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The railroad and the camera as icons of power in American art and drama, 1840-1870

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The railroad and the camera as icons of power in American art and drama, 1840-1870
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Simonds, Nanette K
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English
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66 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Railroads in art ( lcsh )
Cameras -- Social aspects -- United States ( lcsh )
Art, American -- 19th century ( lcsh )
American drama -- 19th century ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 65-66).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Humanities, Master of Humanities Program.
General Note:
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Statement of Responsibility:
by Nanette K. Simonds.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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19719665 ( OCLC )
ocm19719665
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LD1190.L58 1988m .S55 ( lcc )

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Full Text
THE RAILROAD AND THE CAMERA AS ICONS OF POWER
IN AMERICAN ART AND DRAMA, 1840-1870
by
Nanette K. Simonds
B.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1976
A.S., Community College of Denver, 1983
A Thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Humanities
Master of Humanities Program
1988


This thesis for the Master of Humanities Degree by
Nanette K. Simonds
has been approved for the
Master of Humanities Program
Charles Moon-
DATE f


Camera as Icons of Power in
Siraonds, Nanette K.
The Railroad and the
American Art and Drama, 1840-1870.
Thesis directed by Professor Rex Burns.
The development of the United States is a
history of forces which shaped a new nation with a
culturally unassirailated background into a national
identity based on technology and democracy. In the
process a unique American vernacular was evolved which
was separate from the cultured traditions of its
heritage.
The impact of the Industrial Revolution on the
growing and expanding nation was immense. The
inventions of the scientifically-oriented nineteenth
century were part of the forces which shaped the life
and thought of the country. Henry Adams identified
four inventions which were especially important; they
were the telegraph, the Daguerreotype, the railroad
and the ocean steamer.
The prominence of these inventions can be found
recorded in the arts. Examples of two of these
inventions which artists of the nineteenth century
included in the arts are the railroad and the camera.
The railroad is included in an increasing number of,
first, landscape paintings, and later, photographs.
An important example is George Inness' painting, "The


i v
Lackawanna Valley". As we
recording of the inclusion
life of the people, the ar
statements amout the impac
A second invention,
the dramas of the period,
the visual arts, the prese
attests to the importance
invention. In addition to
the period, the camera is
machina and becomes a mean
well as a cultural artifac
The impact of the s
great that several of them
cultural symbol and become
seeking ideas and symbols
identity. The inventions
of the primary forces such
efficiency as the new nati
economy with democratic in
The form and content of th
recommend publication.
Signed_________
11 as making a pictorial
of the invention in the
tists also make social
t of that inven tio n.
the camera, is re corded i
Simi lar to the railroad i
nee o f the camera in drama
and p opularity of the
bein g present in plays of
given the task of deus ex
s of resolving the i action
t.
cientific inventions is so
surpass the status of
icons of power in a nation
for its independent
are seen as manifestations
as functionalism and
on combines a machine
stitutions.
is abstract are approved. I
Faculty member in charge of thesis


V
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
In addition to the committee members listed
herein, I wish to gratefully acknowledge the guidance,
assistance and encouragement of Dr. Celia Rabinovitch,
of the Department of Fine Arts and Theatre, University
of Colorado at Denver, and Peter Hackett, of the
faculty of the National Theatre Conservatory in
Denver, Colorado.
Nanette K. Simonds


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION...............................1
II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND.....................10
III. PROGRESS INVADES THE PALETTE..............22
IV. TECHNOLOGY COMES TO THE STAGE
IN AMERICAN DRAMA....................... 39
V. PHOTOGRAPHY IN FOCUS IN AMERICA:
THE GROWTH OA A NEW IDEA..................54
VI. CONCLUSION................................62
BIBLIOGRAPHY
65


Vll
ILLUSTRATIONS
Illustration
1. "Kindred Spirits"............................. 26
2. "Mill Pond and Mills, Lowell,
Massachusetts"...............................30
3. "The Lackawanna Valley"........................ 33
4. "Starrucca Viaduct"..............................35
5. "Mirror Lake and Mount Watkins"..................58
6. "The Famous Harper's Ferry at
the Confluence of the Potomac
and Shenandoah Rivers".......................59


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Since recorded time began man has struggled to
explain his existance and the phenomena of his
environment. He has left the record of this struggle
in the arts such as painting and drama, and more
recently, photography. The arts, being the expressive
voice of a people at any given time in society's
history, record the past, or invision the future.
They become historical artifacts from which may be
derived the issues and ideas of that society.
Artists are searchers as well as recorders.
Through their perception of the arts as communicative
and expressive mediums, the artist gives manifestation
to the creative power of which man is both receptor
and transmitter. Through his choice of subject
matter, the artist lends distinction to the concerns
of his era and also reflects, in part, the market for
his ideas.
Some ideas are more prevelent and widespread in
a society than are others. As a particular idea or
set of ideas become accepted by a greater part of
society, it can occupy the position of a cultural
symbol or even an icon. The difference between


2
cultural symbol and icon will be explored with the
purpose of showing that items of technology, with
examples such as the camera and the railroad, became
cultural icons in the time period under consideration.
The purpose of this study is to obtain a better
understanding of the forces that shaped American
history and national identity and to document their
manifestation through selected examples in the arts.
With those ideas in mind, this paper will explore a
major statement of American culture as recorded in the
arts, particularly painting and drama* in the period
1840-1870; that is, technology was a cultural icon of
power in America in the mid-nineteenth century, and,
as such, this concept was one of the expressions of
the developing American national identity.
The years 1840-1870, just prior to and
including the Civil War and its conclusion, have been
referred to as a period of "coming of age," or a
consolidation of a sense of national identity, for
America as a nation. As various elements such as
political, economic, and philosophical were brought
together, they sometimes came into conflict. A prime
example, of course, is the Civil War itself. In
addition to seeing various historical events in an
attempt to formulate a nations history, it is


3
imperative also to observe the means by which
conflicts are resolved. In the case of technology,
with its various manifestations such as the invention
of the telegraph, camera, and railroad, the meaning is
inherent in both the item and the use given it.
In The Arts in Modern American Civilization,
Dr. John A. Kouwenhoven tells us that
Men everywhere and at all times instinctively
seek to arrange the elements of their environment
in the patterns of sounds, shapes, colors and
ideas which are aesthetically satisfying, and it
is this instinct which underlies the creation of
techniques and forms in which the creative
imagination of the artist finds expression.!
Both the' techniques and forms which identify
the development of American identity as a nation at
this time are to be found in her primary art forms; it
is further imperative to discover the depth of
acceptance of these forms and their importance. There
is a significant difference to be perceived between a
cultural symbol and a cultural icon, particularly in
view of the fact that this study contends that the
various manifestations of technology surpassed the
status of symbol and did, indeed, become icons.
!john A. Kouenhoven. The Arts in Modern
American Civilization (New York: W.W.Norton & Co.,
1967), p. 3.


4
The basis for this contention is founded upon
the requirement classification for icon as established
by Dr. Erwin Panofsky in Meaning in the Visual Arts.^
The discussion is further clarified by comparing Dr.
Panofsky's concepts to the definition of cultural
symbols as given by Dr. Leo Marx in The Machine in the
Garden.3
To summarize briefly, according to Dr. Marx, a
cultural symbol is an "image that conveys a special
meaning (thought and feeling) to a large number of
those who share the culture".4 An icon, on the other
hand, has the implication of being a religious image
and conveys an implied power to those who believe in
or have faith in it.^ The latter meaning, icon, will
be used in this study as it relates to the railroad
and camera in America during the period 1840-1870.
A third key term needs to be defined.
Vernacular is used as defined by Dr. Kouwenhoven.
^Erwin Panofsky, Meaning in the Visual Arts
(Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982), pp.
26-29.
^Leo Marx The Machine in The Garden (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1964).
^Marx, Ibid. p. 4.
^The Oxford University Dictionary, Vol. V,
1933 ed., p. 12.


5
in the work already cited and means a unique statement
by a people in response to a particular environment,
geographical and psychological, at a particular time.
For relatively new Americans, it meant producing
objects and meanings in a heretofore culturally
unassimilated environmentHowever, certain cultural
legacies did impact on the American experience of that
time, and these legacies will be considered in the
discussion. Reference is specifically made to the
established forms upon which new statements were
imposed. For example, new statements were made in the
theatre but they were imposed upon classical
theatrical formulas and devices. A similar situation
existed in painting.
A number of authors have explored the topic of
the impact of technology on American history to some
extent and we are indebted to several outstanding
studies. Dr. Leo Marx, in the previously mentioned
The Machine in the Garden,^ gives a broad overview of
the 'invasion' of the American Eden by technology and
provides a thorough discussion of the roots of the
Arcadian and Edenic idea in American thought and
culture. Dr. John A. Kouwenhoven in The Arts in
^Kouwenhoven, Ibid., p. 1'3.
^Marx, Ibid., 365 pp.


6
O
Modern American Civilization, presents one of the
major works on the exploration of the development of
the American vernacular and relates that development
of technology to that statement. Dr. Rex Burns*
Sucess in America,9 explores the impact of the yoeman
concept to the social and economic development of the
country and his study provides essential information
for understanding the particular challenges of
technology to that ideal.
Additional works that providedd background
information to the period and topic under study
include The American Mind in the Mid-Nineteenth
Century. by Dr. Irving H. BartlettThe Search for a
Usable Past, by Henry Steele Commanger,H and Paths of
American Thought, a collection of readings edited by
Arthur M. Schlessinger, Jr., and Morton White.12
Robert Taft's book, Photography and the American
O
Kouwenhoven, Ibid.
9Rex Burns, Sucess on America (Amherst,
University of Massachusetts Press, 1967).
l^Irving H. Bartlett, The American Mind in the
Mid-Nineteenth Century (Northbrook, IL: AHM Publishing
Corporation, 1967).
HHenry Steele Commanger, The Search for a
Usable Past (New York: Alfred A. Knoph, 1967).
12Arthur M. Schlessinger, Jr., and Morton White,
Paths of American Thought (Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1963).


7
Scene.13 ia one 0f the major books on the history and
impact of photography on American life and thought to
date.
A study of this type should be able to answer
the question, "What contribution will be made by this
endeavor?" Although several other studies have come
close to the topic and and admit that technology is an
integral part of our national identity, none has dealt
with items of technology as icons of power in our
society at a particular time, and as such, was vested
with power by that society. It is important to
observe and acknowledge this statement and to reflett
on its implications, particularly with regard to its
roots and its meaning for the future of America.
Primary sources of this concept are to be found
in paintings such as "The Lackawanna Valley", 1855, by
George Inness,!^ and "Starrucca Viaduct", 1865, by
Jasper Cropsey,15 and in photographs such as "The
Famous Harpers Ferry at the Confluence of the Potomac
^Robert Taft, Photography and the American
Scene(New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1964).
^Alfred y
erner, Inness Landscapes (New York:
Watson-Guptill Publications, 1977), p. 25.
15j0hn Wilmerding, American Art (New York,
Penguin Books, 1976), Plate 97.


8
and Shenandoah Rivers, 1865, by James Gardner.16 jn
drama, one of the most prominent examples is to be
found in The Octoroon, by Dion Boucicault;17 in
addition, Fashion, by Anna Mowatt Ritchie,18 and
Shenandoah, by Bronson Howard,^ are also relevant.
A major discussion of the impact of technology
and its conflict with nature, or faith, is included in
the chapter entitled "The Dynamo and the Virgin" in
Henry Adams' autobiography, The Education of Henry
Adams; material is drawn from this source in support
of this study.20
This study will not attempt to explore the
impact of this topic throughout all of American life
in the raid-nineteenth century, but will be confined to
the essential conflict that existed between the
16Taft, Ibid. p.. 239.
17M on Bocicault. "The Octoroon" in
Representative American Plays (New York:
Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953), pp. 269-398.
l^Anna Mowatt Ritchie, "Fashion" in
Representative American Plays (New York:
Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953), pp. 277-321.
l^Bronson Howard, "Shenandoah" in
Representative American Plays (New York:
Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953), pp. 475-512.
^Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
(New York: The Modern Libraary, 1931), 505 pp.


9
established ideas about nature, including faith and
the roots of that faith, and the challenge to it by
science as manifested in technological inventions.
Therefore, in order to achieve the goal of
establishing the idea that the various manifestations
of technology were icons, let us recognize that the
ideas about nature, the elements of art and drama, and
the means for resolving problems are significant
ingredients. The topics and their interrelationships
will be explored in succeeding chapters.


CHAPTER II
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Gradually breaking social, economic and
political ties with its European roots in the early
nineteenth century, the United States sought objects,
symbols and icons for national self-identification.
The search was evident in all the arts: including
painting, literature, and drama.
The history of the United States is a
progression toward a new definition of faith,
notwithstanding its religious origins. Progressively
freeing itself from earlier constraints or traditional
modes and methods of thinking, the desire to establish
a national identity based on the facts of technology
in combination with democracy is consistently
manifested in its cultural voice.
Accelerated during the Jacksonian era
(election: 1828), American politics was characterized
by an age of unfolding national optimism, progress and
self-determination. After the War of 1812, a livelier
period of trade and population growth took place than
ever before.
By 1840, the United States had survived the War
of the Revolution, the War of 1812, and more than a


11
half-century of self-rule. The hostile wilderness
that had greeted and nearly destroyed the first
settlers had been cleimed along the eastern seaboard
and a modicum of civilization had been established.
The new society carried with it a legacy of the past
but was set down in a relatively new environment. The
new nation had begun its economic growth.
The importance of nature in the American
ideology cannot be overstated. With roots in a
combination of both the Arcadian and Edenic ideals,
the American land held an unprecedented promise of
freedom, peace and plenty.
To begin with, let us trace the importance of
nature in American history and then see its conflict
with technology. We shall pay particular attention to
the means by which the conflict is met.
For example, even further back than the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the historical
roots of the significance of the American landscape
can be traced to classical times, even pre-dating, but
not ignoring, the Edenic ideal of the Bible.
The Roman poet Virgil is said to be the
originator of the idea of pastoral perfection by
describing "...the most enchanting dream which has
ever consoled mankind, the myth of a Golden Age in


12
which man lived on the fruits of the earth,
peacefully, piously and with primitive simplicity.!
Virgil invented Arcadia, "any place or region
thought to epitomize rustic contentment and
simplicity", 2 or an area exemplified by a natural
fullness of life and unspoiled by man-made objects,
although man himself is often present. Examples of
this idyllic landscape idea in the classical artistic
mode are "A Road Near Albano" by Poussin, "Philemon
and Baucus" by Reubens, and "View Near Harlem" by von
Ruisdale. They are characterized by a horizontal
format and a benevolent natural environment.
The implications of this legacy for the new
nation were enormous. Coupled with the idea of the
Garden of Eden from the Bible, the pastoral ideal was
one of the images that enticed settlers to the New
World.
The development of American painting was first
an imitation of Eurpoean subjects and styles; the
artists of Colonial America were generally
^-Kenneth Clark, Landscape Into Art (New York;
Harper and Row, Publishers, 1979), p. 109-
^William Morris, Ed., The American Heritage
Dictionary of the English Language (Boston: Houghton
Mifflin Company, 1976), p. 67.


