Painting: Muley the Pragmatist

In the golden twilight of the 19th century, most U.S. artists were mainly tourists. They had succumbed to what Henry James diagnosed as "the great American disease, the appetite for color and form, for the picturesque and romantic at any price." By the hundreds, they fled the industrial turmoil and cracker-barrel esthetics of their native U.S. for the postcard châteaux and quaint peasantry of Europe. But Ohio farmers on McCormick reapers did not fit into pretty landscapes as nicely as Normans driving oxcarts; few artists returned able to apply lessons learned abroad...

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