Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bible Part of Our History in Art

For a long part of our history one could find references to our religious heritage in the media of the time. It was threaded throughout our textbooks, found in news articles, magazine articles, etc. More frequently today, though, we see articles that are skeptical of our religious roots. Has history changed?

Fortunately, our own Smithsonian Institution has been documenting and collecting our history for a long while. Below is a link to a piece from their collection, this one building on some cliches from everyday life in the past. It shows a man coming late at night and an impatient wife unexpectedly awake to "greet" him. The room is arranged typically of rooms at the time, and makes almost a "museum" of life in an American household. As we have all seen in comedies and cartoons, the man is tip-toeing in carrying his shoes, looking very uncomfortable to find his wife still awake. And using another cliche, the wife has a watch in one hand (showing 3am) and a prayer book in the other. A prayer book? Would the artist have thrown in something atypical of everyday life into such a depiction? Or might he simply be showing that a prayer book was standard equipment in the house of U.S. citizens?

See the print here, along with a full description:

Smithsonian Institution, Harry T. Peters Collection

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