Proud lions, patriotic eagles, and solemn bulls -- not to mention prancing horses, majestic oak trees, and festive table settings -- graced the roadsides of colonial America. Painted onto wooden signboards and hung above the heads of passers-by, these colorful images communicated critical information, enabling local residents and travelers to find their way to commercial enterprises and civic gatherings. These signs, as they evolved from the eighteenth through the mid-nineteenth century, documented the radical shift from a pre-modern agricultural society to the entrepreneurial, market-driven, and increasingly urban economy of the early Republic.
Handsomely illustrated with over seventy color plates, this catalogue -- published in collaboration with a major traveling exhibition -- features works from The Connecticut Historical Society, which houses the nation's preeminent collection of early American painted inn signs. Eight essays, written by prominent scholars of American art and cultural history, explore the medium and discuss why these signs are much more than picturesque relics of bygone times. Indeed, this volume reconnects sign paintings to the broad continuum of artistic genres and practices within which they were produced, displayed, and viewed.
Both building on and recasting the rich legacy of "folk art", Lions and Eagles and Bulls provides a wealth of new information about these highly significant and well-loved objects to scholars, collectors, and art-lovers alike.
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