ART A Plain, Exalted Vision

The Congress shall have Power . . . To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts ARTICLE I SECTION 8 ART A Plain, Exalted Vision For the young Republic in search of a style, antiquity was destin

What sort of aesthetic air did Americans in 1787 breathe? A lot thinner than we probably think. Because the relics of the late 18th and early 19th centuries are preserved in museums, we fall into the habit of thinking of the past as a museum, dense with artifacts, Chippendale and Copley everywhere, a colonial Williamsburg stretching from tidewater Virginia to the Long Wharf in Boston. Of course, neither life nor art was like that. To understand the culture of early republican America, one has to begin with a tiny society scattered along the eastern side of a continent no European had...

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