By examining American art and artifacts from the museum’s collection, these teacher materials promote discussion of America’s national character and heritage.
William Sidney Mount (American, 1807-1868)
oil on canvas, Framed - h:67.00 w:78.00 d:7.50 cm (h:26 3/8 w:30 11/16 d:2 15/16 inches)
Unframed - h:43.40 w:53.50 cm (h:17 1/16 w:21 1/16 inches). Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1991.110
Set in rural Long Island before the Civil War, this scene of an African American laborer eavesdropping on a fiddle tune suggests the divisive race relations in America at the time. While a love of music connects the men and acknowledges their common humanity, they nevertheless occupy different spaces. The barn door that separates the laborer likely serves as a symbolic reminder that he lacked the political rights and social privileges of the group of white men inside.