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Compass and Clock: Defining Moments in American Culture

Wilmerding, John

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ISBN 10: 0810940965 / ISBN 13: 9780810940963
Published by Harry N. Abrams, U.S.A., 1999
New Condition: New Hardcover

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Compass and Clock: Defining Moments in ...

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Covering literature, art, architecture and music, this book discusses the evolution of American culture - art, literature, architecture and music. It includes stimulating analyses of masterworks from this period, from Moby Dick to the paintings of Thomas Eadkins.


As a professor at Princeton University, visiting curator at the Metropolitan Museum, and former deputy director of the National Gallery, John Wilmerding has established himself as a preeminent scholar of American art history. In his current work, Compass and Clock: Defining Moments in American Culture, Wilmerding steps beyond the parameters of the strictly art-historical and offers a fresh perspective on American intellectual history. Compass and Clock focuses on three turning points in American history, the years around 1800, 1850, and 1900, and examines how their literary, architectural, and art-historical forces synergize and embody the mood of the expanding and maturing nation.

Placing important works of literature, architecture, and visual arts in their cultural context, Wilmerding skillfully demonstrates how America expressed itself as it evolved as a nation in the 19th century. For example, by juxtaposing close readings of MelvilleMoby Dick and Whitman's Leaves of Grass with discussion of formal and iconographical elements of Robert Mills's Washington Monument and the landscapes of Hugh Lane, he shows how each embodies the sense of expansiveness, self-confidence, and flourishing prosperity that defined America's self-image around 1850. Wilmerding proves himself equally comfortable and adept at literary examination and political analysis as he is at examination of visual arts and architecture. Extensive quotations from books and reproductions of paintings under analysis supplement the study. At the same time academically rigorous and conversational in tone, Compass and Clock provides important clues to the evolution of the U.S. as a nation and people. --Bertina Loeffler Sedlack

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