumination of the folds and gathers are exactingly
|Paul Revere and John Singleton Copley were best friends.
Copley was born in
Boston in 1738. His father died when he was quite young and
his mother then
married a man named Peter Pelham who was a portrait painter
and engraver. Young
Copley grew up in an atmosphere of pictures and paints, and
even took lessons from
his stepfather. He soon painted far better than his teacher,
and at 17 was painting
portraits of prominent citizens. Copley had a talent for
catching the likeness of a
person and his personality as well.
Copley - Biography
Paul Revere Web
Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,
1931. Grant Wood, American, (1891-1942) oil on canvas.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Reproduction
| This is an example of a
contemporary artist painting an historic scene. The night of
April 18, 1775 was made famous nearly a hundred years later
by the American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was
arranged for a signal to be flashed from the steeple of the
Old North Church in Boston. Two lanterns would mean that the
British were coming by water and one lantern, by land.
Revere carried the news of the approach of the British to
Lexington. He left Boston at about 10:00 PM and arrived in
Lexington at midnight, riding a borrowed horse. He warned
those at Lexington and proceeded on to Concord. He was
captured en route by a British cavalry patrol, but was later
released, without his horse to return to Lexington. The next
afternoon, in Lexington, shots rang out across the village
green. The American Revolution had begun.
Grant Wood was inspired, not only by the known facts of
Revere’s courage, but also by Longfellow’s poem. Here we see
the dark silhouette of horse and rider galloping through a
village. Grant Wood was an American regionalist painter from
the Midwest. He spent several years in Europe, where, in
Paris, he admired the Impressionists and, in Munich, he
learned much from studying the skillful execution of the
Flemish old masters. When he returned to his native town of
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he taught art and received a commission
for a local stained glass window. He painted scenes of
simple, hardworking farm life and in 1930 received national
recognition for his portrait,
Note the "bird's eye view" in
Grant Wood - Biography
Grade 3 Lesson 2
for more Grant Wood
Spirit of '76, 1876, Archibald McNeal
Willard, American (1837-1918) Abbot Hall, Marblehead, MA,
|This is the famous patriotic
scene painted about 1876 by the American artist. The scene
shows a fife player and two drummers leading American troops
during a battle in the Revolutionary War. It began as a
humorous sketch called “Yankee Doodle” which Willard made in
1874 or 1875 for a 4th of July celebration. Later, he
changed the sketch to a painting with a serious theme for
the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. His father,
a Baptist minister, was the model for the central
figure. Hugh Mosher, a soldier friend, posed for the fife
player, and the son of John H. Devereux, a pioneer railroad
executive, became the drummer boy.
Willard produced at least four versions of
this painting which was exhibited in cities from coast to
coast. Devereux bought one in 1880 and gave it to
Marblehead, MA where it hangs in Abbot Hall, the town hall.
Willard was a carriage painter from Wellington, Ohio.
click for enlargement
I want you for the US Army! c 1917,
James Montgomery Flagg, American ( - ) WWI recruiting poster.
Smithsonian Institute. Reproduction print
| James Montgomery Flagg,
the most famous poster artist of the World War I period,
created the picture in which Uncle Sam, with grave and
commanding expression, points straight out from the Army
recruiting poster saying, “1 WANT YOU.” The lean, stern face
of Uncle Sam bears a marked resemblance to that of the
artist. The illustration was originally painted as a cover
for Leslies’ Weekly, but it soon became the most famous
poster in our history. Flagg’ s Uncle Sam became so well
known that over the years we’ve accustomed ourselves to the
way Uncle Sam “should look.”