13
portraitists who recorded the political, social and
economic 'aristocracy' of the new nation. Often the
backgrounds of these portraits included Rembrantian
darkness to offset the likeness of the subject. Many
adopted the style of Renaissance portraiture with the
cut-away window showing small areas of terrain owned
by the portrait subject as a means of indicating his
possessions and status. It was not until the early
nineteenth century that rendering the American
landscape became a school of painting for its own
sake, and this is directly correlative to America's
awakening interest in her growth as an independent
nation with a distinct geography of her own.
In addition to the efforts of our own American
artists, European artists and writers came to see and
record the land and the efforts of the nation. Their
impression is well summarized by the Englishman John
Hill, who in 1830 wrote the introduction to his book,
Picturesque Views of American Scenery: "In no quarter
of the globe are the majesty and loveliness of nature
more strikingly conspicuous than in America''.3
Hill also wrote:
The vast regions which are comprised in or
3john Wilmerding, American Art (New York:
Penguin Books, 1976), p. 75.


14
subjected to the republic present to the eye every
variety of the beautiful and sublime... Striking
however and original as the features of nature
undoubtedly are in the United States, they have
rarely been made the subjects of pictoral
delineation... America only, of all the countries
of civilized man, is unsung and undescribed
Coincident with the Jacksonian era came the
call and the response for America's first school of
nature painting. The founding of the new republic,
and its subsequent growth and expansion, had
stimulated a need for national history and art at
home, and an awareness of the country and its
resources both at home and abroad.
A unique American vernacular developed as
nature and science met in the battle for the
resolution of economic conflicts such as slavery and
national expansion. Several sets of conflicts
presented themselves: nature versus science, religious
versus secular thought; Old World artifices versus New
World naturalness. The conflict was intensified as
the nation tried to continue to look eastward to
Europe for example and approval, and at the same time,
to march westward for territorial expansion and
independence.
The technology which developed out of the
Industrial Revolution challenged existing beliefs,
4
Ibid


15
particularly the reverence for nature.i It also
challenged the foundation of that reverence,
particularly religious views since the idea was based
on the concept of the Garden of Eden as found in the
Bible and as perceived as being manifested in the
providential hand of God in placing the settlers in
the bountiful, pure and unexplored new land.
The age of Reformation which saw the first
American pilgrims seeking religious and political
freedoms gave way to the Age of Enlightenment and its
Lockean ideal of an integrated nature, man and
society. A 'middle landscape' of wedding nature and
science emerged for awhile with such proponents as
Thomas Jefferson. Eventually the balance was tipped
and science achieved the ascendency. The struggle and
eventual resolution is recorded in art, drama and
photography, and in the writings of American men of
letters such as Henry Adams.
In 1900 Henry Adams, son and grandson of
American presidents, and himself an historian,
teacher, and philosopher, viewed the Great Exposition
of 1900 in Paris. Following his curiosity as he had
done at the Chicago Exposition of 1893, he once again
sought out the scientific exhibits.


16
Previously, as a medieval historian at Harvard,
Adams had long been familiar with the force of the
Virgin in history. While not a disciple of that
force, he nonetheless admitted and documented the
scope of that force through history. Now, as an
observer and recorder of American history and the
forces which shaped it, he pondered the force
potential of the electrical dynamos on display there.
He was fascinated. Adams concluded that true science
"is the development or economy of forces"^ and that he
saw it as a symbol of infinity and he began "to feel
the forty-foot dynamos as a moral force, much as the
early Christians felt the Cross''.^
Adams goes on to tell us that
The planet itself seemed less impressive, in
its old-fashioned, deliberate, annual or daily
revolution, than this huge wheel, revolving within
arm's-length at some vertiginous speed... Before
the end, one began to pray to it; inherited
instinct taught the natural expression of man
before silent and infinite force. Among the
thousand symbols of ultimate energy, the dynamo
was not so human as some, but it was the most
expressive.7
^Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
(New York: The Modern Library, 1931), p. 379.
6 Ibid., p. 380.
7
Ibid


17
He then relates his impressions to that of his
thoughts as an historian:
Satisfied that the sequence of
nothing and the sequence of their
lead no further, while the mere se
was artificial, and the sequence o
chaos, he turned at last to the se
and he concluded:
The year 1900 was not the first to upset
schoolmasters. Copernicus and Galileo had broken
many professional necks about 1600; Columbus had
stood the world on its head towards 1500; but the
nearest approach to the revolution of 1900 was
that of 310, when Constantine set up the Cross.?
Adams then attempts to resolve the conflict
which had developed in the mid-nineteenth century and
which he perceived in his reflections in 1900.
Briefly summarized, he concludes by stating that "by
action on man all known force may be measured",^ and
he tells us that "The historians business was to
follow the track of the energy; to find where it came
from and where it went to; its complex source and
shifting channels; its values, equivalents,
it 11
conversions A
man 1 d to
society could
quence of time
f thought was
quence of force.
Ibid. p. 382.
%bid. p 383.
10Ebid., p. 388.
11Ibid. p. 389.


18
In a more recent work, the subject of forces
and their manifestation in American life is dealt with
by John A. Kouwenhoven in his book The Arts in Modern
American Civilization, first published in 1946. He
states the concern and conflict of energies and their
manifestation through the examination of what he
describes as the 'cultivated* and the 'vernacular'
styles, or the influence of European art ideas as
compared to American technological design on the
culture of the United States.
Kouwenhoven tells us that
Men everywhere and at all times instinc
seek to arrange the elements of their envi
in patterns of sound, colors and ideas whi
aesthetically satisfying, and it is this i
which underlies the creation of techniques
forms in which the creative imagination of
artist finds expression. 12
Responding to the challenge that Americ
"civilization but not culture",13 he sets forth to
continue what Adams began: an analysis of the roots of
our particular American vernacular and its synthesis
into expression.
Kouwenhoven begins by reminding us that
It is time we considered the frequently crude
but vigorous forms in which the untutored creative
12john A. Kouwenhoven, The Arts in Modern
American Civilization (New York: W.W. Norton &
Co., 19.67), p. 3.
13 Ibid., p. 12.
tively
ronraent
ch are
nstinct
and
the
a had


19
instinct sought to pattern the new environment.
It is in this unpretentious material that we may
find the clearest expression of the vital impulses
upon which the future of modern civilization
depends.14
In order to define the American vernacular, we
look to Dr. Kouwenhoven. He tells us that
The forms we have so long neglected are in
reality the products of a unique kind of folk art,
created under conditions which had never before
existed. They represent the unself-conscious
efforts of common people, in America and
elsewhere, to create satisfying patterns out of
the elements of a new and culturally unassimilated
environment.15
He further clarified this vernacular as
...the art of sovereign, even if uncultivated,
people rather than of groups cut off from the main
currents of contemporary life. The patterns it
evolved were not those which are inspired by
ancient traditions of race or class; on the
contrary, they were imposed by the driving
energies of an unprecedented social structure. In
their least diluted form these patterns comprise
the folk arts of the first people in history who,
disinherited of a great cultural tradition, found
themselves living under democratic institutions in
an expanding machine economy.16
In short
The men and women who built a civilization in
the American wilderness had to relearn a truth
which many of their European contemporaries had
been able to get along without: the truth of
l4Ibid., p. 13.
l^Ibid.
l^Ibid., p.
13


20
function. They had to become familiar with the
nature of materials and the use of tools.17
Dr. Kouwenhoven further explains the rise of
American technology as the dominant, motivating force
during the growth of our country. Because of the
coincidence of time and idea, the sleek functionalism
of the machine came to have a beauty of its own, and
although we have tried, from time to time, to cling to
the cultivated tradition and to translate it to our
shores, it lacked the potency of being of our
experience. Thus, Dr. Kouwenhoven gives expression to
the concern that Adams had with the American lack of
imvolvement with the either of the Virgin (a sacred
heritage) or of Venus (the secular heritage) as motive
forces. What he is telling us, either through his
descriptive history of architecture, engineering,
machinery, or the growing Americanization of the arts,
is that just as the braces first hold up and then fall
away as a rocket leaves the launch pad at Cape
Kennedy, so did the cultivated tradition of western
civilization first give support to and then was pushed
away as we developed our own indiginous experiences
and manifestations.
17Ibid.


21
These manifestations are to be found in the
visual arts beginning with the Hudson River School of
painting


CHAPTER nr
PROGRESS INVADES THE PALETTE
Looking back at the nineteenth century from
the vantage point of 1904, Henry Adams wrote:
Impossibilities no longer stood in the way.
One's life moved on impossibilities. Before the
boy was six years old (1844), he had seen four
impossibilities made actualthe ocean steamer,
the railway, and the electric telegraph, and the
Dagureotype; nor could he ever learn which of the
four had hurried the others to come.l
The new inventions soon found their way into
the national vernacular and were quickly recorded by
its artists. The new tradition was begun by artists
such as Benjamin West and Thomas Cole. West in
partic ular began setting his portraits of Americ an
heroes in contemporary dress and recogniza ble se ttings
rather than those of an cient history as ha d been the
manner of painting borr owed : from European styles
Painti ng in the decades j ust prior to the ninete enth
centur y and beginning t o break with those European
styles and models, West also initiated .. .quali ties
peculiar to American art: the preference for
factuality and the almost scientific concern for the
physical world, and the early graphic tradition
^Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
(New York: The Modern Library, 1931), p. 494.


23
r\
characterized by...linear and tonal sharpness".
Into this combination of fledgling tradition
and contemporary situation stepped Thomas Cole
(1801-1848), founder of the Hudson River School. It
was Cole who "most influentially articulated the
polarities in American painting between recording and
O
interpreting nature. It was Cole who led other
American artists from the former style of classical
Claudian implications (of) gentle, pastoral,
civilized Old World landscapes^ into a drive toward
topographic depiction. They further redefined the art
of painting according to the new American vernacular.
Specifically, the artists of the Hudson River School
portrayed the uniquely American attitude toward
reality.
Cole's works are devoid of technology but it
is important to observe his painting since he
popularized American landscape painting and brought
before the public the most distinctive and most
impressive characteristic of American scenery, its
wilderness.
2
John Wilmerding, American Art (New York:
Penguin Books, 1976), p. 78.
^Ibid. p. 78-
^David Rand, "Charmed Places in Horizon, April
1988, p. 16.


24
The American wilderness was equated with the
naturalness of the Arcadian scenes of Virgil and of
the Biblical Garden of Eden. Both elements are
important but the latter one is especially so as an
element of our native aesthetic, including harmony and
order and the providential hand of God in placing the
American settlers in this modern-day land of bounty
and goodness.
John Wilmerding, author of American Art, in
speaking of the 1830's, declares that "The thoroughly
American branch of painting, based upon the facts and
tastes of the country and people, is the landscape",^
and further states:
It was during this same period that nature
came to be identified with American history
painting, becoming the new vehicle for moral
imperatives, spiritual inspiration, and didactic
formulas. The experience of the wilderness, with
its purity and beauty, was associated with pride
in a new political order and in a regenerative
power believed distinct from the corruptions and
age of European civilizations. American painters
went out into nature with the reverential attitude
of pilgrims; their mission was to define for their
public the native character of American geography
and its revelation of God's presence. One
therefore sketched from recognizable locales,
while imaginatively selecting portions for
compositional synthesis that would illustrate a
higher 'spiritual design'.6
. 93.
5lbid., p
6lbid., p
77


25
This description is exemplified by Asher B.
Durand's painting, "Kindred Spirits", and the painting
contains the elements Cole held as imperative in
constituting the American wilderness. These elements
as set forth in Cole's work "Essay on American
Scenery"^ (1835), includes mountains, foliage, and
sky.
Mountains, Cole said, exemplify the sublime,
the magnificent, the grandeur of the scene. Water,
the 'voice' of the landscape, almost as expressive as
the presence of the mountains, allowed a complete
range of moods, from the contemplative placid lake to
the active coursing stream to the sublime force of a
waterfall such as Niagra Falls which was revered and
often pai nted and written abo ut at this time
Foliage, part icularly in the aut umn, was the thir d
element c ited by Cole and it was capable of Calli ng
attention to degrees of age, the passage of time, or
the singu lar beauty of divine ha ndwork. Fin ally, sky
could spe ak t o many feelings whe ther it was the
serenity of summer's blue sky or the dark tumult of a
storm.
^Thomas Cole. "Essay on American Scenery" in
American Art From the Colonial Era to the Present (New
York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1980), pp. 82-90.


26


27
g
"Kindred Spirits" embodies all of these
elements. Stately mountains tower on both sides and
across the background, giving the viewer a protected
valley softened by mellow, autumnal foliage and small
waterfalls feeding a pleasant stream. A warm
afternoon sky softens the vista which includes the
figures of Cole and William Cullen Bryant standing on
a rocky precipice overlooking the benevolent woodland
valley.
The title "Kindred Spirits" is indicative of
both the relationship between the painter Cole and the
poet Bryant, and also the harmonious relationship
between man and nature, and between all and God. The
latter is an important statement of the period.
In confronting the problem of pictorially
establishing the relationships between the two men,
and the. men with nature, the artist has resolved the
problem with artistic resources. The artist had
manifest the theme of kindred spirits through the
proximity of the two men to each other and also in the
landscape by depicting a gentle harmony between
foreground and distance, and by placing the elements
of the environment, such as rocks, water, and foliage,
^Wilmerding, Ibid., plate 95.


