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Political Popularity

In: Other Topics

Submitted By sgadberry
Words 1181
Pages 5
Shonda Gadberry
October 9, 2011
American Art History
Dr. Joshua Fisher

Political Popularity In 1829, Andrew Jackson took office as the President of the United States of America. During his term as president, Andrew Jackson introduced the spoils system. The spoils system is where the victorious party would replace most of the upper class with people that were loyal to it. This was a way of rewarding political supporters with patronage. Although Jackson had never liked holding public office, he had served in several different positions during his career. He served in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, he was the governor of Florida for a short time and then in the Senate later. He left each position shortly after he took office. Even before he was elected president, he showed signs of being a ‘people person.’ He possessed qualities of firmness, passion, and shrewdness. These were all qualities that the people wanted in the leader of their country. The painting by Francis William Edmunds, The City and the Country Beaux, is an exaggerated genre scene. In the painting, we can see the woman that is being courted by two very different men. The man on the left is from the country, while the man on the right is from the city. In this painting, the country man is shown to be seated in a vulgar manner with his legs spread open wide. His clothes look like they are made by hand and he seems to be quite relaxed without a care in the world. The man from the city, on the other hand, appears to be wearing expensive, store bought clothes. He is portrayed in more of a polite and respectful manner. Voters said that Jackson would be the people’s president, that the nation would be undivided, and that there would be no difference in the Yankee nation or the confused population of the South. This painting shows the political differences between the North and the South during the time it was created. Although The City and the Country Beaux was painted after Jackson was already out of office, it is obvious that there is still a big difference in how the north and the south were portrayed. Jackson was not a well educated man. His grammar was bad and he could not read well. In the south, he was considered a hero with a gentleman’s code of honor. The code of honor came when he was challenged and challenged other men to duel’s. His opponents thought that he was a violent, ignorant man that was politically inexperienced. The farmer in the painting could be a portrayal of how northerners perceived Andrew Jackson. He appears to be a sluggish man with little or no intelligence. If the viewer considers how relaxed and laid back the farmer is, it could be taken that he has little respect for himself or for the woman that he is courting. His attitude may also be showing how unaffected he is by the presence of the man from the city. He does not seem to be bothered by this man at all, much the same way that Andrew Jackson was not bothered by John Quincy Adams. His size, however, may suggest that he is a strong, courageous man. This may lead the viewer back to Jackson, who was seen as a hero to his voters, and as a strong man that would endure almost anything. William Sidney Mount took a different approach when he painted, The Power of Music. In this piece, three men are shown inside a stable playing music while a man stands just outside listening. The three men inside are noticeably white and the man outside is African American. This is just one of the many differences in the men. The men inside the stable are dressed in finer clothing with nice hats and shoes. They seem as if they do not have a care in the world aside from listening to the music that one of the men is creating with his violin. They seem to be relaxed and just enjoying the moment. Since they are inside the stable, they are out of the weather and at least shielded somewhat. The man standing outside the stable does seem to be relaxed. He catches the viewer’s eye because he is separate from the other three men. The viewer can tell that the African American is a working man, however the viewer cannot tell if the man is a slave or not. He is dressed completely different than the three men inside the stable. He is wearing a big coat, long overall’s, and work boots. An axe and a jug filled with something are located on the ground beside him. As I stated earlier, he does seem to be relaxed and caught up in the music that is coming out of the stable. Something else that is clear is that the man is standing outside the door just out of eyesight of the three men inside the stable. When The Power of Music was painted, slavery was still a major issue. The man is not portrayed as a slave because slavery was a topic that was avoided by the Art Union. It was too important to be kept out of paintings altogether, though. African American men and women were usually painted in a light-hearted context, as the man in The Power of Music was. This piece shows the distinction between not only the classes, but the races also. The men seated inside the stable could be seen as wealthy men that could afford to be idle. The man outside the stable is seen as being a worker with a hard life. The different distinctions between the classes are the rich and the poor, those that have to do manual labor to make a living and those that have others do their manual labor for them. During the time that Andrew Jackson was running for president of the United States, there were various rumors being spread. Among them was that Jackson’s mother was a common prostitute that married a Mulatto man. This was the man with whom she bore Andrew Jackson and that she also bore an older child that was sold into slavery in South Carolina. It is safe to say that if Andrew Jackson was of an African American bloodline, he would not have been a supporter of slavery. Looking at the paintings, The City and the Country Beaux by Francis William Edmunds and The Power of Music by William Sidney Mount, the viewer can see that they are different yet very similar. In The City and the Country Beaux, the viewer is drawn to the difference in the class of the two men. In The Power of Music, the viewer can see that the difference is not only in the class of the two men, but also in their race. Both artists were able to portray the differences without being overly dramatic. The paintings are both done in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to the viewer.…...

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