This DVD contains seven presentations on American artists of the nineteenth century. A thirty-two page viewer's guide includes a biography of each artist and reproductions of featured works.
The American Art, 1785–1926 DVD compilation includes the following titles, which are also available as individual films on VHS:
- John James Audubon: The Birds of America
Audubon documented the great variety of American birds and wrote extensively on nature and the American wilderness. Using quotations from his journals and his original drawings and engravings, this film tells the unique story of Audubon's artistic development and his uncompromising devotion to publishing The Birds of America. Works of art are interwoven with live-motion nature photography and footage of sites prominent in Audubon's life and work.
- An American Impressionist: William Merritt Chase at Shinnecock
This film highlights Chase's years at Shinnecock, on Long Island, New York, where in 1891 he established the first important outdoor summer school of art in America. Chase's paintings and archival photographs—many of the artist's studios—are interwoven with footage of the hills and beaches at Shinnecock and Chase's house and studio as they are today.
- The Landscapes of Frederic Edwin Church
This program traces Church's career from early studies in the Hudson River valley with the eminent painter Thomas Cole through the years when Church's heroic depictions of the natural wonders of the Americas made him the nation's most celebrated landscape painter. Footage of the Catskills and of Church's final work of art—Olana, his splendid house overlooking the Hudson River in upstate New York—is included.
- Winslow Homer: The Nature of the Artist
This film follows Homer's art from his early illustrations of the Civil War to his picturesque and charming scenes of the country and shore, and finally to the powerful images of nature that characterize his mature and late work. The film's commentary provides a guide to Homer's artistic progress and achievements—particularly his transformation of watercolor from a purely descriptive to a powerfully expressive vehicle.
- Thomas "Yellowstone" Moran
This film recounts the story of Moran's involvement with the government-sponsored survey expedition to Yellowstone in 1871. Using archival photographs and footage of Yellowstone, the film underscores the pivotal role that Moran's paintings played in securing passage of a bill to establish the first national park.
- Important Information Inside: John F. Peto and the Idea of Still-Life Painting
This program explores Peto's art in the context of his native Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he trained. Live footage shows the artist's home and studio in Island Heights, New Jersey, which reveal the artist's temperament in their design and object collections—the very forms found in his paintings. A survey of the development of still-life painting in American art is also included.
- James McNeill Whistler: The Lyrics of Art
Painter and printmaker James McNeill Whistler was one of the most controversial and fascinating personalities of the nineteenth century. This film follows his life and career in America, London, Paris, and Venice. From his early realist paintings to his nearly abstract Nocturnes, Whistler's aesthetic innovations were precursors of trends in twentieth-century art.
All programs are closed captioned.