Cider Making, 1840–41
William Sidney Mount (American, 1807–1868)
Oil on canvas; 27 x 34 1/8 in. (68.6 x 86.7 cm)
Purchase, Bequest of Charles Allen Munn, by exchange, 1966 (66.126)
Mount usually recorded familiar activities that occurred in his hometown of Setauket, Long Island. Yet savvy viewers would have seen through this painting's simple message of rural work to its clues about the political maneuvering surrounding the hard-fought presidential election of 1840. The cider makers' down-home simplicity was evoked by the Whig Candidate, William Henry Harrison, who campaigned as a common man claiming to prefer a log cabin and hard cider to the alleged excesses enjoyed by the incumbent, Martin Van Buren. By including the date conspicuously on the cider barrel in the foreground, Mount calls attention to his scene's political content.