Note: the foreshortening of
Allies Day May 1917, 1917, Childe
Hassam, American (1859-1953) 36 3/4 x
30 1/4 in. (93.4 x 76.8 cm) oil on canvas National Gallery of Art,
Washington, Reproduction print.
| ---looking north on
Fifth Avenue, with St. Thomas’ and the Gotham Hotel on the
One of the first acts of Mayor
John Purroy Mitchel in the spring of 1917 was to proclaim
Fifth Avenue “The Avenue of the Allies” and to suggest that
appropriate flags be displayed. The response was immediate;
the next day the New York Times had no less than eight
advertisements for flags. “Show your colors,” one suggested.
As it developed, the Mayor’s proclamation quickly led to the
designation of various blocks to honor the different Allies.
It is no exaggeration to say that the appearance of the
international rainbow symbolized the entry of America into
the great world; this massive fluttering of the banners of a
dozen nations on the main street of our largest city
forecast the death of American isolationism.
The artists of America were no less anxious than others to
make their contribution to the war effort. In May 1917. a
huge exhibition of paintings was held in New York; they were
contributed by artists and were to be sold for war relief.
Childe Hassam gave one of the canvasses. It was an impartial
New England scene; but before the war was over, the conflict
would provide Hassam with the finest subject of his career
It was a subject far from the bloody trenches of France, for
the United States, unlike the other Allies, did not send
painters to cover the war. Hassam’s theme was New York,
particularly Fifth Avenue, panoplied like a dreadnought
prepared for an
Chide Hassam’s New York flag paintings represent one of
those fortunate meetings of talent, subject, and conviction.
Born in 1859, near Boston, the painter grew up with a strong
feeling for his native land. He expressed this patriotic
pride in a letter to Robert Louis Stevenson: “...my
ancestors fought in every war... for human liberty. Stephen Hassam... was a powder boy at Bunker Hill and lived to bury
a son who was killed at Malvern Hill in our Civil War. They
lie side by side in the old town of Charleston, N.H.; John
Hassam, age 21, Stephen Hassam, age 100.”
Thus it was natural that the Avenue of the Allies, with its
brilliant decorations should
have become Hassam’s supreme theme.
On November 15, 1918, four days after the armistice, New
York’s Durand-RueI Galleries, one of the major dealers in
impressionist art, held an exhibition of Hassam’s flag
paintings. They are numbered twenty-three, though he painted one
more in 1919.
From American Heritage, June 1969
See also Grade 1 Lesson 5
George Washington, 1795, Gilbert
Stuart, American (1775-1828), Andrew Mellon Collection, National
Gallery of Art, Washington DC, Reproduction print.
| Gilbert Stuart was
raised in Newport, Rhode Island, where his father worked in
the tobacco business. As a boy he took art lessons from a
Scottish painter then working in Newport. In 1775 he
traveled to London where he studied with Benjamin West for
four years. Stuart was the most sophisticated and highly
regarded American portrait painter of his generation. His
technique developed out of the fashionable style of
late-eighteenth century British portraiture as practiced by
Gainsborough and Romney. With rapid brushstrokes and a keen
appreciation for the optical blending of colors, he created
a soft and atmospheric effect in his paintings. His American
works were highly successful, and by the end of his life he
was recognized as his country's foremost portrait painter.
Stuart produced over 114 portraits of Washington, over 60 of
which were replicas of the famous "unfinished" work, which
has become the "official" portrait of the first president.
designed by Betsy Ross has 13 stars in a circle
(representing the original 13 colonies).
star spangled banner represent 15 states - KY and VT plus
the original 13. (The poem for the National Anthem "The Star
spangled Banner" was composed in 1812 by Francis Scott Key,
a lawyer who was held captive aboard a British Ship during a
The '76 Bennington flag was used during the Battle of
Burlington (now Vermont) during the Revolution.
- Three Flags, c.1955, Jasper Johns,
American (1930-) Whitney Museum, NY Reproduction print.
|Jasper Johns, a contemporary
of Andy Warhol, was born in Georgia and raised in South
Carolina. The abstract movement of the 1950s led America,
and Johns, in to the international Art arena. He painted a
series of American Flag paintings, of which this is one.
Biography (Nat Gall of Art)