Imprinting the West: Manifest Destiny, Real and Imagined
November 08 through January 04, 2015
Imprinting the West explores the potent imagery of popular prints with western subject matter produced in the decades following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The Louisiana Purchase set the stage for great exploration and discovery, migration and settlement, in addition to struggle and conflict. Convinced that God wanted the country to extend to the Pacific coast—an idea called “Manifest Destiny”—many American citizens, including painters and printmakers, moved west.
These engravings and lithographs shaped perceptions of the West and its Native American inhabitants, some of whom were dislocated by the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Several artists documented the so-called “vanishing race,” while others portrayed the western landscape. Much of this imagery was created with an eastern or international audience in mind, and it both drew from and promoted fantasies about Native Americans and the west as much as it documented reality.
F.O.C. Darley, Emigrants Crossing the Plains, 1874, hand-colored engraving