28
in a gentle and natural placement. Selected elements
such as the gently intertwined trees on the left .
provide a vertical foil for the two human figures, and
they are parallel to the rock formations and
mountains. The autumnal color scheme selected by the
artist enhances the harmonious mood. Another of
Cole's own paintings, "The Oxbow (1836),
many of the same elements. It also exempl
characteristic of artists at this time who
recognizable locales. "The Oxbow", for ex
subtitled, "The Connecticut River Near Nor
Cole articulated the national visi
His purpose was to un
he saw, as did his co
ion between the beauti
rs of the Hudson River
k Kensett, Albert Bierstadt,
ick Edwin Church, and Cole
a legacy of America as the
rovidential Garden of Eden
early as 1847 the concern with the
n was recorded by a critic viewing
paint and in words.
American nature, for
"inseperable connect
good".^ The painte
notably John Fredric
George Inness, Fredr
himself, left behind
modern, unspoiled, p
However, as
invasion of thei Ede
contains
ifies the
painted
ample, is
thampton".
on both in
veil
untrymen, an
ful and the
School,
9Ibid., p.
77


29
the pictures of Jasper F. Cropsey, a Follower of Cole:
The ax of civilization is busy with our old
forests, and artisan ingenuity is fast sweeping
away the relics of our national infancy...Yankee
enterprise has little sympathy with the
picturesque, and it behooves our artists to rescue
from its grasp the little that is left, before it
is too late.10
The American artist did continue to 'rescue'
the pristine wilderness, and a few also started to
perceive and portray the encroaching agents of
civilization. Yankee enterprise, especially in the
form of the railroad and factory, were being felt by
raid-century. It began as a romance with technology
and grew toward a disquiet with the possible
destructive capacity of the machine, as the century
advanced.
One of the earliest landscape painting
record the change from idyllic landscape to th
the encroachment of technology into the landsc
"Mill Pond and Mills, Lowell, Massachusetts",
Thomas Doughty. Painted in 1833, it present
small in scale compared to both nature (trees)
man-made buildings. The natural setting retai
s to
at of
ape is
by
s man as
and
ns a
nibid.,
!2[bid.
9
p. 85.
plate- 87.


30
2


31
sense of stillness and beauty in contrast to the
implied busyness and productivity of the mills.
Though man is small in scale to both the trees and the
factory building, and man placed lower in the picture
plane, the latter is of slightly larger size, as
though in some sort of uneasy balance to the other.
The man, in a boat on the placid water pond seems
shielded by nature (i.e., the large tree in the center
middle ground) for the time being, but the relative
larger size of the factory to the tree gives an
ominous quality to the picture.
The entire canvas is a sequence of contrasts,
such as natural trees and man-made architecture, light
and dark forms, placid and moving waters. These
contrasts are especially appropriate as symbols of the
coming changes, as technology invaded the garden and
brought forward another component of American
characterits desire for newness, practicality and
functionalism. Though the Americans felt their
forefathers had been led by divine providence into a
land of space and abundance, they also carried with
them a high degree of self-reliance, self-identity,
and self-determination. The earlier landscape
painters had attempted to acquire the land by
traveling through it and rendering its likeness.


32
Now the land would be acquired by possession more
physical than spiritual.
Like Doughty, George Inness was a later member
of the Hudson River School. His painting, some twenty
years later, "The Lackawanna Valley", embodies three
of the major elements proffered by Cole: mountains,
foliage, sky. Only water is missing. (Is tranquility
departing?) This picture also retains the horizontal
picture plane, underscored by the partially reclining
figure. However, in comparison to Doughtys painting
with the factory on the right side of the painting,
Inness places the advancing locomotive almost at the
center with both the passive observing figure and the
largest manifestation of nature in the foreground, the
tree, off to the left. The roundhouse and railroad
company's buildings are present in the distance. A
number of tree trunks are shown in the center
foreground and imply the loss of nature to the
construction of the railroad (possibly for railroad
ties ) .
All three of the foreground, middle-ground,
and background areas parallel the horizon and
contribute to the sense of harmony and tranquility
^Alfred Werner, ^ nness; Landscapes (New York:
Watson-Guptil Publications, 1977), p 25.


33
3
George Inness: The Lackawanna Valley


34
used by landscape painters, but the train is set at a
moderate diagonal, and implies an intrusion into the
balance that is both pictorial and psychological. It
bisects the picture plane, providing an even greater
image of intrusion than does the factory building in
Doughty's picture. The resolution of the formal
elements of the painting also gives implication to the
statement made by the painting; that is, line is a
formal element of painting, apd in this painting the
artist uses the diagonal as a suggestion of movement
or change as compared to horizontal or vertical lines
with their implication of stability and continuance.
Just as industrialism and technology are making their
march into American history, so does Inness' train
invade the peaceful Lackawanna Valley. A major
cultural symbol of American technology, the railroad,
had now taken center stage in American landscape
painting. As Bruner states, "Nature was no longer the
primary source of inspiration; rather it was man and
his invented symbols".13
A third example is "Starruca Viaduct" by
Jasper Cropsey.^ John Wilmerding gives a description
13l ouise Bruner, "Religious Themes in American
Art" in American Artist, December 1980, p* 79.
l^Wilmerding, Ibid.,
plate 97


35
4. Jasper Cropsey: Starrucca Viaduct.


36
of this painting:
Man's industry (in both senses) is evident
here still as an emblem of American power and
growth. The machine for now embodies and confirms
possession of the wilderness. It remains a small
and romantic counterpoint to the surrounding
natural beauty, as is clear from the contemplative
distance imposed between the small figure in the
foreground and the rail viaduct, and from the
proximity of the train's puffs of steam to the
clouds crowning the mountain above. The energies
of the train and landscape are for the moment in
harmony.15
Painted in 1865 at the close of the Civil War,
"Starruca Viaduct contained the tradition established
by Cole by framing the scene with trees and giving
central position to the mountain. Similar in
composition to "The Lackawanna Valley, the train
bisects the middle-ground of the picture, and like
Durand's "Kindred Spirits", two figures are placed on
the rock promontory on the left side as they passively
contemplate the view before them. In each of the
three paintings, the human figure is inactive,
contemplative and passive. The main difference is
that the viaduct in Cropsey's painting crosses nearly
the entire canvas in the middle-ground. This
placement puts it in harmonious parallel to the
horizontal composition of the painting. The autumnal
coloring and natural setting which includes Cole's
15
Ibid., p
185


37
requirements of mountains, water, foliage, and sky,
help reinforce the continuation of the romantic
approach of nineteenth century America toward the
introduction of technology.
The key to understanding the statement made by
these three paintings is that the means by which the
artist arrived at the resolution of the artistic
problems is an indicator of the statement being made.
That is, the resolution of the painting depends upon
the interrelationship of the various formal artistic
elements such as line, color texture, and format..
The statement indicated by the foregoing
artists was basically that of a changing reality, from
pastoral and ideal to industrial and disturbed. The
formal element of line is used decisively and
eloquently. In Durand's painting, the simple
verticals and horizontals combine to achieve a sense
of harmony and balance. Doughty and Cropsey, however,
introduce strong diagonals bisecting the middle-ground
of the picture plane. Doughty uses a mild diagonal
right through the foreground with the edge of the
water pond; the locomotive in Inness' landscape
approaches on an even stronger diagonal into the
center of the painting. A diagonal line indicates an
incomplete motion; it is neither a complete vertical


38
or a complete horizontal. It is disruptive an an
intrustion of the basic harmony of the painting.
Through the use of both subject matter and
formal artistic elements, the landscape painters of
the mid-nineteenth century recorded and commented upon
the changing reality of American life and the
establishment of the American vernacular


CHAPTER IV
TECHNOLOGY COMES TO THE STAGE IN AMERICAN DRAMA
At raid-century the issues of industrialization
and slavery were foremost. A lack of resolution of
these issues cast a shadow across the American Garden
of Eden. Though the problems of the Industrial
Revolution were not limited to the United States,
here,it was combined with the doctrine of democracy
and it took on a special identity. The factory system
threatened the yoeraan dream of competence,
independence and moralityl by pushing great numbers of
American workers into anonymous labor and surrender of
economic independence and personal freedom.
Nevertheless, the tide of technology was
sweeping the country and, in addition to its depiction
in paintings and photographs, it was also included in
some of its most popular dramas, such as the Octoroon.
Though often used as an example of anti-slavery
sentiment and melodrama as an art form, The Octoroon
includes an even more significant statement about
American Culture in the 1850s: the growing dependence
on technology for the resolution of problems.
iRex Burns, Sucess In America (Amherst:
University of Massachusetts Press, 1976), p. 1.


40
The Octoroon includes classical dramatic
elements just as the Hudson River School of painting
had included classical artistic elements. The
Octoroon includes the traditional Aristotelian
elements of plot, character, setting, theme, music and
spectacle. It also includes an additional element,
the theatrical convention termed deus ex machina. The
importance of this element is seen when comparing
Euripides play Medea with Dion Boucicault's play The
Octoroon. By this comparison a new awareness of the
importance of resolution of conflict by society at a
given time can be obtained.
Deus ex machina is a type of traditional
theatrical convention which is based on an agreement
between the audience and the actor (or playwright),
and it can range within a whole set of tacit
understandings that form the context of playwatching.
Robert Cohen tells us that they can be "conventions
such as 'when the curtain goes up, the play begins;
when the curtain comes down, the play is over".^
There is an additional means by which a theatrical
convention can have importance to a play and that is
the agreement by the audience (sometimes representing
a whole society) and the playwright about the manner
^Robert Cohen, Theatre (Irvine, California:
University of California, 1981), p. 33.


41
in which the play is presented or the conflict
resolved. To be more specific, it is understood that
in a society at a given time, the resolution of the
conflict will be in accordance with certain mutually
understood conventions of thought. For a
demonstration of this, we shall examine the means by
which resolution is achieved in two different
theat rical eras , and to do this, we shall us e the
Greek -Play Medea, by Euripides,3 wr itten in 431 B.C.,
and an Ame rican play , The Octoro on, by Dion
Boucicault , 4 wr itten in 1859.
In the age o f Euripides the Greek ph ilosophy
held that gods and g oddesses had po wers far and above
those of mortal s and that they were interest ed in
morta Is an d oft en in tervened in the ir affair s. In
drama , it prese nted a means for res olving a problem.
Often times a lo gical resolution seemed appar ent, but
in ke eping with thei r preception of the illo gic of
human af f a irs, this arbitrary ac tio n of the gods
seerae d pla usibl e and expected.
Th is is seen in Medea. Aft er an int roduction
^Euripides, "Medea in Seven Famous Greek
Plays (New York: Vintage Books, 1950), pp. 286-338.
^Dion Boucicault, "The Octoroon" in
Representative American Plays (New York:
Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953), pp. 369-398.


42
that explains the actions which took place before the
play opens, and the building of the play to its
climax, it appears that Medea, for all her
mistreatment, real or imagined, at the hands of Jason,
is to be banished to Corinth and that any means of
escape for her has been eliminated. However, as Jason
and his men rush to the doors of the house where he
believes Medea to be, we are told that Medea appears
above the house in a chariot drawn by a dragon and
makes her escape.
The gods, either arbitrarily or
sympathetically, have intervened, and it is
demonstrated on stage by the utilization of a
mechanical crane which allowed an actor, in the guise
of a god, to be placed on stage as though descending
from the sky to enter the action of the play for the
purpose.of resolving the problem. This is a clear
manifestation of the desires of the people at that
time to put the resolution on the responsibility of
someone or something outside themselves as they
attempt to deal with their existence and physical
phenomena.
According to The Penguin Dictionary of the
Theatre, dues ex machina means:
Literally a god from a machine, come to sort
out the action of a play at the end. The machine
used in greek theatre to give actors the


43
appearance of flying, but the terra was later
applied to the chariots in which deities would
descend in the Baroque theatre. The phrase is
used now figuratively, of a character who arrives
from outside the main action of a play at its end
and sets matters to rights.^
Let us expand on this definition and include a
thing as well as a character which arrives to set
matters to rights'.
C. J. Gianakaris, in Foundations of Drama,
further defines deus ex machina in its original us age
and also applies it to modern drama . He tells us:
The magical flying chariot drawn by the dr agon
(in Medea) is a typical deus ex machina. Li te raly
this means god o f the machine, because some di ety
would be lowered mechanically i nto the play ar ea
of the theatre to resolve arbitrarily the dilemma
of the protagonist. Therefore, the denouement
does not evolve naturally from the action;
instead, they reflect the approval of the gods.
Otherwise here it can be deduced that Medea could
not possibly have escaped from Corinth. In
contemporary drama, a deus ex machina is any
device used to help the hero out of an impossible
situation.6
In the first half of the nineteenth century in
the United States, dramatic literature was essentially
a copy of the main currents of European drama,
particularly that of England. This situation is
comparable to the visual arts at the same time.
^John Russell Taylor, The Penguin Dictionary
of the Theatre (New York: Penguin Books, 1966), p. 83.
C. J. Gianakaris, Foundations of Drama
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975), p. 49.


44
In addition, copyright laws were not yet
enacted that protected ideas from being plagiarized or
ensured that royalties were paid. It was a common
practice to 'steal' a popular plot and re-work it for
presentation. The use of deus ex machina had been
retained but up-dated. At this time in American
history, it increasingly became the machine, and in
particular, in drama, photography, which entered the
scene as a scientific or mechanical means for
resolving the plot.
We have seen that the Greeks believed their
gods and goddesses would intervene from outside the
action as a manifestation of their philosophy. It
also tells us that they believed in polytheism. To
the Americans of the mid-nineteenth century, one of
their 'gods' seems to have become the machine of his
Industrial Revolution. In whatever guise it appeared,
it was expected to solve his problems and resolve his
dilemmas. It was both his invention and his aid.
In The Octoroon, the resolution is achieved
through an up-dated version of the deus ex machina.
Before we go on to a fuller exploration of The
Octoroon, let us compare the genres of both plays.
Medea is a classical tragedy with a universal issue,
justice, and significant characters, Jason, Medea and
the royalty of their peers.


45
The Octoroon is an example of melodrama, with
the problem of protecting the family plantation as the
dominant action. In addition, it carries with it a
strong anti-slavery message. The characters are the
new 'aristocracy' of American life, its plantation
owners, as well as working class people, slaves and
native Indians. It cuts a broad swath across the new
democratic society and is an appropriate vehicle of
the American vernacular.
Further comparisons can be made. Euripides,
among other theatrical virtues, had a sense of the
dramatic possibilities of an individual scene and an
ability to use dramatic innovation to reinterpret the
traditional legends upon which all the dramatisists
relied for their material. He also believed in
...ethical problems, in human beings face to
face with the pain and evil of human life, as they
exhibit now strength and now pathetic weakness.
Although he never consistently formulates his
ideas concerning the gods or the superhuman
elements in the universe, he nevertheless seems to
believe that they exist and are relavant to human
life in some way or other.7
We know that American drama, from its
eption, had strong roots in European heritage.
dually, the characters and settings in American
drama assumed more and more American
^Whitney J. Oates and Eugene O'Neill, Jr.,
Seven Famous Greek Plays (New York: Vintage Books,
1950), p. xix.


