Catalogue


Citizen spectator : art, illusion, and visual perception in early national America /
Wendy Bellion.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
Chapel Hill : Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia, by the University of North Carolina Press, c2011.
description
xviii, 351 p., [12] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0807833886 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780807833889 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Chapel Hill : Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia, by the University of North Carolina Press, c2011.
isbn
0807833886 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780807833889 (cloth : alk. paper)
contents note
Theaters of visuality -- The politics of discernment -- Sight and the city -- Imitations and originals -- Looking for the invisible lady -- Phantasmagoric Washington.
general note
Outgrowth of the author's thesis (Northwestern University).
catalogue key
7390849
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
In the first book-length exploration of illusionistic art in the early United States, Bellion investigates Americans' experiences with material forms of visual deception and argues that encounters with illusory art shaped citizens' understanding of knowledge, representation, and subjectivity between 1790 and 1825.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2011-08-01:
Bellion (Univ. of Delaware) offers here a beautifully written, handsomely produced, and challenging analysis of what she terms "visual deceptions," which include trompe l'oeil paintings and optical devices such as magic lanterns and perspective boxes. These "popular spectacles of deception" enabled a Republican generation to develop a keenness of vision that was both physical and metaphoric and helped train it to be alert for deceptions within the body politic. Bellion argues that during this era, when the parameters of democratic society were being formed, there existed a "pronounced ideological equation between keen vision and patriotism." She singles out Philadelphia as "a place where the visual ideology of the early republic could be put to the test," and illustrates her thesis with works by the city's preeminent artist, Charles Willson Peale, such as his Staircase Group (1795), and a painting by his son Raphaelle Peale, Venus Rising from the Sea--A Deception (1822). Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers/faculty. S. Webster emerita, Lehman College and the Graduate Center CUNY
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Constructs a fresh framework for reconsidering the ways that early Americans claimed membership in a national citizenry defined more powerfully by republican culture than by law." - Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
"A dramatic and delightful exercise in undeceiving. . . . [Bellion's] work will have broad appeal beyond art historians to historians of early American as well as literary and cultural scholars." - William and Mary Quarterly
"Admirable and groundbreaking . . . . Significant both for its extensive research into the culture of spectatorship in Philadelphia and for the ways in which it opens up further modes of inquiry for scholars interested in the Early National period." - Association of Historians of American Art
"With its careful contextualization and detailed, historical analysis of the cultural forms of illusion, this book firmly locates its discussion of early national visuality within the cultural practices of everyday life and thus makes a substantial contribution to the empirical history of spectatorship in the United States." - American Historical Review
"Bellion shows that deceptive illusions were not mere diversions for the citizens of Philadelphia circa 1800 but were embedded in the Enlightenment pursuit of rationality and anxieties about republican politics. These insights bring a fascinating array of artifacts into focus."--Michael Leja, University of Pennsylvania
" Citizen Spectator lifts a curtain to expose the aesthetic, economic, and political spaces--from museums to markets, the street to the statehouse--where Americans practiced a politics of visual discernment. Absorbing and arresting as an illusionistic painting, Bellion's book brilliantly reveals how new media challenged inherited ideologies and provides novel horizons and vanishing points for the history of American art, culture, and politics."--Eric Slauter, University of Chicago
"Citizen Spectatoris a wonderful book--clever, learned, insightful, and surprising. Bellion writes brilliantly about art, illusion, optics, and perception, leading readers through the rich visual worlds of early national Philadelphia and into the tumultuous politics of the new American nation."--Ann Fabian, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
" Citizen Spectator is a wonderful book--clever, learned, insightful, and surprising. Bellion writes brilliantly about art, illusion, optics, and perception, leading readers through the rich visual worlds of early national Philadelphia and into the tumultuous politics of the new American nation."--Ann Fabian, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
"Among the most significant book-length studies of early American art to appear in print during the past decade." - Common-Place
"Bellion is a skilled expositor of images, and each of her essays leaves us with a deeper understanding of works we might imagine were plumbed long ago." - Journal of American History
"Bellion offers here a beautifully written, handsomely produced, and challenging analysis. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers/faculty." - Choice
"Eye-opening, original, and provocative, Citizen Spectator recasts early national citizenship as a politicization of the senses. A fascination for optical illusions in art and science tested Americans' ability to discern authenticity from deception. Bellion proves just how important that test was in the early republic. She reminds us of its importance still."--Joseph Roach, Yale University
"Eye-opening, original, and provocative,Citizen Spectatorrecasts early national citizenship as a politicization of the senses. A fascination for optical illusions in art and science tested Americans' ability to discern authenticity from deception. Bellion proves just how important that test was in the early republic. She reminds us of its importance still."--Joseph Roach, Yale University
"Citizen Spectatorlifts a curtain to expose the aesthetic, economic, and political spaces--from museums to markets, the street to the statehouse--where Americans practiced a politics of visual discernment. Absorbing and arresting as an illusionistic painting, Bellion's book brilliantly reveals how new media challenged inherited ideologies and provides novel horizons and vanishing points for the history of American art, culture, and politics."--Eric Slauter, University of Chicago
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, August 2011
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
In this richly illustrated study, the first book-length exploration of illusionistic art in the early United States, Wendy Bellion investigates Americans' experiences with material forms of visual deception and argues that encounters with illusory art shaped their understanding of knowledge, representation, and subjectivity between 1790 and 1825. Focusing on the work of the well-known Peale family and their Philadelphia Museum, as well as other Philadelphians, Bellion explores the range of illusions encountered in public spaces, from trompe l'oeil paintings and drawings at art exhibitions to ephemeral displays of phantasmagoria, "Invisible Ladies," and other spectacles of deception. Bellion reconstructs the elite and vernacular sites where such art and objects appeared and argues that early national exhibitions doubled as spaces of citizen formation. Within a post-Revolutionary culture troubled by the social and political consequences of deception, keen perception signified able citizenship. Setting illusions into dialogue with Enlightenment cultures of science, print, politics, and the senses,Citizen Spectatordemonstrates that pictorial and optical illusions functioned to cultivate but also to confound discernment. Bellion reveals the equivocal nature of illusion during the early republic, mapping its changing forms and functions, and uncovers surprising links between early American art, culture, and citizenship.
Main Description
Outgrowth of the author's thesis (Northwestern University).
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
List of Illustrationsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
Theaters of Visualityp. 23
The Politics of Discernmentp. 63
Sight and the Cityp. 113
Imitations and Originalsp. 171
Looking for the Invisible Ladyp. 231
Phantasmagoric Washingtonp. 283
Conclusionp. 329
Indexp. 341
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem