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Nature and Culture: American Landscape and…

Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875

by Barbara Novak

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195305868, Hardcover)

In this richly illustrated volume, featuring more than fifty black-and-white illustrations and a beautiful eight-page color insert, Barbara Novak describes how for fifty extraordinary years, American society drew from the idea of Nature its most cherished ideals. Between 1825 and 1875, all kinds of Americans--artists, writers, scientists, as well as everyday citizens--believed that God in Nature could resolve human contradictions, and that nature itself confirmed the American destiny. Using diaries and letters of the artists as well as quotes from literary texts, journals, and periodicals, Novak illuminates the range of ideas projected onto the American landscape by painters such as Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Edwin Church, Asher B. Durand, Fitz H. Lane, and Martin J. Heade, and writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Frederich Wilhelm von Schelling.
Now with a new preface, this spectacular volume captures a vast cultural panorama. It beautifully demonstrates how the idea of nature served, not only as a vehicle for artistic creation, but as its ideal form.

"An impressive achievement."
--Barbara Rose, The New York Times Book Review

"An admirable blend of ambition, elan, and hard research. Not just an art book, it bears on some of the deepest fantasies of American culture as a whole."
--Robert Hughes, Time Magazine

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:22 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"Originally published in 1980, and reissued with an extended preface in 1995, Nature and Culture was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Nonfiction Award and was chosen by The New York Times Book Review as one the year's ten best books. The second volume of her trilogy on American art and culture, it describes how the idea of "God in Nature" was rendered by nineteenth-century landscape painters who believed, along with the culture at large, that the glory of God - as shown through America's natural riches - was proof of the nation's providential destiny. Using diaries and letters, as well as quotes from literary texts, journals, and periodicals, Novak illuminates the range of ideas the era's thinkers projected onto the American landscape before this idealistic view collapsed from within, under-mined by the Civil War, Darwinism, and a burgeoning technological landscape"--Jacket.

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