Talking It Over, 1872
Enoch Wood Perry (American, 1831–1915)
Oil on canvas; 22 1/4 x 29 1/4 in. (56.5 x 74.3 cm)
Gift of Erving and Joyce Wolf, in memory of Diane R. Wolf, 1980 (1980.361)
Perry's canvases celebrated a way of American life that was fast disappearing and conjured happy childhood memories for urban audiences. The two New England or upstate New York farmers he portrays in this canvas represent icons of ideal American citizenry. Perry may have wished to offer more than a nostalgic reverie, however. His protagonists resemble George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who were often paired following Lincoln's assassination. By seating America's two most-admired farmer-patriot citizens in a barnlike interior, Perry also may have hoped to allude to the state of the "national barn," which, under President Ulysses S. Grant, was experiencing massive immigration, a continuing seismic shift of agriculture to the West, and unprecedented industrial and economic growth.