ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

American Art and Architecture - 17th to 20th Century

Updated on April 6, 2018
artsofthetimes profile image

Ancient art and architecture isn't only for historians, but for people like us who’ve always been interested in anything olden and periodic.

During the 17th century, fine art and architecture were not things of interest to the early colonial settlers. Just trying to settle down to life in the United States, they encountered a great number of challenges and difficulties while setting up their new communities. There was so much happening that interest in the visual arts was nowhere near being important.

Between 1608 and 1790, art and architectural styles had humble features. Structures were built with locally sourced wood, the main building material, and little thought was given to aesthetics or design. Furniture was handcrafted and crude, uncomplimentary copies of Jacobean, Carolean and William & Mary art period designs.

The early 1720s there was an obvious refinement in art and architecture, including interior design, and furniture design. Artisans began to pay more attention to detail, and the copies of Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite forms became a bit more accurate and pleasing. During this period, there was a gradual introduction of Georgian architectural designs with a bit more attention paid to details of forms and structures.

By the mid-17th century, there emerged a group of colonial American painting styles developed by artisan artists in the metropolitan areas of Boston and New York. Their art was based on portrait art and figurative compositions that showed a mix of different styles from Europe. This became a basic to the development of American painting, the beginning of American art.

Early American Home Interior
Early American Home Interior | Source

Early American Art

The few artworks created was mostly confined to a few still-life paintings of landscapes and portraiture and the only opportunities for the few artists were found in painting for the wealthy and prominent colonial class.

The art and architecture of these first settlers are described as American Colonial Art. Some of the prominent painters of the time are Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), one of the best portrait artists of the 18th century and Benjamin West (1738-1820), the first American artist to achieve international fame.

Others are Ralph Earl (1751-1801) an 18th-century portraitist, and the portrait/history painter John Trumbull (1756-1843).

Early American Architecture

Architectural styles of early colonial America was the Federal Style (Neoclassic architecture), Georgian, and Greek revival designs. By the mid-1800, building designs became dominated by skyscraper architecture with the first skyscraper designed and engineered by the Chicago School.

Some of the famous architects of the period include Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), one of the best Early American architects of the late 18th century and the third President of the United States, Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844), one of the best known American architects of the late 18th to early 19th century and a leading advocate of the Federal Style of Neoclassical architecture, and William Thornton (1759-1828), significant for his experimentation with classicism, attained early fame for his neoclassical design of the United States Capitol Building in Washington DC.

American Art and Architecture - 19th and 20th Century

American Victorian: 1840s to 1880s industrial movements suppressed the interest in the decorative arts with eclecticism dominating architectural styles, furniture designs and decorative objects. There was the Gothic and Romanesque influence in architectural features and Belter, Eastlake and Louis XV influence in furniture.

This art period is a good example of how the cultural awareness of a people is reflected in their appreciation of art. According to art historical sources, the people of the American Victorian period were interested in almost everything, except the fine and decorative arts.

Eclectic Period: 1870 to 1925 was an era in American art history which was an extension of the Victorian Period. There was an architectural influence of the famous French National School of Fine Arts, with residential and furniture designs influenced by Colonial, Italian, French, Spanish and English designs.

The end of this era witnessed the beginnings of the struggle against, and resistance to the revival of art styles, and recognition of functionalism as a dictate of artistic style.

Modern Period: From 1925: Today, designs and structures of buildings, interior design/décor, furniture and the industrial arts are fashioned to fulfil modern day requirements and lifestyle. However, as the years progress into the 21st century, there lay vast potentials of new creative art materials dominating the decorative arts scene, determining today’s style directions.


© 2011 artsofthetimes


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • artsofthetimes profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thank you so much Vicki for your nice comments.

      Im so glad you found it informative.


    • vicki goodwin profile image

      Sojourner McConnell 

      7 years ago from Winchester Kentucky

      Very interesting hub. I did not know this information and you presented it in such an enjoyable manner. Thank you!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)