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Speculative Landscapes offers the first comprehensive account of American artists’ financial involvements in and creative responses to the nineteenth-century real estate economy. Examining the dealings of five painters who participated actively in this economy—Daniel Huntington, John Quidor, Eastman Johnson, Martin Johnson Heade, and Winslow Homer—Ross Barrett argues that the experience of property investment exposed artists to new ways of seeing and representing land, inspiring them to develop innovative figural, landscape, and marine paintings that radically reworked visual conventions. This approach moved beyond just aesthetics, however, and the book traces how artists creatively interrogated the economic, environmental, and cultural dynamics of American real estate capitalism. In doing so, Speculative Landscapes reveals how the provocative experience of land investment spurred painters to produce uniquely insightful critiques of the emerging real estate economy, critiques that uncovered its fiscal perils and social costs and imagined spaces outside the regime of private property.
About the Author
Ross Barrett is Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture at Boston University. He is the author of Rendering Violence: Riots, Strikes, and Upheaval in Nineteenth-Century American Art and the coeditor, with Daniel Worden, of Oil Culture.