“Seeking to assuage the sorrow brought on by the war and to heal the nation’s fractured spirit in its wake, painters turned away from martial and political content. Responding to the assertion of women’s responsibilities after the loss of so many men in combat, artists depicted them in new roles and grappled with issues surrounding their new options. Expressing a longing for prewar innocence and the commemorative atmosphere associated with the nation’s Centennial, many painters portrayed children. And, as the agrarian basis of American life gave way to urbanization and industrialization, artists who lived, studied, worked, and exhibited their paintings in thriving cities looked to the countryside for their subjects. Painters of this era were, however, likely to show rural locales as temporary or nostalgic retreats from urban existence rather than sustainable habitats.” Weinberg and Barratt, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Follow this link for more insight into American Scenes of Everyday Life 1840-1910. The online exhibit allows you to notice beautiful details and gain better understanding of the artists and citizens of the day and it’s just plain beautiful!
Meet Lilly Martin Spencer, one of the most widely reproduced and popular American genre painters of the mid 19th century. While many women studied art as a measure of refinement, Lilly pursed a career as an artist. Her husband became a stay-at-home father, helping with domestic chores and raising their thirteen children. Theirs was a happy marriage, allowing Lilly to pursue her art.
And a self portrait . . .