46
characterizations, and the elements of drama,
including scenery, costuming and properties, came to
exhibit more and more of the local and regional decor
of the times, much the same way that West painted his
subjects in local and modern clothing, and Cole
painted recognizable landscapes.
The issues were to have an important impact
on the playwright Dion Boucicault. He was an Irishman
by birth and had had considerable experience in
theatre in England before coming to the United States
in 1852. An earlier play, London Assurance, had been
well recived, and Boucicault, a prolific playwright
(with a reputation for 'borrowing* plots), as well as
an actor and director, was well aware of. the
popularity of melodrama in America.8 Like Euripides,
Boucicault was extraordinarily sensitive to ideas that
captivated the audiences of his day, and he saw the
potential dramatic marriage of melodrama and
technology. As he had often done in the past,
Boucicault 'borrowed' part of the plot and some of the
characters from a book and made it ready for the
American stage. In his introduction to the play,
Arthur Hobson Quinn tells us that an additional
element was also borrowed: "The device of the
^Richard Fawkes, Dion Boucicault (London:
Quartet Books, 1979).


47
accidental photographing of the murder of Paul is
found in The Filibuster, an English novel by Anthony
Fonblanque (1859)".^
In briefly reviewing the plot of The Octoroon,
we find that the Peytons are about to loose their
plantation, Terrabonne. The deceased Judge Peyton,
either out of misplaced trust or naivete, mortgaged
the property and then died. His widow and his nephew
George seem no better prepared to handle the situation
than was the late Judge.
The villaneous McClosky, a formar overseer of
Terrebonne, holds one of the mortgages. He desires
the young octoroon, Zoe, who is beautiful, good, kind
and noble. The natural daughter of the late Judge and
a slave of the plantation, Zoe is in love with George,
but she realizes they can never be married because of
southern laws and attitudes about mixed marraiges.
Salem Scudder also holds one of the mortgages
on the plantation. He is a stock character of his
time and an example of the developing American
identity. Basically good and honest, somewhat
homespun with a noble naturalness, he tinkers with
things in the way of the inventive and ingenious
^Arthur Hobson Quinn, Representative American
Plays (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofyf, Inc., 1953)
p. 372.


48
Americans.. It is said of him that he fools with
"...improvementsanything from a stay-lace to a fire
engine. Well, he cut that for the photographing
line."10
There are two possibilities for saving the
plantation and the way of life exemplified by the
Peytons. One is for a letter of credit to arrive from
London. A large sum of money is owed to the Judge or
his heirs. The alternative solution is for George to
deny his good and natural love for Zoe and marry the
heiress Dora. Dora wants George even though she does
realize the financial situation of Terrebonne.
Undoubtedly, the more honorable solution is the
arrival of the money and a resolution to this level of
the plot is provided.
In Act II, Paul, a 13-year old colored boy of
the plantation, watches Scudder take Doras picture
with his new-fangled camera. Paul miscalls it a
telescope, giving it the name of an implement more
familiar to him. He watches Scudder, thus obtaining,
he thinks, the procedure for its use, and, of course
his fascination with the device had been aroused.
10Boucicault, Ibid., p. 376.


49
Pauls friend, an American Indian, Wahnotee,
wants rum. Paul knows where the rum is, and, with the
promise of rum, he entices Wahnotee to take off the
lens cap, run to a distant tree and back again to then
replace the lens cap. Paul has estimated that this
action will be the appropriate amount of time for
exposure to take his picture.
The villain McClosky re-enters the situation
at this time. He has just came across information
that the boat from England has docked and the
long-awaited letter of credit is close at hand. It
is, in fact, in the saddlebag on which little Paul is
sitting. Wahnotee had laid down his tomahawk for the
run to the tree. McClosky, not seeing Wahnotee, picks
up the tomahawk, runs toward Paul, kills him, and
stands in Paul's place in front of the camera as he
tears open the saddlebag and finds the letter.
Unknown to McClosky, his picture is taken with the
evidence around him. McClosky steals away. Wahnotee
returns to find his little friend Paul dead, blames
the strange contraptionthe cameraand smashes it.
To briefly summarize, the camera and its
incriminating plate are discovered in the nick of time
and the plantation is saved. The evil are punished
and the good are rewarded, with the exception of Zoe.
She, in a noble effort to repay the Peytons for years


50
of love and care and to protect George, takes poison
and dies. It is a sad but noble solution to that part
of the plot, and one that was consistent with
contemporary social and political realism in 1859.
The essential point is, that new invention,
the camera, provides the resolution of the main plot,
and it is a contemporary technological device rather
than the actions of the gods that brings American
drama in line with realism as it was perceived at that
time. In The Octoroon, as in American life in the
1850s, art and science are wed.
Correlative to the several paintings cited
which documented American interest in railroads and
included them as subject matter, and in further
recognition of the importance of the camera and
photography as a topic, we can cite additional
examples of its inclusion in American drama during
this time.
One of the first was Fashion, a dramatic
social satire, by Anna Mowatt Ritchie.*^ It was first
produced in New York in 1845, just two years after the
introduction of the Daguerreotype into this country.
Remembering that setting is one of the six
llAnna Mowatt Ritchie, "Fashion in
Representative American Plays (New York:
Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1053), pp. 277312.


51
Aristotelian elements of drama, it is important to
observe that an album is given as part of the stage
directions for Fashion. The play is set in New York
and the directions are given as follows: "Act First.
Scene I. A splendid room in the house of Mrs.
Tiffany... mirror, couches, ottomans, a table with
albums, beside it an arm chair".12 To be fashionable,
as Mrs. Tiffany aspired to do, one would be expected
to have an album visible in the parlor.
Another example of the popularity pf the item
can be found in Bronson Howard's Shenandoah.13
Produced in 1888 but based on an earlier play of 1868,
Shenandoah represents a typical Civil War play. It is
set in Charleston harbor in 1861, and the time of the
first scene, we are told, is "after the ball".^4
Shenandoah includes the intricacies of Civil
War loyalties and intrigues, but for our interest, a
secondary plot has to do with the minature (a
Daguerreotype) presented by General Haverhill to his
second wife on the occasion of their marraige in 1855.
By the wording given to us by the playwright we know 1
12Ibid., p. 238.
1 S
Bronson Howard, "Shenandoah" in
Representative American Plays (New York:
Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953), pp. 473-512.
14Ibid. P. 479.


52
it was a photographic miniature and not a painted one,
the art form which would have proceeded it.
The plot deepens as the miniature moves from
hand to hand, to the confusion and distress of the
General. In short, before the plot is resolved the
relationship of the General and his new wife is almost
destroyed. But in the end, all is explained,
particularily the circumstances of the Daguerreotype,
and the raarraige is saved, as is the union. Bronson
Howard, the playwright of Shenandoah, capitalized on
the popularity of photography for the success of his
play, as had Dion Boucicault.
A final play to be cited is Margaret Flemming,
produced in 1890.^ It is a play which was written in
the new realistic vein, having infidelity as its
theme. Written by James A. Herne, it is set in
Canton, Massachusetts, in 1890, and to establish its
mood and characters, we are told:
It is a morning in spring in Phillip
Flemming's private office at the mill. The room
is handsomely furnished... There is a bunch of
flowers on the desk and two silver frames holding
pictures of Margaret and Lucy.16
l^James A. Herne, "Margaret Flemming" in
Representative American Plays (New York:
Appelton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953), pp. 513-544.
16lbid., P. 521.


53
Thus, from this brief description of the
setting, we find two elements of contemporary America
in 1890: one of the main characters is a mill owner,
the result of the Industrial Revolution, and he is
affluent enough to own and display photographs of his
family in silver frames on his handsome desk.
The use of albums to hold tintypes, cartes de
visite and Daguerreotypes was cited in plays as early
as 1845 in Fashion and continues with the development
to photographs by the end of the century. For the
playwrights active in the period 1840-1890,
increasingly representing realism both in topic and in
stage design, the inclusion of the process and product
of one of the most important inventions of the
nineteenth century becomes a significant statement of
the developing American identity.


CHAPTER V
PHOTOGRAPHY IN FOCUS IN AMERICA:
THE GROWTH OF THE NEW IDEA
In Photography and Society, Gisele Freund sums
up the impact of photography on the nineteenth
century: "Photography", she said, "was the child of
advances in science and the rising classes' need for a
new form of artistic expression".'*' She was speaking
of the impact of photography on her native France, the
country from which we received the Daguerreotype
process, but the statement is relavant to the
situation in the United States as well. In a century
devoted to scientific discoveries and applications,
the trend toward realism found another area for
activity.
The impact of the photographic process and the
photographic image upon American culture was immense.
Not only was the invention a manifestation of an
expanding machine economy, it was also a device that
appealed to a democratic society which wanted the
products of its manufacturing available to the public
^Gisele Freund* Photography and Society
(Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 1982), p. 69.


55
at large and not just to a privileged elite. The
miniature photographs which could be so quickly-
produced at a very low cost soon replaced the
hand-painted, slowly rendered, more costly item. In
addition, the idea of realism, which was also
manifested in recognizable locales in painting and
carefully researched settings on stage, was now
demanded, rather than idealism, in its portrait
images. In society, it became fashionable and popular
to present a carte de visite, a calling card with a
small photograph on it. For a nation at war, it
allowed thousands of soldiers to take with them a
pictorial memento of sweetheart or family, or to give
these loved ones a photograph to help keep memory
alive until they returned.
The Dagerreotype was introduced into the
United States in 1843 and was an immediate sucess.
The tendency inherent in the American personality
toward functionalism was fulfilled in the new
invention, and it's speed in producing an image was in
step with a nation on the move.
According to Robert Taft in Photography and
the American Scene, the United States had a population
of 17,069,453 in 1840; at that time, of course, the
census showed that no one listed their main occupation


56
as that of photographer. A decade later, in 1850, the
population had increased to to 23,191,873, and 938
persons claimed photography as their main occupation.
The increase in the next decade in both population and
number of persons listing photography for occupation
shows another substantial increase. At that time
(1860), of a population of 31,000,000, photography was
2
claimed by 3,154.
By the end of the Civil War the camera had
been introduced into America for over twenty years;
howe.ver, American portrait painting would continue to
be a strong medium, especially through the careers of
such artists as Eakins and Sargeant. In addition,
Eakins, for example, is known to have used photography
as a means for scientifically studying the muscles of
the body in motion for more accurate rendering of them
in his paintings.
The quick and easily transportable camera
would become the major recording device as American
expansion continued. Photographers such as William
Henry Jackson, Mathew Brady, C. E. Watkins, and T. H.
OSullivan went on expeditions or traveled alone just
^Robert Taft, Photography and the American
Scene (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1938),
p. 61.


57
as Cole and other Hudson River artists had done
earlier; however, the photographers were more
wide-ranging in their travels than the painters had
been, but this is a correlative of the expansion of
the country during their time.
Early photographers shared the artist's
tradition of composition as it concerned landscapes.
C. E. Watkins, although he earned his living as one of
the new portrait photographers, is an example of one
of the new photographic artists who had outstanding
capabilities in landscape work as well. His 1860
3
photograph "Mirror Lake and Mount Watkins", taken at
Yossemite contains the elements identical to those
established for the Hudson River School: mountains,
water, foliage, and sky, and in a horizontal
composition. It also is a recognizable locale with a
title indicating this, just like the painters did.
The introduction of the railroad into the
landscape photographs also followed composition of the
paintings of this type. An example is James Gardner's
work, "The Famous Harpers Ferry at the Confluence of
the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers".^ Photographed in
1865, it commemorated the location of an historic
^Ibid., p. 256.
*Ibid., p. 239.


58
5
C. E
Watkins
Mirror Lake and Mount Watkins


59
6. James Gardner: The Famous Harpers Ferry at the
Confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.


60
event as well as containing a railroad bridge similar
to the painting cited earlier by Jasper Cropsey.
As the century progressed, the camera not only
challenged the position of painting but began to
surpass it. Although in some instances, painting kept
pace with the changing face of America, in other areas
it lagged behind. It continued to depict genre
scenes, particularly of the wilderness, but it did not
find a wide audience for the new cityscape. However,
in Mirror Image: The Influence of the Dagerreotype on
American Society, Russell Rudisill tells us that "By
1850 urban development was becoming a substantial fact
in American life",^and that "Not only did early
photographers document the appearance of the wilder
half of the continent, but they had recorded the
character of urban America.^ Therefore, "With urban
centers becoming part of the national landscape as
surely as farms or the wilderness, it was natural that
the daguerreotypist should turn his lens on the city
and the town".* 6 7
^Russell Rudisill, Mirror Image: The Influence
of the Dagerreotype on American Society (Albuquerque;
University of New Mexico Press, 1971) p. 151.
6Ibid. p. 151.
7Ibid.


61
Rudisill then summarizes this new role of the
daguerreotypist in his statement: "The dagerreotypist
had already appeared as a man sensitive to the
movements of his time; it seems reasonable, then, that
he should be intrigued with this newly emerging face
of American life and wish to record it." Painting
would not make a major effort to re-enter the artistic
life of the country until after the turn of the
century.
As the idea of realism in art, drama, and
literature grew in the latter half of the century and
into the early years of the twentieth century, the
camera, with its untouched rendering of its
subjectspersonal or geographicwas the instrument
for itstime.
8 Ibid


CHAPTER VI
CONCLUSION
The record of the struggle of the American
people and nation for an independent identity is
evident in her arts, particularly in drama and the
visual arts including painting and photography.
Beginning with inherited structures and statements, we
Americans quickly assimilated our own statement, which
Dr. John A. Kouwenhoven has termed the American
vernacular.
Dr. Kouwenhoven also stated that the arts are
rooted in the civilization which produces them, shaped
in its image.^ Henry Adams perceived that the
railroad, the telegraph, the Dagerreotype, and the
steam engine were four of the most significant
inventions of his century. The use of the railroad in
painting and photography and the Dagerreotype, or
camera, in drama, is a documentation of the search for
identity and expression. With the quickness that was
characteristic of Americans for adapting new
mechanical inventions to their purposes and lifestyle,
Ijohn A. Kouwenhoven, The Arts in Modern
American Civilization (New York: W. W. Norton & Co.,
1967), p. 27.


it should not seem surprising that these items became
both topic and element of the artistic record.
The impact of photography on American drama,
for example, had definable roots. Even before the
introduction of the Dagerreotype in the United States,
the combination of pictures and machinery had made
their appearance on the American Stage. As in the
other instances cited, a traditional art form was the
basis. As dramatic presentations became more and more
elaborate, scenery was was painted on canvas for a
background to the setting. The next step was to
mechanize the canvas so that the background moved.
Thus, the scenic diorama came into existance as drama
moved into a more and more realistic mode of
presentation and subject matter. In time, the camera
came on the stage as an integral part of the action,
both as an art form, replacing painting, and as a
scientific device imbedded in the action. Thus, the
impact of photography on the American theatre was
twofold.
The history of the United States appears to be
a progression toward a new definition of faith, or
reality, notwithstanding the nation's religious
origins. Using the term icon rather than cultural
symbol for several of the inventions of the


64
mid-nineteenth century is a strong declaration, and
yet the evidence is recorded in our cultural documents
and artifacts. And if, as Dr. Kouwenhoven has
indicated, the American experiance has replaced the
cultured traditions of its European heritage, then
Americans have indeed found new icons through his
reliance, not on nature and a benevolent providence,
but on man and his 'invented symbols'.


