Art: Rustic Rembrandt

The first major U.S. genre (everyday-life) painter was last week just 100 years in the past. Manhattan's Metropolitan Museum paid William Sidney Mount a fitting tribute with a show of oils, watercolors, sketches and memorabilia.

The fashion of William Mount's time (1807-1868) was for grandiose historical paintings, like the great John Trumbull's Revolutionary War murals. But Mount, an innkeeper's son who first learned the technique of oil painting from a sign painter, reacted against the fashion: he painted the things he knew and loved in his native Suffolk County, N.Y.—warm, simple scenes...

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