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Lesson Learned

American Art at the Paris World’s Fair of 1867

Lucia Colombari    University of Virginia, USA    



Displaying the most impressive recent inventions at the World’s Fair of 1867 in Paris, the United States projected a strong idea of a modern country. The board responsible for selecting art works was equally ambitious. Even though the Americans sent their best art to France with the specific goal of showing that their art was as great as their industrial achievements, the exhibition must be considered a complete failure on this ground. Most of the paintings, compared to the European examples, were behind current movements and altogether unimpressive. While American artists did not achieve the recognition they had hoped for, this essay investigates the reasons why the World’s Fair was a fundamental turning point for American art. The article also analyzes how the failures at the Paris event gave American artists a vision for improvement, illustrating that in the decades that followed many factors combined to elevate the quality of their works.

31 Luglio 2017
28 Aprile 2017
12 Febbraio 2017

Keywords: World’s FairParis 1867American ArtArt ExhibitionAmerican Artists

Copyright: © 2017 Lucia Colombari. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.