BIBLIOGRAPHY
Books
Adams, Henry. The Education of Henry Adams.
The Modern Library, 1931.
Bartlett, Irving H. The American Mind in the
Mid-Nineteenth Century. Northbrook, IL:
AHM Publishing Corporation, 1967.
Burns, Rex. Success in Anmerca. Amherst:
University of Massachusetts Press, 1976.
Clark, Kenneth. Landscape Into Art. New York: Harper
and Row, Publishers, 1979.
Cohen, Robert. Theatre. Irvine, California:
University of California Press, 1981.
Commanger, Henry Steele. The Search for a Usable
Past. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967.
Fawkes, Richard. Dion Boucicault. London: Quartet
Books, 1979. .
Freund, Gisele. Photography and Society. Boston:
David R. Godine, Publisher, 1982.
Gianakaris, C. J. Foundations of Drama. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975.
Kouwenhoven, John A. The Arts in Modern American
Civilization. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1967.
Marx, Leo. The Machine in the Garden. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1964.
Morris, William, Ed. The American Heritage Dictionary
of the English Language. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1976.


66
Oates, Whitney J. and Eugene O'Neill, Jr. Seven
Famous Greek Plays. New York: Vintage Books,
1950.
Oxford English Dictionary. Vol. V., 1933 ed. Oxford:
The Clarendon Press, 1933.
Panofsky, Erwin. Meaning in the Visual Arts.
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982.
Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Representative American Plays.
New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953.
Rudisill, Russell. Mirror Image: The Influence of
the Dagguereotype on American Sociey.
Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New
Mexico Press, 1971.
Schlessinger, Arthur W., Jr. and Morton White. Paths
of American Thought. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1963.
Spencer, Harold, Ed. American Art: Readings from the
Colonial Era to the Present. New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1980.
Taft, Robert. Photography and the American Scene.
New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1964.
Taylor, John Russell. The Penguin Dictionary of the
Theatre. New York: Penguin Books, 1966.
Werner, Alfred. Inness Landscapes. New York:
Watson-Guptil Publications, 1977.
Wilmarding, John. American Art. New York: Penguin
Books, 1976.
Periodicals
Bruner, Louise. "Religious Themes in American Art"
in American Artist, December 1980.
Rand, David. "Charmed Places" in Horizons,
April 1988.


Full Text

PAGE 1

THE RAILROAD AND THE CAMERA AS ICONS OF POWER IN AMERICAN ART AND DRAMA, 1840-1870 by Nanette K. Simonds B.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1976 A.S., Community College of Denver, 1983 A Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Humanities Master of Humanities Program 1988

PAGE 2

This thesis for the Master of Humanities Degree by Nanette K. Simonds has been approved for the Master of Humanities Program Charles Moon" DATE r 1

PAGE 3

Simonds, Nanette K. The Railroad and the Camera as Icons of Power in American Art and Drama, 1840-1870. Thesis directed by Professor Rex Burns. The development of the United States is a history of forces which shaped a new nation with a culturally unassimilated background into a national identity based on technology and democracy. In the process a unique American vernacular was evolved which was separate from the cultured traditions of its heritage. The impact of the Industrial Revolution on the growing and expanding nation was immense. The inventions of the scientifically-oriented nineteenth century were part of the forces which shaped the life and thought of the country. Henry Adams identified four inventions which were especially important; they were the telegraph, the Daguerreotype, the railroad and the ocean steamer. lhe prominence of these inventions can be founrl recorded in the arts. Examples of two of these inventions which artists of the nineteenth century included in the arts are the railroad and the camera. The railroad is included in an increasing number of, first, landscape paintings, and later, photographs. An important example is George Inness' painting, "The

PAGE 4

Lackawanna Valley". As well as making a pictorial recording of the inclusion of the invention in the life of the people, the artists also make social statements amout the impact of that invention. A second invention, the camera, is recorded in the dramas of the period. Similar to the railroad in the visual arts, the presence of the camera in drama attests to the importance and popularity of the invention. In addition to being present in plays of the period, the camera is given the task of deus ex iv machina and becomes a means of resolving the action as well as a cultural artifact. The impact of the scientific inventions is so great that several of them surpass the status of cultural symbol and become icons of power in a nation seeking ideas and symbols for its independent identity. inventions are seen as manifestations of the primary forces such as functionalism and efficiency as the new nation combines a machine economy with democratic institutions. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I rec ommend publication. Signed. ______________________________________ __ Faculty member in charge of thesis.

PAGE 5

v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS In addition to the committee members listed herein, I wish to gratefully acknowledge the guidance, assistance and encouragement of Dr. Celia Rabinovitch, of the Department of Fine Arts and Theatre, University of Colorado at Denver, and Peter Hackett, of the faculty of the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, Colorado. Nanette K. Simonds

PAGE 6

CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND lO III. PROGRESS INVADES THE PALETTE 22 IV. TECHNOLOGY COMES TO THE STAGE IN AMERICAN DRAMA 39 V. PHOTOGRAPHY IN FOCUS IN AMERICA: THE GROWTH OA A NEW S4. VI. CONCLUSION 62 BIBLIOGRAPHY 65 vi

PAGE 7

vii ILLUSTRATIONS Illustration 1. "Kindred Spirits" 2. "Mill Pond and Mills, Lowell, Massachusetts" 3. "The Lackawanna Valley" 4. "Starrucca Viaduct" 5. "Mirror Lake and Mount Watkins" 58 6. "The Famous Harper's Ferry at the Confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers"

PAGE 8

CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Since recorded time began man has struggled to explain his existance and the phenomena of his environment. He has left the record of this struggle in the arts such as painting and drama, and more recently, photography. The arts, being the expressive voice of a people at any given time in society's history, record the past, or invision the future. They become historical artifacts from which may be derived the issues and ideas of that society. Artists are searchers as well as recorders. Through their perception of the arts as communicative and expressive mediums, the artist gives manifestation to the creative power of which man is both and transmitter. Through his choice of subject matter, the artist lends distinction to the concerns of his era and also. reflects, in part, the market for his ideas. Some ideas are more prevelent and widespread in a society than are others. As a particular idea or set of ideas become accepted by a greater part of society, it can occupy the position of a cultural symbol or even an icon. The difference between

PAGE 9

cultural symbol and icon be explored with the purpose of showing that items of technology, with examples such as the camera and the railroad, became cultural icons in the time period under consideration. The purpose of this study is to obtain a better understanding of the forces that shaped American history and national identity and to document their manifestation through selected examples in the arts. With those ideas in mind, this paper will explore a major statement of American culture as recorded in the arts, particularly painting and draina, in the period 1840-1870; that is, technology was a cultural icon of power in America in the mid-nineteenth century, and, as such, this concept was one of the expressions of the developing American national identity. The years 1840-1870, just prior to and including the Civil War and its conclusion, have been referred to as a period of "coming of age," or a consolidation of a sense of national identity, for America as a As various elements such as political, economic, and philosophical were brought together, they sometimes came into conflict. A prime example, of course, is the Civil War itself. In addition to seeing various historical events in an attempt to formulate a nation's history, it is

PAGE 10

3 imperative also to observe the means by which conflicts are resolved. In the case of technology, with its various manifestations such as the invention of the telegraph, camera, and railroad, the meaning is inherent in both the item and the use given it. In The Arts in Modern American Civilization, Dr. John A. Kouwenhoven tells us that Men everywhere and at all times instinctively seek to arrange the elements of their environment in the patterns of sounds, shapes, colors and ideas which are aesthetically satisfying, and it is this instinct which underlies the creation of techniques and forms in which the.creative imagination of the artist finds expression.l Both the techniques and forms which identify _the development of American identity as a nation at this time are to be found in her primary art forms; it is_further imperative to discover the depth of acceptance of these forms and their importance. There is a significant difference to be perceived between a cultural symbol and a cultural icon, particularly in view of the fact that thii study contends that the various manifestations of technology surpassed the status of symbol and did, indeed, become icons. 1John A. Kouenhoven. The Arts in Modern American Civilization (New York: W.W.Norton & Co., 1967), p. 3.

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4 The basis for this contention is founded upon the requirement classification for icon as established by Dr. Erwin Panofsky in Meaning in the Visual Arts.2 The discussion is further clarified by comparing Dr. Panofsky's concepts to the definition of cultural symbols as given by Dr. Leo Marx in The Machine in the Garden.3 To summarize briefly, according to Dr. Marx, a cultural symbol is an "image that conveys a special meaning (thought and feeling) to a large number of those who share the culture".4 An icon, on the other hand, has the implication of being a religious image and conveys an implied power to those who believe in or have faith in it.S The latter meaning, icon, will be used in this study as it relates to the railroad and camera in America during the period 1840-1870. A third key term needs to be defined. Vernacular is used as defined by Dr. Kouwenhoven. 2Erwin Panofsky, Meaning in the Visual Arts (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982), pp. 26-29. 3Leo Marx The Machine in. The Garden (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964). 4Marx, Ibid. p. 4. 5The Oxford University Dictionary, Vol. V, 1933 ed., p. 12.

PAGE 12

5 in the work already cited and means a unique statement by a people in response to a particular environment, geographical and psychological, at a particular time. For relatively new Americans, it meant producing objects and meanings in a heretofore culturally unassimilated environment.6 However, certain cultural legacies did impact on the American experience of that time, and these legacies will be considered in the discussion. Reference is specifically made to the established forms upon which new statements were imposed. For example, new statements were made in the theatre but they were imposed upon classical theatrical formulas and devices. A similar situation existed in painting. A number of authots have explored the topic of the impact of technology on American history to some extent and we are indebted to several outstanding studies. Dr. Leo Marx, in the previously mentioned The Machine in the Garden,7 gives a broad overview of the 'invasion' of the American Eden by technology and provides a thorough discussion of the roots of the Arcadian and Edenic idea in American thought and culture. Dr. John A. Kouwenhoven in The Arts in 6Kouwenhoven, Ibid., p. 13. 7Marx, Ibid., 365 PP

PAGE 13

6 Modern American Civilization,8 presents one of the major works on the exploration of the development of the American vernacular and relates that development of technology to that statement. Dr. Rex Burns' Sucess in America,9 explores the impact of the yoeman concept to the social and economic development of the country and his study provides essential information for understanding the particular challenges of technology to that ideal. Additional works that providedd background information to the period and topic under study include The American Mind in the Mid-Nineteenth Century, by Dr. Irving H. Bartlett,1 0 The Search for a Usable Past, by Henry Steele Commanger,ll and Paths of American Thought, a collection of readings edited by Arthur M. Schlessinger, Jr., and Morton White.12 Robert Taft's book, Photography and the American 8Kouwenhoven, Ibid. 9Rex Burns, Sucess on America (Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press, 1967). 10Irving H. Bartlett, The American Mind in the Mid-Nineteenth Century (Northbrook, IL: AHM Publishing Corporation, 1967). 11Henry Steele Commanger, The Search for a Past (New York: Alfred A. Knoph, 1967). 12Arthur M. Schlessinger, Jr., and Morton White, Paths of American Thought (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1963).

PAGE 14

7 Scene,13 is one of the major books on the history and impact of photography on American life and thought to date. A study of this type should be able to answer the question, "What contribution will be made by this endeavor?" Although several other studies have come close to the topic and and admit that technology is an integral part of our national identity, none has dealt with items of technology as icons of power in our society at a particular time, and as such, was vested with power by that society. It is important to observe and acknowledge this statement and to reflett on its implications, particularly with regard to its roots and its meaning for the future of America. Primary sources of this concept are to be found in paintings such as "The Lackawanna Valley", 1855, by George Inness,14 and "Starrucca Viaduct", 1865, by Jasper Cropsey,15 and in photographs-such as "The Famous Harpers Ferry at the Confluence of the Potomac ---------13Robert Taft, Photography and the American Scene(New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1964). 14Alfred Werner, Inness Landscapes (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1977), p. 25. 15John Wilmerding, American Art (New York, Penguin Books, 1976), Plate 97.

PAGE 15

8 and Shenandoah Rivers", 1865, by James Gardner.l6 In drama, one of the most prominent examples is to be found in The Octoroon, by Dion Boucicault;17 in addition, Fashion, by Anna Mowatt Ritchie,18 and Shenandoah, by Bronson Howard,1 9 are also relevant. A major discussion of the impact of technology and its conflict with nature, or faith, is included in the chapter entitled "The Dynamo and the Virgin" in Henry Adams' autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams; material is drawn from this source in support of this study.20 This study will not attempt to explore the impact of this topic throughout all of American life in the mid-nineteenth century, but will be confined to the essential conflict that existed between the 16Taft, Ibid., p . 239. 17Dion Bocicault. "The Octoroan" in Representative American Plays (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953), pp. 269-398. 18Anna Mowatt Ritchie, "Fashion" in Representative American Plays (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953), pp. 277-321. 19Brons9n Howard, "Shenandoah" in American Plays York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc.,. 1953), pp. 475-512. 20Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (New York: The Modern Libraary, 1931), 505 pp.

PAGE 16

established ideas about nature, including faith and tha roots of that faith, and the challenge to it by science as manifested in technological inventions. 9 Therefore, in order-to achieve the goal of establishing the idea that the various manifestations of technology were icons, let us recognize that the ideas ahout nature, the elements of art and drama, and the means for resolving problems are significant ingredients. The topics and their interrelationships will be explored in succeeding chapters.

