Picturing America: Art in the United States from the Colonial Period to the Civil War | Newberry

Picturing America: Art in the United States from the Colonial Period to the Civil War

Led by Patricia Scanlan.
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Three sessions. Tuesdays, November 30-December 14.



For the Fall 2021 term, we’re offering a mix of virtual and in-person classes. Although we are still primarily virtual, you will find a smaller selection of in-person seminars in the schedule. For more information about the Newberry’s virtual seminars, including a Zoom tutorial, please see our Virtual Seminars FAQ page. Registration opens on September 1st at 9am (Central time). Registration will take place through our online platform, Learning Stream.

Seminar Description

In this seminar, we will survey the history of American art and visual culture from the colonial period to the Civil War—decades of dramatic upheaval that witnessed the birth of the new nation, Western expansion, encounters with Indigenous peoples, and a rapidly changing society. During the late eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth, the visual arts played a significant role in the construction of self, national, and regional identities, as well as in the formation of gender, race, and class distinctions. While artists in the colonies and the newly formed United States drew upon Anglo and European styles and precedents, early painters, printmakers, and sculptors also strived to formulate an “American” art suited to the needs of the government and an increasingly diverse citizenry.

Three sessions. Registration – $125

Tricia Smith Scanlan is an independent art historian specializing in American art from 1700 to the present. In addition to teaching seminars at the Newberry, she is Adjunct Lecturer at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Materials List


  • Instructor-Distributed Materials.

First Reading:

  • There is no first reading assignment..

Cost and Registration Information 

Registration Information

Registration opens at 9 am (CST) on Wednesday, September 1st . Newberry Associates members at the Literati level and above will have access to early registration beginning August 25th at 10am. Learn more about membership benefits and becoming a Newberry Associate.

Please note: The Newberry is moving to a new registration system called Learning Stream. This will simplify the registration process for participants, instructors, and staff. For more information about registration, including a guide to online registration, see our Registration Information page. Questions? Please contact seminars program staff via email at seminars@newberry.org.

We offer a 10% discount to members, seniors, and students.

This seminar is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program. Learn more about registering for a seminar, program policies, or teaching a seminar.