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Damie Stillman

Architectural and decorative arts style that flourished in the USA from shortly after the acknowledgement of independence in the Treaty of Paris (1783) until c. 1820. The term is derived from the period surrounding the creation of the federal constitution in 1787 and was in use in a political sense by that year. Essentially it was a form of Neo-classicism, strongly influenced by manifestations of that style in England and, to a lesser extent, in France; but at times certain more conservative qualities inherited from the previous Colonial period are also present. The inspiration of European, and especially English, Neo-classical architecture was to be expected in a society grounded in that of 18th-century England; but an added impetus was the association often cited at the time between the fledgling American republic and the ancient Roman one.

Although a few indications of European Neo-classical influence are found in the American colonies before the Revolution began in ...


Sandra Sider

Folk art, or vernacular art (specific to a group or place), developed in Colonial America out of necessity when individual households produced most of the utilitarian objects required for daily life. Using traditional tools and techniques, many of these makers created pieces in which aesthetics came to play a substantial role, through form, ornamentation, or both. In some groups, notably the Shakers, function was emphasized, with pure form evoking an aesthetic and spiritual response. Religious beliefs have informed American folk art, such as the saints and other figures (Santos) carved and painted by Catholic settlers in the Southwest as early as 1700. Although the majority of folk art is now anonymous, the oeuvre of numerous individual artists can be determined by their distinctive styles or marks. Folk art is often considered within the field of ‘material culture’, with an emphasis on the object’s context rather than its creator. Most American folk art falls within three categories: painting and cut paper, textiles and fibre, and three-dimensional work such as furniture, carvings, metalwork, ceramics, and outdoor installations....


Edward J. Nygren

(b Burton in Kendall or Lorton, Cumbria, 1760; d Brooklyn, NY, Aug 12, 1820).

American painter of English birth. In England he was apprenticed to a tailor and then worked in the textile trade. A business failure prompted him to leave London for New York in 1795. By early 1798 he was settled in Baltimore, MD, where he lived for the next 20 years. Having unsuccessfully attempted to establish a dyeing operation, he took up painting as a livelihood. Basically self-taught, Guy specialized in American views, especially cityscapes, although he occasionally painted English landscapes and treated more exotic places, undoubtedly using prints as sources of inspiration. The Tontine Coffee House of New York (New York, NY Hist. Soc.), one of his first major paintings, was probably executed in the early 1800s, although it has frequently been dated 1797. Guy is especially known for his panoramas of Baltimore (Large View of Baltimore from Chapel Hill, 1803; New York, Brooklyn Mus.) and for his meticulous renderings of various sites in and around his adopted city. He executed numerous views of country estates, some of which decorated painted chairs and tables made by the Finlay Brothers (Baltimore, MD, Mus. A.). Many of his paintings are preserved in the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore. With their crisply drawn forms, strolling couples and atmospheric clarity his compositions have a charming naive quality, reflective of Guy’s limited training but innate artistic ability; they also project an idyllic view of the young republic, its cultural development and natural potential....


Gordon Campbell

(b London, 1744; d Philadelphia, PA, 1821).

English calico printer, active in America. He was the son of a draper, and trained as a calico printer at Talwin and Foster, a textile printworks at Bromley Hall (Middx). He was assisted by Benjamin Franklin to emigrate, and in 1774 sailed to Philadelphia, where he opened a calico factory in the Kensington area. He printed material for dresses, handkerchiefs and furnishing fabrics, notably bedspreads with medallions depicting urns (e.g. Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A. and Winterthur, DE, Du Pont Winterthur Mus.). When Hewson retired in ...


New England’s textile mills and the villages they generated introduced the Industrial Revolution to the USA in the late 18th century. The proliferation of mills and their towns established a distinct architectural typology within a pattern of urban settlement. Systems of production used in the mills and the corporate structure underlying many of these endeavors eventually offered an important model of development at the height of American industrialization at the turn of the 20th century.

In 1789, Almy and Brown of Providence, RI hired machinist Samuel Slater to design and manage an English style mill. Slater had smuggled himself out of England, defying British law prohibiting the emigration of trained mill apprentices. His Pawtucket Old Mill (1793) was the first in America to reproduce the Arkwright frame. Powered continually by water, it allowed for longer working hours and greater output than had been possible with hand spinning.

The new spinning machines shifted traditional patterns of work and urban settlement. The mill’s greater scale of production necessitated a large work force (mostly of children) that far exceeded the population of the mill’s immediate surroundings. By definition the mill village was composed of recent arrivals whose livelihood revolved around an industrial way of life....