PAGE 17

CHAPTER II HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Gradually breaking social, economic and political ties with its European roots in the early nineteenth century, the United States sought objects, symbols and icons for national self-identification. The search was evident in all the arts: including painting, literature, and drama. The history of the United States is a progression toward a new definition of faith, notwithstanding its religious origins. Progressively freeing itself from earlier constraints or traditional modes and methods of thinking, the to establish a national identity based on the facts of technology in combination with democracy is consistently manifested in its cultural voice. Accelerated during the Jacksonian era (election: 1828), American politics was characterized by an age of unfolding national optimism, progress and self-determination. After the War of 1812, a livelier period of trade and .population growth took place than ever before. By 1840, the United States had survived the War of the Revolution, the War of 1812, and more than a

PAGE 18

11 half-century of self-rule. The hostile wilderness that had greeted and nearly destroyed the first settlers had been cleimed along the eastern seaboard and a modicum of civilization had been established. The new society carried with it a legacy of the past but was set down in a relatively new environment. The new nation had begun its economic growth. The importance of nature in the American ideology cannot be overstated. With roots in a combination of both the Arcadian and Edenic ideals, the American land held an unprecedented promise of freedom, peace and plenty. To begin with, let us trace the importance of nature in American history and then see its conflict with technology. We shall pay particular attention to the means by which the conflict is met. For example, even further back than the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the historical roots of the significance of the American landscape can be traced to classical times, even pre-dating, but not ignoring, the Edenic ideal of the Bible. The Roman poet Virgil is said to be the originator of the idea of pastoral perfection by describing the most enchanting dream which has ever consoled mankind, the myth of a Golden Age in

PAGE 19

which man lived on the fruits of the earth, peacefully, piously and with primitive simplicity".1 Virgil invented Arcadia, "any place or region thought to epitomize rustic contentment and simplicity",2 or an area exemplified by a natural fullness of life and unspoiled by man-made objects, although man himself is often present. Examples of this idyllic landscape idea in the classical artistic mode are "A Road Near Albano" by Poussin, "Philemon and Baucus" by Reubens, and "View Near Harlem" by von Ruisdale. They are characterized by a horizontal format and a benevolent natural environment. The implications of this legacy for the new nation were enormous. Coupled with the idea of the Garden of Eden from the Bible, the pastoral ideal was one of the images that enticed settlers to the New World. The development of painting was first an imitation of Eurpoean subjects and styles; the artists of Colonial America were generally 1Kenneth Clark, Landscape Into Art (New Harper and Row, Publishers, 1979), p. 109. 2William Morris, Ed., The American Heritage Dictionary of the English (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976), p. 67. 12

PAGE 20

13 portraitists who recorded the political, social and economic 'aristocracy' of the new nation. Often .the backgrounds of these portraits included Rembrantian darkness to offset the likeness of the subject. Many adopted the style of Renaissance portraiture with the cut-away window showing small areas of terrain owned by the portrait subject as a means of indicating his possessions and status. It was not until the early nineteenth century that rendering the American landscape became a school of painting for its own sake, and this is directly correlative to America's awakening interest in her growth as an independent nation with a distinct geography of her own. In addition to the efforts of our own American artists, European artists and writers came to see and record the land and the efforts of the nation. Their impression is well summarized by the Englishman John Hill, who in 1830 wrote the introduction to his book, Picturesque Views of American Scenery: "In no quarter of the globe are the majesty and loveliness of nature more strikingly conspicuous than in America".3 Hill also wrote: The vast regions which are comprised in or 3John Wilmerding, American Art (New York: Penguin Books, 1976), p. 75.

PAGE 21

14 subjected to the republic present to the eye every variety of the beautiful and .sublime Striking however and original as the features of nature undoubtedly are in the United States, they have rarely been made the subjects of pictoral delineation America only, of all the countries of civilized man, is unsung and undescribed.4 Coincident with the Jacksonian era came the call and the response for America's flrst school of nature painting. The founding of the new republic, and its subsequent growth and expansion, had stimulated a need for national history and art at home, and an awareness of the country and its resources both at home and abroad. A unique American vernacular developed as nature and science met in the battle for the resolution of economic conflicts such as slavery and national expansion. Several sets of conflicts presented themselves: nature versus science, religious versus secular thought; Old World artifices versus New World naturalness. The conflict was intensified as the nation tried to continue to look eastward to Europe for example and approval, and at the same time, to march westward for territorial expansion and independence. The technology which developed out of the Industrial Revolution challenged existing beliefs,

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15 particularly the reverence for nature. It also challenged the foundation of that reverence, particularly religious views since the idea was based on the concept of the Garden of Eden as found in the Bible and as perceived as being manifested in the providential hand of God in placing the settlers in the bountiful, pure and unexplored new land. The age of Reformation which saw the first American pilgrims seeking religious and political freedoms gave way to the Age of Enlightenment and its Lockean ideal of an integrated nature, man and society. A 'middle landscape' of wedding nature and science emerged for awhile with such proponents as Thomas Jefferson. Eventually_ the balance was tipped and science achieved the ascendency. The struggle and eventual resolution is recorded in art, drama and photography, and in the writings of American men of letters such as. Henry Adams. In 1900 Henry Adams, son and grandson of American presidents, and himself an historian, teacher, and philosopher, viewed the Great Exposition of 1900 in Paris. Following his curiosity as he had done at the Chicago Exposition of 1893, he once again sought out the scientific exhibits.

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16 Previously, as a medieval historian at Harvard, Adams had long been familiar with the force of the Virgin in history. While not a disciple of that force, he nonetheless admitted and documented the scope of that force through history. Now, as an observer and of American history and the forces which shaped it, he pondered the force potential of the electrical dynamos on display there. He was fascinated. Adams concluded that true science "is the development or economy of and that he saw it as a symbol of infinity and he began "to feel the forty-foot dynamos as a moral force, much as the early Christians felt the Adams goes on to tell us that The planet itself seemed less impressive, in its old-fashioned, deliberate, annual or daily revolution, than this huge wheel, revolving within arm's-length at some vertiginous speed Before the end, one began to pray to it; inherited instinct taught the natural expression ofman before silent and infinite force. Among the thousand symbols of ultimate energy, the dynamo was not so human as some, but it was the most expressive.7 5Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (New York: The Modern Library, 1931), p. 379. 6 Ibid., p. 380. 7 Ibid.

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17 He then relates his impressions to that of his thoughts as an historian: Satisfied that the sequence of man 1 d to nothing the sequence of their society could lead no further, while the mere sequence of time was artificial, and the sequence of thought was chaos, he turned at last to the sequence of force.8 and he concluded: The year 1900 was not the first to upset schoolmasters. Copernicus and Galileo had broken many professional necks about 1600; Columbus had stood the world on its head towards 1500; but the nearest approach to the revolution of 1900 was that of 310, when Constantine set up the Cross.? Adams then attempts to resolve the conflict which had developed in the mid-nineteenth century and which he perceived in his reflections in 1900. Briefly summarized, he concludes by stating that "by action on man all known force may measured",1 0 and he tells that "The historian's was to follow the track of the energy; to find where it came from and where it went to; its complex source and shifting channels; its values, equivalents, conversions".11 B:rbid., p. 382. 9:rbid. p. 383. 10rbid., p. 388. 11Ibid.' p. 389.

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18 In a more recent work, the subject of forces and their manifestation in American life is dealt with by John A. Kouwenhoven in his book The Arts in Modern American Civilization, first published in 1946. He states the concern and conflict of energies and their manifestation through the examination of what he describes as the 'cultivated' and the 'vernacular' styles, or the influence of European art ideas as compared to American technological design on the culture of the United States. Kouwenhoven tells us that Men everywhere and at all times instinctively .seek to arrange the elements of their environment in patterns of sound, colors and ideas which are aesthetically and it is this instinct which underlies the creation of and forms in which the creative imagination of the artist finds expression. 12 Responding to the challenge that America had "civilization but not culture"}3 he sets forth to continue what Adams began: an analysis of the roots of our particular vernacular and its synthesis into expression. Kouwenhoven begins by reminding us that It is time we considered the frequently crude but vigorous forms in which the untutored creative 12John A. Kouwenhoven, The Arts in Modern American Civilization (New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 19. 6 7) p. 3. 13 Ibid., p. 12.

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19 instinct sought to pattern the new environment. It is in this unpretentious material that we may find the clearest expression of the vital impulses upon which the future of modern civilization depends.14 In order to define the American vernacular, we look to Dr. Kouwenhoven. He tells us that The forms we have so long neglected are in reality the products of a unique kind of folk art, created under conditions which had never before existed. They represent the unself-conscious efforts of common people, in America and elsewhere, to create satisfying patterns out of the elements of a new and culturally unassimilated environment. IS He further clarified this vernacular as the art of sovereign, even if uncultivated, people rather than of groups cut off from the main currents of contemporary life. The patterns it evolved were not those which are inspired by ancient traditions of race or class; on the contrary, they were imposed by the driving energies of an unprecedented social structure. In their least diluted form these patterns comprise the folk arts of the first people in history who, disinherited of a great cultural tradition, found themselves living under democratic institutions in an expanding machine economy.16 In short The men and women who built a civilization in the American wilderness had to relearn a truth which many of their European contemporaries had been able to get along without: the truth of 14Ibid., p. 13. 15Ibid. 16Ibid., p. 13.

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function. They had to become familiar with the nature of materials and the use of tools.17 Dr. Kouwenhoven further explains the rise of American technology as the dominant, motivating force during the growth of our country. Because of the coincidence of time and idea, the sleek functionalism of the machine came to have a beauty of its own, and 20 although we have tried, from time to time, to cling to the cultivated tradition and to translate it to our shores, it lacked the potency of being of our experience. Thus, Dr. Kouwenhoven gives expression to the concern that Adams had with the American lack of imvolvement with the either of the Virgin (a sacred heritage) or of Venus (the secular heritage) as motive forces. What he is telling us, either through his descriptive history of architecture, engineering, machinery, or the growing Americanization of the arts, is that just as the braces first hold up and then fall away as a rocket leaves the launch pad at Cape Kennedy, so did the. cultivated tradition of western civilization first give support to and then was pushed away as we developed our own indiginous experiences and manifestations. 17Ibid.

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21 These manifestations are to be found in the visual arts beginning with the Hudson River School painting.

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CHAPTER III PROGRESS INVADES THE PALETTE Looking back at the nineteenth century from the vantage point of 1904, Henry.Adams wrote: Impossibilities no longer stood in the way. One's life moved on impossibilities. Before the boy was six years old (1844), he had seen four impossibilities made actual--the ocean steamer, the railway, and the electric telegraph, and the Dagureotype; nor could he ever learn which of the four had hurried the others to come.l The new inventions soon found their way into the national vernacular and were quickly recorded by its artists. The new tradition was begun by artists such as Benjamin West and Thomas Cole. West in particular began setting his portraits of American heroes in contemporary dress and recognizable settings rather than those of ancient history as had been the manner of painting borrowed from European styles. Painting in the decades just prior to the nineteenth century and beginning to break with those European styles and models, West also initiated qualities peculiar to American art: the preference for factuality and the almost scientific concern for the .physical world, and the early graphic tradition 1Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (New York: The Modern Library, 1931), p. 494.

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characterized by linear and tonal sharpness".2 Into this combination of fledgling tradition and contemporary situation stepped Thomas Cole (1801-1848), founder of the Hudson River School. It was Cole who "most influentially articulated the polarities in American painting between recording and interpreting nature".3 It was Cole who led other American artists from the former style of classical "Claudian implications (of) gentle, pastoral, civilized Old World landscapes"4 into a drive toward 23 topographic depiction. They further redefined the art of painting according to the new American vernacular. Specifically, the artists of the Hudson River School portrayed the uniquely American attitude toward reality. Cole's works are devoid of technology but it is important to observe his painting since he popularized American landscape painting and brought before the public the most distinctive and most impressive characteristic of American scenery, its wilderness. 2John Wilmerding, American Art (New York: Penguin Books, 1976), p. 78. 3 I bid p 7 8, 4David Rand, "Charmed Places" in Horizon, April 1988, p. 16.

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The American wilderness was equated with the naturalness of the Arcadian scenes of Virgil and of the Biblical Garden of Eden. Both elements are important but the latter one is especially so as an element of our native aesthetic, including harmony and order and the providential hand of God in placing the American settlers in this modern-day land of bounty and goodness. John Wilmerding, author of American Art, in speaking of the 1830's, declares that "The thoroughly American branch of painting, based upon the facts and 5 tastes of the country and people, is the landscape", and further states: It was during this same period that nature came to be identified with American history painting, becoming the new vehicle for moral imperatives, spiritual inspiration, and didactic formulas. The experience of the wilderness, with its purity and beauty, was associated with pride in a new political order and in a regenerative power believed distinct from the corruptions and age of European civilizations. American painters went out into nature with the reverential attitude of pilgrims; their mission was to define for their public the native character of American geography and its revelation of God's presence. One therefore sketched from recognizable locales, while imaginatively selecting portions for compositional synthesis that would illustrate a higher 'spiritual design1.6 5Ibid., p. 93. 6Ibid., p. 77. 24

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25 This description is exemplified by Asher B. Durand's painting, "Kindred Spirits", and the painting contains the elements Cole held as imperative in constituting the American wilderness. These elements as set forth in Cole's work "Essay on American Scenery"7 (1835), includes mountains, foliage, and sky. Mountains, Cole said, exemplify the sublime, the magnificent, the grandeur of the scene. Water, the 'voice' of the landscape, almost as expressive as the presence of the mountains, allowed a complete range of moods, from the contemplative placid lake to the active coursing stream to the sublime force of a waterfall such as Niagra Falls which was revered and often painted and written about at this time. Foliage, particularly in the autumn, was the third element cited by Cole and it was capable of calling attention to degrees of age, the passage of time, or the singular beauty of divine handwork. Finally, sky could speak to many feelings whether it was the serenity of summer's blue sky or the dark tumult of a storm. 7Thomas Cole. "Essay on American Scenery" in American Art From the Colonial Era to the Present (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1980), pp. 82-90.

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26 -------------1. Asher B. Durand: Kindred Spirits.

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"Kindred Spirits"8 embodies all of these elements. Stately mountains tower on both sides and across the background, giving the viewer a protected valley softened by mellow, autumnal foliage and small waterfalls feeding a pleasant stream. A warm afternoon sky softens the vista which includes the figures of Cole and William Cullen Bryant standing on a rocky precipice overlooking the benevolent woodland valley. 27 The title "Kindred Spirits" is indicative of both the relationship between the painter Cole and the poet Bryant, and also the harmonious relationship between man and nature, and between all and God. latter is an important statement of the period. In confronting the problem of pictorially establishing the relationships between the two men, and the. men with nature, the artist has resolved the problem with artistic resources. The artist had manifest the theme of kindred spirits through the proximity of the two men to each other and also in the landscape by depicting a gentle harmony between foreground and distance, and by the of the environment, such as rocks, water, and foliage, 8Wilmerding, Ibid., plate 95.

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28 in a gentle and natural placement. Selected elements such as the gently intertwined trees on the left provide a vertical foil for the human figures, and they are parallel to the rock formations and mountains. The autumnal color scheme selected by the artist enhances the harmonious mood. Another of Cole's own paintings, "The Oxbow" (1836), contains many of the same elements. It also exemplifies the characteristic of artists at this time who painted recognizable locales. "The Oxbow", for example, is subtitled, "The Connecticut River Near Northampton". Cole articulated the national vision both in paint and in words. His purpose was to unveil American nature, for he saw, as did his countrymen, an "inseperable connection between the beautiful and the good".9 The painters of the Hudson River School, notably John Fredrick Kensett, Albert Bierstadt, Inness, Fredrick Edwin Church, and Cole himself, left behind a of America the modern, unspoiled, providential Garden of Eden However, as early as 1847 the concern with the invasion of thei Eden was recorded by a critic viewing 9r b i d P 1 7

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29 the pictures of Jasper F. Cropsey, a Follower of Cole: The ax of civilization is busy with our old forests, and artisan ingenuity is fast sweeping away the relics of our national infancy Yankee enterprise has little sympathy with the picturesque, and it behooves our artists to rescue from its grasp the little that is left, before it is too late.lO The American artist did continue to 'rescue' the pristine wilderness, and a few also started to perceive and portray the encroaching agents of civilization. Yankee enterprise, especially in the form of the railroad and factory, were being felt by mid-century. It began as a romance with technology and grew toward a disquiet with the possible destructive capacity of the machine, as the century advanced. One of the earliest landscape paintings to record the change from idyllic landscape to that of the encroachment of technology into the landscape is "Mill Pond and Mills, Lowell, Massachusetts", by Thomas Doughty. 11 Painted in 1833, it presents man as small in scale compared to both nature (trees) and man-made buildings. The natural setting retains a llihid., p. 85. 12:rbid., plate 87.

