Painting Painting Painting

And yet again a wonderful week interning for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has flown by! Laura gave me a small research assignment just so she could double check some previous research she has already done. This past week I focused on analyzing how the American Revolution affected painting in the colonies. Where there any trends? New artists? What about this conflict changed the world of painting in America?

I will admit that this topic seemed very broad and scared me at first, but the more I looked into it, the more I realized that if I broke the topic up into small pieces and analyzed each section then I could manage the task easily. (Divide and conquer if you will). After skimming dozens of books on American portraiture and technique from the 19th century, I created this summary of my findings:


Prior to the American Revolution, painting in the colonies was heavily influenced by the visual and mental concerns of the Old World that were often expressed by “grandly heroic gesture… inspired by the art of ‘monarchical subordination’ ” (Rosand). However, following the Revolutionary War, American painters emancipated themselves from European portraiture and embraced a newly found aesthetic ambition that “aspired to make the most of contemporary reality while, in keeping with Enlightenment tradition… blended pragmatism with morality” (Marchetti). American painting became a celebration of the most ordinary events of daily life through its newfound focus on landscape paintings. In the end, landscape art became not classical art, but a uniquely American art that “reflected the particularities of the new country.”


(The Invention of Painting in America by David Rosand, 2004)

(American Painting editied by Francesca Castria Marchetti)

I found this research project to be extremely daunting at first, but over time I really came to enjoy how broad and free the topic was. I ended up researching Benjamin West, a painter who came up in one of my first research projects at CW too (I love making connections between my projects!)  Overall, I had a wonderful week and am excited to see what this week has in store for me 🙂

P.S. I was able to grab lunch with the Woody’s and Mr. Bullock on Friday which was a real treat too! Unfortunately I was sick during finals and unable to meet them, but grabbing a casual bite was an absolute treat. I was able to properly thank for them granting me this incredible opportunity at Colonial Williamsburg and learned a lot about their background/past travels. (We ended up discussing my study abroad plans a good bit and their experiences were very informative and helpful for as I plan out my future studies). The Woodys were nothing but kind and extremely welcoming to me and I absolutely loved every minute of our lunch! Mr. Bullock discussed potentially having a fall reunion lunch with the other interns which I think would be amazing too! Every day I am reminded just how fortunate I am to have such incredible opportunities to meet such wonderful people and surround myself which people who love history just as much as I do!


Who could say no to incredible company and house dressing?


  1. lmsevier says:

    Wow! Rachel, this sounds super interesting! I am also a W&M student doing Summer research and have been browsing through the blogs! Great job!