Cover image for Compass and clock : defining moments in American culture : 1800, 1850, 1900
Compass and clock : defining moments in American culture : 1800, 1850, 1900
Wilmerding, John.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Harry N. Abrams, 1999.
Physical Description:
256 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library E169.1 .W528 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Covering literature, art, architecture and music, this book discusses the evolution of American culture - art, literature, architecture and music. It includes stimulating analyses of masterworks from this period, from Moby Dick to the paintings of Thomas Eadkins.

Author Notes

John Wilmerding, Sarofim Professor of American Art at Princeton University and visiting curator in the Departments of American Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, was deputy director of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., from 1983 to 1988.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Noted art historian Wilmerding has written a fascinating study of American culture by focusing on three pivotal periods--the beginning of the 19th century, the century's midpoint, and its close in 1900. Reviving the notion (less than fashionable in recent years) that there are such things as pinpointable historical turning points, Wilmerding takes these three moments as launch points for his engrossing and cross-disciplinary look at art, literature, architecture, and music. Weaving together commentary on artists, writers, and others, he both defines each moment and shows how it led to the next point in the century. Lavishly illustrated with examples of the art works discussed, as well as portraits of the writers, this volume is recommended for larger libraries with art or American culture collections.--Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Clockwise Americap. 20
Prologue: Articulating Independencep. 25
Part 1. Circa 1800: Expanding Horizonsp. 39
Ideas, Individuals, and Issuesp. 40
Jefferson's Visionsp. 53
The Peales: Painting and Sciencep. 66
Noah Webster and American Languagep. 79
Part 2. Circa 1850: Apex and Apogeep. 85
Paradoxes of Tension and Calmp. 86
The Painters' Illuminations: Lane, Bingham, and Churchp. 106
The Writers' Renaissance: Melville, Thoreau, and Whitmanp. 127
The Architect's Abstractions: Robert Millsp. 148
Part 3. Circa 1900: Disorientationp. 155
Memoirs, Music, and Meditationsp. 156
Inner Sight: Saint-Gaudens, Homer, Peto, and Eakinsp. 184
The Self as History and Literature: Henry Adamsp. 215
The New Century's New Energiesp. 226
Epilogue: Circa 2000p. 239
Notesp. 241
Indexp. 251
Photographic Creditsp. 256

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