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American Folk Art Painters of the 18th Century

Updated on September 12, 2016
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Ancient art and architecture isn't only for historians, but for people like us who’ve always been interested in anything olden and periodic.

Many of the early American folk art artists started off their amateurish but interesting drawings and paintings solely for use as pretty pictures meant to adorn their interior walls as decorative objects.

According to fine art history, the citizenry barely had access to works and paintings of famous European artists or other professionally produced prints, so they were quite content with their "primitive" folk paintings which blended harmoniously with their interior furnishings anyway.

American Folk Artwork - The Lincoln Children
American Folk Artwork - The Lincoln Children | Source

Many of the American folk painters of the 18th century were home-owners, journeymen painters, and the young girls of the family who had to (as a custom) study drawing and painting at finishing schools.

Many of the paintings and such art from the 18th century that have stood the test of time are mostly anonymous as they were seldom signed by the "artist".

Early Works of American Folk Painters of the 18th Century

New England, Virginia, western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the Hudson River sections were replete with beautiful picturesque views and lovely landscape views that stretched unobstructed for miles. This greatly appealed to, and influenced the local inhabitants' to show their artistic flair by painting scenes they see, work, and live with daily.

Early folk painting was produced massively with paintings varying in technical proficiency, evidence that showed their lack of knowledge of perspective.

They painted mostly simple and naïve works where sketches were poorly done and colours unnatural.

Faces appeared disproportionate with the bodies, and legs were too short for the torsos.

Nonetheless these folk art paintings, as they are commonly referred to, were characteristically vital; visibly showing a conscientious effort on the part of the artist to produce a "great" painting.

Subjects of American Primitive Paintings

Most of the primitive or folk paintings produced by the early artists had every conceivable subject that can be imagined at the time.

American Folk Art
American Folk Art | Source

The most common subjects of 18th century paintings, many of them collector’s items used in today's informal interior settings, include:

  • Village scenes
  • City scenes
  • Landscapes
  • Churches and important public structures
  • Seascapes
  • Portraits
  • Farmhouse scenes
  • Military wars
  • Naval battles
  • Horse-racing scenes
  • Religious groups

These early paintings are great representations of a definite era of American art and culture.

Modern painters may have capitalised on the crudity of these early styles of painting by folk art painters, but the simplicity and authenticity of folk art paintings tells us of a history of honest representations and attempts at producing simple natural art by simple honest people.

© 2012 artsofthetimes


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