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. . ... : t .: "!' : ;_ 2. Thomas Doughty: Mill Pond Mills, Lowell, Massachusetts. 30

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sense of stillness and beauty in contrast to the implied busyness and productivity of the mills. 31 Though man is small in scale to both the trees and the factory building, and man placed lower in the picture plane, the latter is of slightly larger size, as though in some sort of uneasy balance to the other. The man, in a boat on the placid water pond seems shielded by nature (i.e., the large tree in the center middle ground) for the time being, but the relative larger size of the factory to the tree gives an ominous quality to the picture. The entire canvas is a sequence of contrasts, such as natural trees and man-made architecture, light and dark forms, placid and moving waters. These contrasts are especially appropriate as symbols of the coming changes, as technology invaded the garden and brought forward another component of American character--its desire for newness, practicality and functionalism. Though the Americans felt their forefathers had been led by divine providence into a land of space and abundance, they also carried with them a high degree of self-reliance, self-identity, and self-determination. The earlier landscape painters had attempted to acquire the land by traveling through it and rendering its likeness.

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32 Now the land would be acquired by possession more physical than spiritual. Like Doughty, George Inness was a later member of the Hudson River School. His painting, some twenty years later, "The Lackawanna Valley",12 embodies three of the major elements proffered by Cole: mountains, foliage, sky. Only water is missing. (Is tranquility departing?) This picture also retains the horizontal picture plane, underscored by the partially reclining figure. However, in comparison to Doughty's painting with the factory on the right side of the painting, Inness places the advancing locomotive almost at the center with both the passive observing figure and largest manifestation of in the foreground, the tree, off to the left. The roundhouse and railroad company's buildings are present in the distance. A number of tree trunks are shown in the center foreground and imply the loss of nature to the construction of the railroad (possibly for railroad ties!). All three of the foreground, middle-ground, and background areas parallel the horizon and contribute to the of harmony and tranquility 12Alfred Werner, Inness: Landscapes (New York: Watson-Guptil Publications, 1977), p 25.

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33 3. George Inness The Lackawanna Valley.

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34 used by landscape painters, but the train is set at a moderate diagonal, and implies an intrusion into the balance that is both pictorial and psychological. It bisects the picture plane, providing an even greater image of intrusion than does the factory building in Doughty's picture. The resolution of the formal elements of the painting also gives implication to the statement made by the painting; that is, line is a formal element of painting, in this painting the artist uses the diagonal as a suggestion of movement or change as compared to horizontal or vertical lines with their implication of stability and continuance. Just as industrialism and technology are making their march into American history, so does Inness' train invade the peaceful Lackawanna Valley. A major cultural symbol of American technology, the railroad, had now taken center stage in American landscape painting. As Bruner states, "Nature was no longer the primary source of inspiration; rather it was man and his invented symbols".13 A third example is "Starruca Viaduct" by Jasper Cropsey.14 John Wilmerding gives a description 13Louise Bruner, "Religious Themes in American Art" in American Artist, December 1980, P 79. 14Wilmerding, Ibid., plate 97.

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35 .. ... ;;."":'" 4 0 Jasper Cropsey: Starrucca Viaduct.

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36 of this painting: Man's industry (in both senses) is evident here still as an emblem of American power and growth. The machine for now embodies and confirms possession of the wilderness. It remains a small and romantic counterpoint to the surrounding as is clear from the contemplative distance imposed between the small figure in the .foreground and the rail viaduct, and from the proximity of the train's puffs of steam to the clouds crowning the mountain above. The energies of the train and landscape are for the moment in harmony.1.S Painted in 1865 at the close of the Civil War, "Starruca Viaduct" contained the tradition established by Cole by framing the scene with trees and giving central position to the mountain. Similar in composition to "The Lackawanna Valley", the train bisects the middle-ground of the picture, and like Durand's "Kindred Spirits", two figures are placed on the rock promontory on the left side as they passively contemplate the view before them. In each of the three paintings, the human is inactive, contemplative and passive. The main difference is that the viaduct in Cropsey's painting crosses nearly the entire canvas in the middle-ground. This placement puts it in harmonious parallel to the horizontal composition of the painting. The autumnal coloring and natural setting which includes Cole's 15Ibid., p. 185.

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requirements of mountains, water, foliage, and sky, help reinforce the continuation of the romantic approach of nineteenth century America toward the introduction of technology. 37 The key to understanding the statement made by these three paintings is that the means by which the artist arrived at the resolution of the artistic problems is an indicator of the statement being made. That is, the of the painting depends upon the interrelationship of the various formal artistic elements such as line, color texture, and format . The statement indicated by the foregoing artists was basically that of a changing reality, from pastoral and ideal to industrial and disturbed. The formal element of line is used decisively and eloquently. In Durand's painting, the simple verticals and horizontals combine to achieve a sense of harmony and balance. Doughty and Cropsey, however, introduce strong diagonals bisecting the middle-ground of the picture plane. Doughty uses a mild diagonal right through the foreground with the edge of the water pond; the locomotive in Inness' landscape approaches on an even stronger diagonal into the center of the painting. A diagonal line indicates an incomplete motion; it is neither a complete vertical

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or a complete horizontal. It is disruptive an an intrustion of the basic harmony of the painting. 38 Through the use of both subject matter and formal artistic elements, the landscape painters of the mid-nineteenth century recorded and commented upon the changing reality of American life and the establishment of the American vernacular.

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CHAPTER IV TECHNOLOGY COMES TO THE STAGE IN AMERICAN DRAMA At mid-century the issues of industrialization and slavery were foremost. A lack of resolution of these issues cast a shadow across the American Garden of Eden. Though the problems of the Industrial Revolution were not limited to the United States, here,it was combined with the doctrine of democracy it took on. a special identity. The factory system threatened the yoeman dream of competence, independence and moralityl by pushing great numbers of American workers into anonymous labor and surrender of economic independence and personal freedom. Nevertheless, the tide of technology was sweeping the country and, in addition to its depiction in paintings and photographs, it was also included in some of its most popular dramas, such as the Octoroon. Though often used as an example of anti-slavery sentiment and melodrama as an art form, The Octoroon includes an even more significant statement about American Culture in the 1850's: the growing dependence on technology for the resolution of problems. lRex Burns, Sucess In America (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1976), p. 1.

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40 The Octoroon includes classical dramatic elements just as the Hudson River School of painting had included classical artistic elements. The Octoroon includes the traditional Aristotelian elements of plot, character, setting, theme, music and spectacle. It also includes an additional element, the theatrical convention termed deus ex machina. The importance of this element is seen when comparing Euripides' play Medea with Dian Boucicault's play The Octoroon. By this comparison a new awareness of the importance of resolution of conflict by society at a given time can be obtained. Deus ex machina is a type of traditional theatrical convention which is based on an agreement between the audience and the actor (or playwright), and it can range within a whole set of tacit understandings that form the context of playwatching. Robert Cohen tells us that can be such as 'when the curtain goes up, the play begins; when the curtain comes down, the play is over".2 There is an additional means by which a theatrical convention can have importance to a play and that is the agreement by the audiente (sometimes representing a whole society) and the playwright about the manner 2Robert Theatre (Irvine, California: University of California, 1981), p. 33.

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in which the play is presented or the conflict resolved. To be more specific, it is understood that in a society at a given time, the resolution of the conflict will be in accordance with certain mutually understood conventions of thought. For a demonstration of this, we shall examine the means by which resolution is achieved in two different theatrical eras, and to do this, we shall use the Greek .play Medea, by Euripides,3 written .in 431 B.C., and American play, The Octoroon, by Dian Boucicault,4 written in 1859. In the age of Euripides tha Greek philosophy held that gods and goddesses had powers far and above those of mortals and that they were interested in mortals and often intervened in their affairs. In drama, it presented a means for resGlving a problem. Oftentimes a logical resolution seemed apparent, but in keeping with their _preception of the illogic of human affairs, this arbitrary action of the gods seemed plausible and expected. This is seen in Medea. After an introduction 3Euripides, "Medea" in Seven Famous Greek Plays (New York: Vintage Books, 1950), pp. 286-338. 4Dion Boucicault, Octoroon" in Representative American Plays (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953), pp. 369-398. 41

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42 that explains the actions which took place before the play opens, and the building of the play to its climax, it appears that Medea, for all her mistreatment, real or imagined, at the hands of Jason, is to be banished to Corinth and that any means of escape for her has been eliminated. However, as Jason and his men rush to the doors of the house where he believes Medea to be, we are told that Medea appears above the house in a chariot drawn by a dragon and makes her escape. The gods, either arbitrarily or sympathetically, have intervened, and it is demonstrated on stage by the utilization of a mechanical crane which allowed an actor, in the guise of a god, to be placed on stage as though descending from the sky to enter the action of the play for the purpose.of resolving the problem. This is a clear manifestation of the of the people at that time to put the resolution on the responsibility of someone or something outside themselves as they attempt to deal with their existence and physical phenomena. According to The Penguin Dictionary of the Theatre, dues ex machina means: Literally a god from a machine, come to sort out the action of a play at the end. T _he machine used in greek theatre to give actors the

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appearance of flying, but the term was later applied to the chariots in which deities would descend in the Baroque theatre. The phrase is used now figuratively, of a character who arrives from outside the main action of a play at its end and sets matters to rights.S 43 Let us expand on this definition and include a thing as well as a character which arrives to set 'matters to rights'. C. J. Gianakaris, in Foundations of Drama, further defines deus ex machina in its original usage and also applies it to modern drama. He tells us: The magical flying chariot drawn by the (in Medea) is a typical deus ex machina. Literaly this means god of the machine, because some diety would be lowered mechanically into the play area of the theatre to resolve arbitrarily the dilemma of the protagonist. Therefore, the denouement does not evolve naturally from the action; instead, they reflect the approval of the gods. Otherwise here it can be deduced that Medea could not possibly have escaped from Corinth . In contemporary drama, a deus ex machina is any device used to help the hero out of an impossible situation.6 In the first half of the nineteenth century in the United States, dramatic literature was essentially a copy of the main currents of European drama, particularly that of England. This situation is comparable to the visual arts at the same time. 5John Russell Taylor, The Penguin Dictionary of the Theatre (New York: Penguin Books, 1966), p. 83. 6c. J. Gianakaris, Foundations of Drama (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975), p. 49.

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44 In addition, copyright laws were not yet enacted that protected ideas from being plagiarized or ensured that royalties were paid. It was a common practice to 'steal' a popular plot and re-work it for presentation. The use of deus ex machina had been retained but up-dated. At this time in American history, it increasingly became the machine, and in particular, in drama, photography, which entered the scene as a scientific or mechanical means for resolving the plot. We have seen that the Greeks believed their gods and goddesses would intervene from outside the action as a manifestation of their philosophy. It also tells us that they believed in polytheism. To the Americans of the mid-nineteenth century, one of their 'gods' seems to have become the machine of his Industrial Revolution. In whatever guise it appeared, it was expected to solve his problems and resolve his dilemmas. It was both his invention and his aid. In The Octoroon, the resolution is achieved through an up-dated version of the deus ex machina. Before we go on to a fuller exploration of The Octoroon, let us compare the genres of both plays. Medea is a classical tragedj with a universal issue, justice, and significant characters, Jason, Medea and the royalty of their peers.

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45 The Octoroon is an example of melodrama, with the problem of protecting the family plantation as the dominant action. In addition, it carries with it a strong anti-slavery message. The characters are the new 'aristocracy' of American life, its plantation owners, as well as working class people, slaves and native Indians. It cuts a broad swath across the new democratic society and is an appropriate vehicle of the American vernacular. Further comparisons can be made. Euripides, among other theatrical virtues, had a sense of the dramatic possibilities of an individual scene and an ability to use dramatic innovation to reinterpret the traditional legends upon which all the dramatisists relied for their material. He also believed in ethical problems, in human beings face to face with the pain and evil of human life, as they exhibit now strength and now pathetic weakness. Although he never consistantly formulates his ideas concerning the gods or the superhuman elements in the universe, he nevertheless seems to believe that they exist and are relavant to human life in some way or other.7 We know that American drama, from its inception, had strong roots in European heritage. Gradually, the characters and settings in American drama assumed more and more American 7whitney J. Oates and Eugene O'Neill, Jr., Seven Famous Greek Plays (New York: Vintage Books, 1950), p. xix.

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46 characterizations, and the elements of drama, including scenery, costuming and properties, came to exhibit more and more of the local and regional decor of the times, much the same way that West painted his subjects in local and modern clothing, and Cole painted recognizable landscapes. The issues were to have an important impact on the playwright Dion Boucicault. He was an Irishman by birth and had had considerable experience in theatre in England before coming to the United States in 1852. An earlier play, London Assurance, had been well recived, and Boucicault, a prolific playwright (with a reputation for 'borrowing' plots), as well as an actor and director, was well aware of. the popularity of melodrama in America.8 Like Euripides, Boucicault was exeraordinarily sensitive to ideas that captivated the audiences of his day, and he saw the potential dramatic marriage of melodrama and technology. As he had often done in the past, Boucicault 'borrowed' part of the plot and some of the characters from a book and made it ready for the American stage. In his introduction to the play, Arthur Hobson Quinn tells us that an additional element was also borrowed: "The device of the 8Richard Fawkes, Dion Boucicault (London: Quartet Books, 1979).

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accidental photographing of the murder of Paul is found in The Filibuster, an English novel by Anthony Fonblanque (1859)".9 47 In briefly reviewing the plot of The Octoroon, we find that the Peytons are about to loose their plantation, Terrabonne. The deceased Judge Peyton, either out of misplaced trust or naivete, mortgaged the property and then died. His widow and his nephew George seem no better prepared to handle the situation than was the late Judge. The villaneous McClosky, a formar overseer of Terrebonne, holds one of the mortgages. He desires the young octoroon, Zoe, who is beautiful, good, kind and noble. The natural daughter of the late Judge and a slave of the plantation, Zoe is in love with George, but she realizes they can never be married because of southern laws and attitudes about mixed marraiges. Salem Scudder also holds one of the mortgages on the plantation. He is a stock character of his time and an example Of the developing American identity. Basically good and honest, somewhat homespun with a noble he 'tinkers' with things in the way of the inventive and ingenious 9Arthur Hobson Quinn, Representative Americaa Plays (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofyf, Inc., 1953) p. 372.

