I'm sitting here editing a short essay that Anna Lineberger and I have written on images of property in Nathaniel Parker Willis' 1840 American Scenery and in Thomas Addison Richards' 1854 American Scenery -- yes, they had the same title. The essay will be coming out sometime soon in Jim Smith's volume on Property and Sovereignty. And I see that several US Embassies have had exhibitions of engravings from American Scenery. The landscapes were engraved by William Bartlett.
The American studies person in me absolutely loves this; artwork designed to celebrate Americans' dominion over the land and advance the nationalist mission is, well, still being used for that purpose. From the State Department's website:
William Henry Bartlett (March 26, 1809 – September 13, 1854) was a British artist, best known for his numerous steel engravings. Bartlett was born in Kentish Town, London in 1809. He was apprenticed to John Britton (1771–1857), and became one of the foremost illustrators of topography of his generation. He travelled throughout Britain, and in the mid and late 1840s he travelled extensively in the Balkans and the Middle East. He made four visits to the United States between 1835 and 1852. In 1835, Bartlett first visited the United States in order to draw the buildings, towns and scenery of the northeastern states. The finely detailed steel engravings Bartlett produced were published uncolored with a text by Nathaniel Parker Willis as American Scenery; or Land, Lake, and River: Illustrations of Transatlantic Nature. American Scenery was published by George Virtue in London in 30 monthly installments from 1837 to 1839. Bound editions of the work were published from 1840 onward. His impressions of Canada were collected in Canadian Scenery in 1842. Bartlett made sepia wash drawings the exact size to be engraved. His engraved views were widely copied by artists, but no signed oil painting by his hand is known. Engravings based on Bartlett's views were later used in his posthumous History of the United States of North America, continued by B. B. Woodward and published around 1856. William Henry Bartlett died of fever on board of a French ship off the coast of Malta returning from his last trip to the Near East, in 1854. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Henry_Bartlett
I love that citation to wikipedia at the end of the State Department's description of Bartlett! I didn't know anything about the State Department's Art in Embassies program, but it makes perfect sense -- it's a very 1960s mission of spreading the American mission through art. Again, from the State Department's website:
Established in 1963, the U.S. Department of State’s office of ART in Embassies (AIE) plays a vital role in our nation’s public diplomacy through a culturally expansive mission, creating temporary exhibitions and permanent collections, artist and cultural exchange programming, and publications. The Museum of Modern Art first envisioned this global visual arts program a decade earlier. In the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy formalized it, naming the program's first director. Now with over 200 venues, AIE curates temporary and permanent exhibitions for the representational spaces of all U.S. chanceries, annexes, consulates, and embassy residences worldwide, commissioning and selecting contemporary art from the U.S. and the host countries. These exhibitions provide international audiences with a sense of the quality, scope, and diversity of both countries’ art and culture, establishing AIE’s presence in more countries than any other U.S. foundation or arts organization.
The image is of Bartlett's landscape, "Peekskill Landing." Here're a few more thoughts on landscape art and property law.