American Stories

The exhibition is made possible by Alamo Rent A Car, The Marguerite and Frank A. Cosgrove Jr. Fund, The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Oceanic Heritage Foundation.

It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The catalogue is made possible by The William Cullen Bryant Fellows of the American Wing.

Education programs are made possible by The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.

Featured Media

Spectrum Presents: The Moth at the Met: American Stories

Program information

The Moth is a not-for-profit organization devoted to storytelling, whose programs feature the personal stories of people from all walks of life. In this spirit, we invited several speakers, including Moth StorySLAM champion Peter Aguero, musician Kyp Malone, This American Life contributor Starlee Kine, Witness to Hunger's Barbie Izquierdo, and artist Antony Zito to share their quintessential American story. The evening, hosted by author Jonathan Ames, was inspired by the special exhibitions American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915 and Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans.

Learn more about the exhibition American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915:

Learn more about the exhibition Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans:

Learn more about upcoming Events at the Met:

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American Stories

Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765–1915

October 12, 2009–January 24, 2010

Accompanied by a catalogue and an exhibition blog

Between the American Revolution and World War I, a group of British colonies became states, the frontier pushed westward to span the continent, a rural and agricultural society became urban and industrial, and the United States—reunified after the Civil War under an increasingly powerful federal government—emerged as a leading participant in world affairs. Throughout this complicated, transformative period, artists recorded American life as it changed around them. Many of the nation's most celebrated painters—John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, William Sidney Mount, George Caleb Bingham, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, John Sloan, and George Bellows—along with their lesser-known colleagues captured the temperament of their respective eras, defining the character of Americans as individuals, citizens, and members of ever-widening communities.

American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765–1915 presents tales artists told about their times and examines how their accounts reflect shifting professional standards, opportunities for study, foreign prototypes, venues for display, and viewers' expectations. Excluding images based on history, myth, or literature, the exhibition emphasizes instead those derived from artists' firsthand observation, documentation, and interaction with clients. These paintings are analogous to original—not adapted—screenplays. Recurring themes such as childhood, marriage, family, and community; the notion of citizenship; attitudes toward race; the frontier as reality and myth; and the process and meaning of making art illuminate the evolution of American artists' approach to narrative.