In the decades following the American Revolution, scenes of daily life were rare. History painting and portraiture dominated artistic practice, as military victories, political heroes, and memorials to nationbuilding were the focus of both public and private commissions. With his images of rural...
In the decades following the American Revolution, scenes of daily life were rare. History painting and portraiture dominated artistic practice, as military victories, political heroes, and memorials to nationbuilding were the focus of both public and private commissions. With his images of rural New England scenery and the everyday activities of its citizenry, Fisher became one of the first American artists to practice and promote genre painting. The conflation of productive agricultural work and healthy socializing and coupling in Corn Husking Frolic belonged to a growing national iconography that celebrated the virtues of agrarian life. This sort of imagery was a “lucrative, pleasant and distinguishing branch of art,” according to Fisher, and soon many American artists, collectors, and tastemakers would discover its appeal. From the 1830s to the 1870s, similar idyllic scenes of corn-husking bees, applepickings, cider making, and maple-sugar parties were produced by an increasing number of artists, among them William Sidney Mount[48.458], Jerome Thompson [46.852], Eastman Johnson [48.435], and Winslow Homer [38.114]. These types of pictures satisfied an elite, urban clientele interested in images of the nation’s natural bounty, the romanticized dispositions of its convivial farmers, and depictions of a democracy in which many members of society came together in leisure pursuits. Corn Husking Frolic, completed after Fisher’s extensive travels in Europe in 1825, reflects his departure from a lighter, more even palette, as in his Landscape with Cows [1986.996]. Fisher moved on to more dramatic contrasts and atmospheric effects, the result of his exposure to old master Dutch painters such as Rembrandt [38.1838] and contemporary British landscape paintings. Shown at the Boston Athenaeum in 1829 (as A Husking Frolic), this painting was purchased by the prominent Boston oil merchant Joseph Putnam Bradlee for the respectable price of $100. Notes 1. Fisher quoted in William Dunlap, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States, ed. Frank W. Bayley and Charles E. Goodspeed (1834; repr., Boston: C.E. Goodspeed and Co., 1918), 33. Hannah Blunt
Reverse: A. Fisher./To the care of H. Hovey + Co./Boston
1829, sold by the artist to Josiah Putnam Bradlee (1783-1838), Boston for $100. With Brodney Art Gallery, Boston. With Gustav Klimann, Boston. 1956, with Vose Galleries, Boston; 1957, sold by Vose Galleries to Maxim Karolik, Newport, R.I.; 1962, gift of Maxim Karolik to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 14, 1962)
Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865