Nineteenth-century American paintings frequently depict foreign settings, from the Caribbean to the Arctic. Many of these artworks seem to reveal moments of cultural exchange or scientific inquiry, but they have rarely been seen as evidence of the growing imperialist tendencies of the United States throughout the 1800s.
In this podcast, Maggie M. Cao (NHC Fellow, 2021–22) considers how the aesthetics and subject matter of nineteenth-century American art can better help us to understand imperialism as a global and historical concept. By examining paintings from this period, we can trace how complex attitudes about cultural relations were represented and disseminated to a wider public.
Image: William Bradford, Whalers Trapped by Arctic Ice, 1865.