Art: Big Idea

The somewhat-more-than-mighty vision of a 19th-Century American patriot was put on display last week at Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art. The vision was a Historical Monument of the American Republic as beheld in fantasy and painted about 1876 by Erastus Salisbury Field (see cut).

The artist was a New Englander who painted portraits for 75 years and died in 1900 at the age of 95. His huge tribute to his country (9 ft. 3 in. by 13 ft. 1 in.) showed in realistic detail an edifice far beyond even Hollywood's most incredible fabrics. He...

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