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Members' Research Report Archive

Picturing Mobility: American Genre Painting and the Spaces of Modernity

Lacey Baradel, Research Associate, 2016–2017


Thomas Hovenden, Breaking Home Ties, 1890. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Ellen Harrison McMichael in memory of C. Emory McMichael, 1942

My research examines the ways in which US artists and audiences engaged shifting conceptions of space and identity through the formal and narrative aspects of domestic genre paintings produced during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Such works of art shaped public debates about mobility significantly, prompting viewers to explore seemingly tenuous connections between place and belonging during an era of social, political, and economic flux. In February I presented a portion of this research in a lecture on the work of Eastman Johnson (1824–1906) at the Milwaukee Art Museum and published an article on the reception of Breaking Home Ties by Thomas Hovenden (1840–1895).