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Other titles in the Richard Hampton Jenrette Series in Architecture and the Decorative Arts series:
Planter's Prospect: Privilege and Slavery in Plantation Paintings (Richard Hampton Jenrette Series in Architecture and the Decorative Arts)by John Michael Vlach
Synopses & Reviews
Although nineteenth-century American landscapes typically were painted from a high vantage point, looking down from above, southern landscapes that featured plantations diverged from this convention in telling ways. Portraits of planters' landholdings were often depicted from a point below the plantation house, a perspective that directs the viewer's gaze upward and, as John Vlach observes, echoes the deference and respect the planter class assumed was its due. Moreover, Vlach notes, slaves were rarely represented in plantation paintings made before the Civil War, although it was slave labor that powered the plantation system. After the war and the abolition of slavery, he argues, a wistful revisionism seems to have restored these people--still toiling in the service of the masters--to the landscapes they had created and on which they were so cruelly mistreated.
This richly illustrated book explores the statements of power and ironic evasions encoded in plantation landscapes, focusing on six artists whose collective body of work spans the period between 1800 and 1935 and documents plantations across the South, from Maryland to Louisiana: Francis Guy, Charles Fraser, Adrien Persac, Currier and Ives chief artist Fanny Palmer, William Aiken Walker, and Alice Ravenel Huger Smith.
Vlach analyzes the depiction of southern plantations in paintings and other illustrations created from the 19th to the early 20th century, focusing particularly on the representation or, more commonly, omission of African Americans.
About the Author
John Michael Vlach is professor of American studies and anthropology at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. His previous books include Back of the Big House: The Architecture of Plantation Slavery and Plain Painters: Making Sense of American Folk Art.
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