In the second half of the nineteenth century, artists across America, Britain, and Europe increasingly saw themselves as members of a like-minded, international community. As urbanization and industrialization changed the fabric of society, painters and photographers drew inspiration from one another’s work and developed innovative techniques to respond to the turbulent times in which they lived.
Among painters, some idealized rural life to offset the trauma of the modern city, or composed sentimental scenes to market to the growing middle class. Others turned to realism to take stock of the devastation wrought by war and social unrest, producing works of remarkable poignancy.
Photography, invented in France and England and widely adapted by 1839, astonished early audiences and brought about new ways of seeing and interpreting the world. It had an impact on every genre of image making, from landscape to portraiture, and as the works on view in this gallery suggest, it quickly evolved into a leading expressive medium.