American Renaissance

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

Term applied to a taste in the visual arts and architecture for Renaissance classicism and luxury during the years around 1900. Many at the time believed that the United States had entered a period mirroring the creative, forward-looking, public-spirited character of that earlier age. Typically combining splendor with refined beauty, American Renaissance works often reflect the era's zest for national power and personal wealth. Generally leaving behind the moralizing and didactic qualities common earlier, these works celebrate the value of art as an accompaniment to elite status, a genteel lifestyle, and physical comfort. Cosmopolitan in tone, the art demonstrates an easy familiarity with European precedents. Artists associated in at least some of their work with the American Renaissance include Herbert Adams, Edwin Blashfield, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Daniel Chester French, John La Farge, Henry Siddons Mowbray, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Abbott Thayer, and Elihu Vedder. Notably, the term American Renaissance conveys an entirely different meaning with respect to the study of literature. Designating the era from approximately the 1830s through the 1860s, it refers to writers, mostly from New England, who created the first great flowering of American poetry and prose. These include Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and Transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

Subjects: Art.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.