American
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William Sidney Mount (American, 1807–1868),
The Blackberry Girls , 1840
oil on panel, 15 7/8 x 13 7/8 in.; 40.32 x 35.24 cm
Museum Purchase with Funds Provided by Susan Storz Butler, 2001.1

Mount studied briefly with portraitist Henry Inman and, in 1826, was one of the first students admitted to New York’s National Academy of Design. While his earliest works imitated European history painting, in 1830 Mount exhibited his first scene of Long Island country life. So enthusiastically was this received that rural themes occupied the artist for the remainder of his career and earned him international fame. The Blackberry Girls demonstrates Mount’s interest in seventeenth-century Dutch genre painting and direct observation of nature — confirmed here by the exquisite foreground detail and the sophisticated tonal range of the background — while the idealized depiction of rural peasantry reveals the young nation’s optimistic agrarian ideology.

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