American Renaissance

In the history of American architecture and the arts, the American Renaissance was the period from 1876 to 1917 characterized by renewed national self-confidence and a feeling that the United States was the heir to Greek democracy, Roman law, and Renaissance humanism. The American preoccupation with national identity (or New Nationalism) in this period was expressed by modernism and technology as well as academic classicism. It expressed its self-confidence in new technologies, such as the wire cables of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. It found its cultural outlets in both Prairie School houses and in Beaux-Arts architecture and sculpture, in the “City Beautiful” movement, and “also the creation of the American empire.” Americans felt that their civilization was uniquely the modern heir, and that it had come of age. Politically and economically, this era coincides with the Gilded Age and the New Imperialism.

The classical architecture of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893, was a demonstration that impressed Henry Adams, who wrote that people “would some day talk about Hunt and Richardson, La Farge and Saint-Gaudens, Burnham and McKim and Stanford White when their politicians and millionaires were quite forgotten.” (The Education of Henry Adams ).

In the dome of the reading room at the new Library of Congress, Edwin Blashfield’s murals were on the given theme, The Progress of Civilization.

The exhibition American Renaissance: 1876–1917 at the Brooklyn Museum, 1979, encouraged the revival of interest in this movement.

The dates chosen for this era coincide with the Centennial Exposition, the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the United States entry into World War I.

The prevailing employment of the US population at that time, with its national identity and nationalism , was expressed through both modernity and technology as well as academic classicism . People were convinced of new technologies, such as the cable construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York . Culturally, this epoch was largely reflected in Prairie Houses and Beaux Arts architecture and art, as well as the City Beautiful movement and the “establishment of the American Empire.” The Americans felt that their civilization had become very modern and at the same time grown up. Politically and economically, this era coincides with the Gilded Age and neo-imperialism .

The World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 impressed Henry Brooks Adams , who was convinced that, in the future, people would continue to talk about Richard Morris Hunt , Henry Hobson Richardson , John La Farge and Augustus Saint-Gaudens . Daniel Burnham , Charles Follen McKim and Stanford White would talk when contemporary politicians and millionaires are almost forgotten.

In the dormitory of the reading room of the new Library of Congress, there are mural paintings by Edwin Blashfield on the subject of the progress of civilization .

Notable examples
American Renaissance is a cultural and stylistic current that has manifested itself in the architecture and the arts of the United States , in a period that goes roughly between 1870 and 1920, and has been fueled by a feeling of self-esteem of its own nation that was considered the heir of Greek democracy , Roman law and Renaissance humanism . This sort of classicist revivalism in some respects derives or is very similar to the Classicism of the École des Beaux-Arts , so it is a form of late neoclassicism with eclectic connotations .

One of the most magnificent examples of the American Renaissance is the Washington Library of Congress building designed by architects John L. Smithmeyer and Paul J. Peltz and inaugurated on November 1, 1897 .

Cuyahoga County Courthouse, 1906-1912
The exterior includes sculpture by Karl Bitter, Daniel Chester French, Herbert Adams, Isidore Konti and Herman Matzen while the interior contains murals by Frank Brangwyn, Violet Oakley, Charles Yardley Turner, Max Bohm and Frederick Wilson. A stained glass window was designed and executed by Frederick Wilson and Charles Schweinfurth.
The Thomas Jefferson Building (1890-1897) headquarters of the Library of Congress in Washington .
The Thomas Jefferson Building in a postcard from the early twentieth century
Statue of Talete, by Louis St. Gaudens , in the Union Station in Washington
The staircase of the Chicago Union Station , 1925
The Administrative Palace of the Chicago Universal Exhibition , 1893.
The Villa Vizcaya in Miami .
Villa Vizcaya particular external.

American renaissance in literature
The American Renaissance period in American literature ran from about 1830 to around the Civil War. A central term in American studies, the American Renaissance was for a while considered synonymous with American Romanticism and was closely associated with Transcendentalism.

Scholar F. O. Matthiessen originated the phrase “American Renaissance” in his 1941 book American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman. The thematic center of the American Renaissance was what Matthiessen called the “devotion” of all five of his writers to “the possibilities of democracy”. He presented the American Renaissance texts as “literature for our democracy” and challenged the nation to repossess them.

Often considered a movement centered in New England, the American Renaissance was inspired in part by a new focus on humanism as a way to move from Calvinism. Literary nationalists at this time were calling for a movement that would develop a unique American literary style to distinguish American literature from British literature. Walter Channing in a November 1815 issue of the North American Review called for the people to form “a literature of our own”, which was later echoed by other literary critics. Following this call, there was a wave of literary nationalism in America for much of the 1820s that saw writers such as Washington Irving, William Cullen Bryant, and James Fenimore Cooper become the identity of writers worthy of American literature. From this wave of literary nationalism the American Renaissance can be seen as being born.

There are many criticisms associated with the American Renaissance, and some critics question if it ever actually took place. One of the most prominent criticisms is that authors during this period are seen as simply taking styles and ideas from past movements and culture and reforming them into new, contemporary works.

Some critics say that authors fail to address major political issues during this period, such as slavery, even as they had large influence on the writing of the time. There is also criticism that women authors and women’s issues were generally left out of discussion and publication.

The notion of an American Renaissance has been criticized for overemphasizing a small number of white male writers and artifacts of high culture. William E. Cain noted the “extreme white male formation” of Matthiessen’s list of authors and stated that by “devoting hundreds of pages of analysis and celebration to five white male authors, Matthiessen unwittingly prefigured in his book what later readers would dispute and labor to correct.”

Some critics argue that literature written by women during this period was not as popular as first thought, and that it took a distant second place in popularity to works written by men. Matthiessen and other scholars are even known to exclude women and minority authors, especially African Americans. Critics also argue that there is no separate style or genre, such as sentimental-domestic fiction, distinguished by gender. However, other critics point out that the most read authors of the time were women, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Fanny Fern and criticize Matthiessen for not including women in the original canon.

The demographic exclusivity of the American Renaissance began eroding among scholars toward the end of the twentieth century. They have included Emily Dickinson in the canon; she started writing poetry in the late 1850s. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) rose to a prominent reputation in the late 1970s. African-American literature, including slave narratives by such masters as Frederick Douglass, and early novels by William Wells Brown, has gained increasing recognition.

Notable authors
Most often associated with the American Renaissance movement are Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Representative Men and Self-Reliance, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Most of the main writers associated with the American Renaissance were actually rather unknown during this time and had small followings.

Other authors were later added to this list and found to have contributed to this movement. These include: Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and John Greenleaf Whittier among others.

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