American Art · American Art of the Week · Art History

American Art of the Week: World’s Columbian Exposition by Theodore Robinson

robinson-theodore-worlds-columbian-exposition
World’s Columbian Exposition by Theodore Robinson, 1894. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Photo via Wikimedia Commons[public domain].
Theodore Robinson (1852-1896) was one of the first American impressionist painters, and he painted at the Giverny, France artists’ colony alongside Claude Monet.* This particular painting, one of his late works, is perhaps not as characteristic of his usual style as his earlier rural landscapes. However, I chose it because of its subject matter – the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. I recently did some research on the exposition for another project and was amazed by the vast quantity of architecture and infrastructure that went into putting together this massive world’s fair. All of the beautiful buildings in this painting were designed and constructed specifically for the Exposition, and many were demolished afterwards. I love Robinson’s cheery, slightly-romanticized depiction of the so-called “White City”, because it is such a fitting representation of the bright-eyed idealism that motivated the entire endeavor.

*Gerdts, William H. American Impressionism. New York & London: Abbeville Press, 1984. p.31-32.

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