Genre painting flourished in the U.S. during the mid-19th century. These narrative scenes depicting the everyday activities of stock or typed characters captivated American audiences. Delineating distinctly American characters, often through the exploration of racial, regional, or class differences, genre painting, like landscape, was often called upon as a vehicle for expression of cultural nationalism.
Two paintings from the Louvre represent the Dutch and English schools, key sources on which genre painters in the U.S. drew in developing their own idiom. These rich genre paintings, alongside three outstanding American examples, enable the exploration of a variety of interrelated themes including the development of character types, confrontations between them, the spaces of their confrontations, the role of the senses as well as music and narrative, and the graphic reproduction and dissemination of genre paintings in the form of prints.
Genre Painting and Everyday Life accompanies the first of a series of focused exhibitions collaboratively organized by the Musee du Louvre, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the High Museum of Art, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.