Sunday, November 4, 2012

Nineteenth century image of America

I have chosen the painting by Bagram Ibatoulline, called; From the foundation up. The style of this painting is often referred to as The American Romantic Movement. This painting is typical of the 19th century style of painting; romantic valley paintings were very popular during this period. I believe this image is very symbolic of its period in time, for a number of different reasons.  Firstly the position of George Washington is very important in this painting, he is stood on higher ground, which could suggest his superiority, his body language is also significant, and he is stood tall and looks powerful, with one foot in front of the other this could suggest he is stepping forward and accepting the change? He is overlooking the  Hudson River, which is where he grew up this could be symbolising how he is overlooking his place of birth and how it has developed and changed due to the significant period in time, showing how the states are slowing moving to the western way of life. The image shows green spacious land, which appears bright and inviting, much how the American Dream is persevered. There also seems to be a pathway into the few settlements which are shown which again helps to make the painting seem more inviting – a pathway leading to something new and exciting! There are also a few settlements which are shown in the painting, this could suggest, how it just the beginning of the movement to the west, and this new way of life. The shadows from the tree and from Washington himself could suggest how he has not entered the new change; he is possibly trapped in the past- in the dark.  This also demonstrates how he is powerful, and different from the American citizens, who are in the small settlements in the valleys, there is a significant contrast between, the dark and the light. Another significant feature in this painting is the scroll Washington is holding in his hand again this emphasises on his authority, power and intelligence.  Finally I believe idealising the nature and the image and concentrating on the amazing scenery takes the focus of off the real image of power, control and scenes of leadership from the political side of things this is shown through George Washington. This painting is very different from other painting of its time period in that, this image is presented as very calm and peaceful. Whereas some other images show people, and animals all rushing to the west and is presented as panicked image, where everything is busy!


  1. This isn't a 19th c painting Saskia. He's a children's illustrator working today. You need to be careful.

  2. Oh no really ?! I have done this work about ten times this week, I did the election one to start with! Sorry