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Age of American Industry, Empire, & Impressionism

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844 – 1926)

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844 – 1926)

This is a portrait of Pittsburgh (Allegheny City) native and American expatriate artist, Mary Cassatt, by fellow American expatriate painter Edgar Degas in Paris, c. 1880 – 1884.

Victor Séjour (1817 – 1874)

Victor Séjour (1817 – 1874)

Séjour was a New Orleans born gens de couleur libre (free person of color).  He was a playwright and novelist who left for Paris in 1836 where he was reputed to have been one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s favorite artists.

In the aftermath of the American Civil War, some ten to fifteen thousand former Confederates and other southerners fled the United States.  Most feared retribution by the United States government, while others resented American reconstructionist policies.  Many desired to reestablish slaved-based plantation economies in parts of Mexico and Central and South America, namely in British Honduras (modern day Belize) and Brazil.

Similarly, some free and formerly enslaved Americans of African descent were doubtful that they could attain full freedom in the United States.  They sought freedom abroad in European cities like Paris and London, while others sought to establish black American colonies on the African continent (Liberia, Sierra Leone, and present-day Guinea).

The period between the end of the American Civil War and the end of World War I (1865 – 1919) ushered in an unprecedented period of industrialization in the United States.  The beneficiaries of the American Gilded Age sought refinement as well as artistic training and validation in European cities that were experiencing their own periods of relative peace, prosperity, great cultural productivity, and innovation called the Belle Époque.

  • Writers, Painters, and Artists
  • France, Italy, Germany
  • American Confederates
  • Central and South America
  • Missionaries and Pilgrims
  • Asia, Africa, Central and South America
  • Black Americans
  • Africa (Liberia)