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Deborah Chotner with contributions by Julie Aronson, Sarah D. Cash, and Laurie Weitzenkorn
The American naive paintings at the National Gallery of Art have long been appreciated as wonderfully appealing, and in some cases visually stunning, works of art. Yet with the exception of those paintings by important, known artists such as Erastus Field or Edward Hicks, few had been studied thoroughly. Whereas other volumes of the systematic catalogue build upon decades, sometimes centuries, of scholarship, many of the more than 300 pictures included here are now published for the first time. The research presented here reveals much about the growth of the United States, its centers of commerce a century and a half ago, the pathways for the spread of visual ideas in the 19th century, and the aspirations and sentiments of the middle class. The majority of the works included originated in the northeastern United States during the 19th century.