Drawing Forth Spirits

Justin T. Clark

in City of Second Sight

Published by University of North Carolina Press

Published in print April 2018 | ISBN: 9781469638737
Published online January 2019 | e-ISBN: 9781469638751
Drawing Forth Spirits

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A decade after establishing the Athenaeum gallery, reformers’ concerns about the sensualism of public art exhibition culture led them to promote yet another source of moral instruction: amateur drawing. Still hoping to create a generation of pious and rational observers, Boston school reformers such as Elizabeth Peabody introduced drawing in the 1830s as a non-sectarian substitute for moral instruction. Simultaneously, industrial reformers promoted drawing at Boston’s popular artisan fair as a lingua franca for affluent connoisseurs and technically-minded mechanics. As drawing shifted from a polite art to a moral pursuit, critics feared the practice encouraged hollow mechanical imitation. Draughtsmen responded by embracing a more ethereal, Romantic visual idiom, transforming amateur drawing into a medium of Spiritualism and occultism.

Keywords: Occultism; Spiritualism; Amateur Drawing; Romanticism; Elizabeth Peabody

Chapter.  10049 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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