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48 Americans It said of him that he fools with improvements--anything from a stay-lace to a fire engine. Well, he cut that for the photographing line."10 There are two possibilities for saving the plantation and the way of life exemplified by the Peytons. One is for a letter of credit to arrive from London. A large sum of money is owed to the Judge or his heirs. The alternative solution is for George to deny good and natural love for Zoe and marry the heiress Dora Dora wants George even though she does realize the financial situation of Terrebonne. Undoubtedly, the more honorable solution is the arrival of the money and a resolution to this level of the plot is provided. In Act II, Paul, a 13-year old colored boy of the plantation, watches Scudder take Dora's picture with his new-fangled camera. Paul miscalls it a telescope, giving it the name of an implement more familiar to him He watches Scudder, thus obtaining, he thinks, the procedure for its use, and, of course his fascination with the device had been aroused. lOBoucicault, Ibid., p. 376.

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49 Paul's friend, an American Indian, Wahnotee, wants rum. Paul knows where the rum is, and, with the promise of rum, he entices Wahnotee to take off the lens cap, run to a distant tree and back again to then replace the lens cap. Paul has estimated that this action will be the appropriate amount of time for exposure to take his picture. The villain McClosky re-enters the situation at this time. He has just came across information that the boat from England has docked and the long-awaited letter of credit is close at hand. It is, in fact, in the saddlebag on which little Paul is sitting. Wahnotee had laid down his tomahawk for the run to the tree. McClosky, not seeing Wahnotee, picks up the tomahawk, runs toward Paul, kills him, and stands in Paul's place in front of the camera as he tears open the saddlebag and finds the letter. Unknown to McClosky, his picture is taken with the evidence around 'him. McClosky steals away. Wahnotee returns to find his little friend Paul dead, blames the strange contraption--the camera--and smashes it. To briefly summarize, the camera and its incriminating plate are discovered in the nick of time and the plantation is saved. The evil are punished and the good are rewarded, with the exception of Zoe. She, in noble effort to repay the Peytons for years

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50 of love and care and to protect George, poison and dies. It is a sad but noble solution to that part of the plot, and one that was consistent with contemporary social and political realism in 1859. The essential point is, that new invention, the camera, provides the resolution of the main plot, and it is a contemporary technological device rather than the actions of the gods that brings American drama in line with realism as it was perceived at that time. In The Octoroon, as in American life in the 1850s, art and science are wed. Correlative to the several paintings cited which documented American in railroads and included them as subject matter, and in further recognition of the importance of the and photography as a topic, we can cite additional examples of its inclusion in American drama during this time. One of the first was Fashion, a dramatic social satire, by Anna Mowatt Ritchie.11 It was first produced in New York in 1845, just two years after the introductiori of the Daguerreotype into this country. that setting is one of the six llAnna Mowatt Ritchie, "Fashion" in Representative American Plays (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1053), pp. 277-312.

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51 Aristotelian elements of drama, it is important to observe that an album is given as part of the stage directions for Fashion. The play is set in New York and the directions are given as follows: "Act First. Scene I. A splendid room in the house of Mrs. Tiffany mirror, couches, ottomans, a table with albums, beside it an arm chair".12 To be fashionable, as Mrs. Tiffany aspired to do, one would be expected to have an album visible in the parlor. Another example of the of the item can be found in Bronson Howard's Produced in 1888 but based on an earlier play of 1868, Shenandoah represents a typical Civil War play. It is set in Charleston harbor in 1861, and the time of the first scene, we are told, is "after the ball".14 Shenandoah includes the intricacies of Civil War loyalties and intrigues, but for our interest, a secondary plot has to do with the minature (a Daguerreotype) presented by General Haverhill to his second wife on the occasion of their marraige in 1855. By the wording given to us by the playwright we know 12Ibid., p. 238. 13Bronson Howard, "Shenandoah" in Representative American Plays (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953), pp. 473-512. 14Ibid., 479.

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52 it was a photographic miniature and not a painted one, the art form which would have proceeded it. The deepens as the miniature moves from hand to hand, to the confusion and distress of the General. In.short, before the plot is resolved the relationship of the General and his new wife is almost destroyed. But in the end, all is explained, particularily the circumstances of the Daguerreotype, and the marraige is saved, as is the union. Bronson Howard, the playwright of Shenandoah, capitalized on the popularity of photography for the success of his play, as hadDion Boucicault. A final play to be cited is Margaret Flemming, produced in 1890.15 It is a play which was written in the new realistic vein, having infidelity as its theme. Written by James A. Herne, it is set in Canton, Massachusetts, in 1890, and to establish its mood and characters, we are told: It is a morning in spring in Flemming's private office at the mill. The room is handsomely furnished There is a bunch of flowers on the desk and two silver frames holding pictures of Margaret and Lucy.16 15James A. Herne, "Margaret in Representative American Plays (New York: Appelton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953), pp. 513-544. 16I bid p 5 21

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Thus, from this brief description of the setting, we find two elements of contemporary America in 1890: one of the main characters is a mill owner, the result of the Industrial Revolution, and he is affluent enough to own and display photographs of his family in silver frames on his handsome desk. 53 The use of albums to hold tintypes, cartes de visite and Daguerreotypes was cited in plays as early as 1845 in Fashion and continues with the development to photographs by the end of the century. For the playwrights active in the period 1840-1890, increasingly representing realism both in topic and in stage design, the inclusion of the process and product of one of the most importartt inventions of the nineteenth century becomes a significant statement of the developing American identity.

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CHAPTER V PHOTOGRAPHY IN FOCUS IN AMERICA: THE GROWTH OF THE NEW IDEA In Photography and Society, Gisele Freund sums up the impact of photography on the nineteenth century: "Photography", she said, "wai the child of advances in science and the rising classes' need for a new form of artistic expression".1 She was speaking of the impact of photographj on her native France, the country from which we received the Daguerreotype process, but ihe statement is relavant to the situation in the United States as well. In a century devoted to scientific discoveries and applications, the trenj toward realism found another area for activity. The impact of the photographic process and the photographic image upon American culture was immense. Not only was the invention a manifestation of an expanding machine economy, it was also a device that appealed to a democratic society which wanted the products of its manufacturing to the public lGisele Photography and Society (Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 1982), p. 69.

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55 at large and not just to a privileged The miniature photographs which could be quickly produced at a very low cost soon replaced the hand-painted, slowly rendered, more costly item. In addition, the idea of realism, which was also manifested in recognizable locales in painting and carefully researched settings on stage, was now demanded, rather than idealism, in its portrait images. In society, it became fashionable and popular to present a carte de visite, a calling card with a sall on it. For a nation at war, it allowed thousands of soldiers to take with them a pictorial memento of sweetheart or family, or to give these loved ones a photograph to help keep memory alive they returned. The Dagerreotype was introduced into the United States in 1843 and was an immediate sucess. The tendency inherent in the American personality toward func.tionalism was fulfilled in the new invention, and its speed in producing an image was in step with a nation on the move. to Robert Taft in Photography and the American Scene, the United States had population of 17,069,453 in 1840; at that time, of the census showed that no one listed their main occupation

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56 as that of photdgrapher. A decade later, in 1850, the population had increased to to 23,191,873, and 938 persons claimed photography as their main occupation. The increase in the next decade in both population and number of persons listing photography for occupation shows another substantial increase. At that time (1860), of a population of 31,000,000, photography was 2 claimed by 3,154. By the end of the Civil War the camera had been introduced into America for over twenty years; however, American portrait painting continue to be a strong medium, especially the careers of such artists as Eakins and Sargeant. In addition, Eakins, for example, is known to have used photography as a means for scientifically studying the muscles of the body in motion for more accurate rendering of them in his paintings. The quick and easily transportable camera would become the major recording device as American expansion continued. Photographers such as William Henry Jackson, Mathew Brady, C. E. Watkins, and T. H. O'Sullivan went on expeditions traveled just 2Robert Taft, Photography and the American Scene (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1938), p. 61.

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as Cole and other Hudson River artists had done earlier; however, the photographers were more wide-ranging in their travels than the painters had been, but this is a correlative of the expansion of the country during their time. 57 Early photographers shared the artist's tradition of composition as it concerned landscapes. C. E. Watkins, although he earned his living as one of the new portrait photographers, is an example of one of the new photographic artists who had outstanding capabilities in landscape work as well. His 1860 photograph "Mirror Lake and Mount Watkins",3 taken at Yossemite contains the elements identical to those established for the Hudson River School: mountains, water, foliage, and sky, and in a horizontal composition. It also is a recognizable locale with a title indicating this, just like the painters did. The introduction of the railroad into the landscape photographs also followed composition of the paintings of this type. An example is James Gardner's work, "The Famous Harpers Ferry at the Confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers".4 Photographed in 1865, it commemorated the location of an historic 3Ibid., p. 256. 4Ibid., p. 239.

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58 5. C. E. Watkins: Mirror Lake and Mount Watkins.

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..... \ : 6. James Gardner: The Famous Harpers Ferry at the Confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. 59

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60 event as well as containing a railroad bridge similar to the painting cited earlier by Jasper Cropsey. As the century progressed, the camera not only challenged the position ofpainting but began to surpass it. Although in some instances, painting kept pace with the changing face of America, in other areas it lagged behind. It continued to depict genre scenes, particularly of the wilderness, but it did not find a wide audience for the new cityscape. However, in Mirror Image: The Influence of the Dagerreotype on American Society, Russell Rudisill tells us that "By 1850 urban development was becoming a substantial fact in American life",5and that "Not photographers document the appearance of the wilder half of the continent, but they had recorded the character of urban America.6 Therefore, "With urban centers becoming part of the national landscape as surely as farms or the wilderness, it was natural that the daguerreotypist should turn his lens on the city and the town".7 5Russell Rudisill, Mirror Ima e: The Influence of ihe Dagerreotype on American Society Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1971) p. 151. 6Ibid., p. 151. 7Ibid.

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61 Rudisill then summarizes this new role of the daguerreotypist in his statement: "The dagerreotypist had already appeared as a man sensitive to the movements of his time; it seems reasonable, then, that he should be intrigued with this newly emerging face of American life and wish to record it." 8 Painting would not make a major effort to re-enter the artistic life of the country until after the turn of the century. As the idea of realism in art, drama, and literature grew in the latter half of the century and into the early years of the twentieth century, the camera, with its untouched rendering of its subjects--personal or geographic--was the instrument for itstime. 8 Ibid.

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CHAPTER VI CONCLUSION The record of the struggle of the American people and nation for an independent identity is evident in her arts, particularly in drama and the visual arts including painting and photography. Beginning with inherited structures and statements, we Americans quickly assimilated our own statement, which Dr. John A. Kouwenhoven has termed the American vernacular. Kouwenhoven also stated that "the arts are rooted in the civilization which produces them, shaped in its image".1 Henry Adams perceived that the railroad, the telegraph, the Dagerreotype, and the steam engine were four of the most significant inventions of his century. The use of the railroad in painting and photography and the Dagerreotype, or camera, in drama, is a documentation of the search for identity and expression. With the quickness that was characteristic of Americans for adapting new mechanical inventions to their purposes and lifestyle, lJohn A. Kouwenhoven, The Arts in Modern American Civilization (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1967), p. 27.

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it should not seem surprising that these items became both topic and element of the artistic record. The impact of photography on American drama, for example, had definable roots. Even before the introduction of the Dagerreotype in the United States, the combination of pictures and machinery had made their appearance on the American Stage. As in the other instances cited, a traditional art form was the basis. As dramatic presentations became more and more elaborate, scenery was was painted on canvas for a background to the setting. The next step was to mechanize the canvas so that the background moved. Thus, the scenic diorama came into existance as drama moved into a more and more realistic mode of presentation and subject matter. In time, the camera came on the stage as an integral part of the action, both as an art form, replacing painting, and as a scientific device imbedded in the action. Thus, the impact of photography on the American theatre was twofold. The history of the United States appears to be a progression toward a new definition of faith, or reality, notwithstanding the nation's religious origins. Using the term icon rather than symbol for several of the inventions of the 63

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64 mid-nineteenth century is a strong declaration, and yet the evidence is recorded in our cultural documents and artifacts. And if, as Dr. Kouwenhoven has indicated, the American experiance has replaced the cultured traditions of its European heritage, then Americans have indeed found new icons through his reliance, not on nature and a benevolent providence, but on man and his 'invented symbols'.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Books Adams, Henry. The Education of Henry Adams. The Modern Library, 1931. Bartlett, Irving H. The American Mind in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Northbrook, IL: AHM Publishing Corporation, 1967. Burns, Rex. Success in Anmerca. Amherst: University of Massachusetts 1976. Clark, Kenneth. Landscape Into Art. New York: Harper and Row, Publishera, 1979. Cohen, Robert. Theatre. Irvine, California: University of California Press, 1981. Commanger, Henry Steele. The Search for a Usable Past. York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967. Fawkes, Richard. Dion Boucicault. London: Quartet Books, 1979 Freund, Gisele. Photography and Society. Boston: David R. Publisher, 1982. Gianakaris, C. J. Foundations of Drama. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975. Kouwenhoven, John A. The Arts in Modern American Civilization. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1967. Marx, Leo. The Machine in the Garden. New York: Oxford Press, 1964. Morris, William, Ed. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976.

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Oates, Whitney J. and Eugene O'Neill, Jr. Seven Famous Greek Plays. New York: Vintage Books, 1950. Oxford English Dictionary. Vol. V., 1933 ed. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1933. Panofsky, Erwin. Meaning in the Visual Arts. 66 Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982. Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Representative American Plays. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1953. Rudisill, Russell. Mirror Image: The Influence of the Dagguereotype on American Sociey. Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press, 1971. Schlessinger, Arthur W., Jr. and Morton White. Paths of American Thought. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1963. Spencer, Harold, Ed. American Art: Readings from the Colonial Era to the Present. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 19SO. Taft, Robert. Photography and the American Scene. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1964. Taylor, John Russell. The Penguin Dictionary of the Theatre. New York: Penguin Books, 1966. Werner, Alfred. Inness Landscapes. New York: Publications, 1977. Wilmarding, John. Art. New York: Penguin Books, 1976. Periodicals Bruner, Louise. "Religious Themes in American Art" in American Artist, December 1980. Rand, David. "Charmed Places" in Horizons, April 1988.