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America's First Painter Of the People

William Sidney Mount forever changed the face of American painting. In the early 19th century, most American artists still followed the European model. They painted scenes from history, mythology, literature, and the Bible. But Mount, a Long Island farmer's son, became famous for painting everyday scenes in a realistic manner.

Mount is widely credited as the inventor of American genre painting. His work focused on rustic settings and often was inspired by contemporary stories and jokes. Men and boys people most of his paintings, which helped define the young republic and introduce Americans to themselves. "Long Island Farmer Husking Corn," painted 1833-34, exemplified the Yankee type and became a national symbol.

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Mount won critical and popular acclaim for his warm, nostalgic paintings. He attracted so many patrons, he could not keep up with their requests.

"William Sidney Mount: Painter of American Life" explores four decades of the artist's work. The show, organized by the Museums at Stony Brook (N.Y.) and the American Art Federation, is on view at the New York Historical Society through Oct. 25.

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