Tuesday, September 27, 2011
John Gast, "American Progress," 1872.
This painting shows "Manifest Destiny" (the religious belief that the United States should expand from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean in the name of God). In 1872 artist John Gast painted a popular scene of people moving west that captured the view of Americans at the time. Called "Spirit of the Frontier" and widely distributed as an engraving portrayed settlers moving west, guided and protected by a goddess-like figure of Columbia and aided by technology (railways, telegraphs), driving Native Americans and bison into obscurity. It is also important to note that angel is bringing the "light" as witnessed on the eastern side of the painting as she travels towards the "darkened" west.