Picturing Thoreau

Picturing Thoreau : Henry David Thoreau in American Visual Culture

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This book examines, in detail, about 30 portraits of Henry David Thoreau that were done by American artists between 1854 and the present day. It becomes clear from this study that although Thoreau's features have been "used" in a bewildering variety of ways to convey a host of messages (some of which would have dismayed him), there is a remarkable consistency, and relevance for us today, in what he was trying to convey to his fellow Americans.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 159 x 235 x 22mm | 479.99g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 29 black & white halftones
  • 0739189069
  • 9780739189061

Review quote

Sullivan is incisive about how and why people portrayed Thoreau and the uses they made of those images...It is an enjoyable and informative book, one that both provides solid information on many images as well as challenges us to respond to Sullivan's interpretation of them. Resources for American Literary Study Sullivan is the first art historian to study Thoreau's changing reputation over the years...Sullivan organizes his study chronologically, using images of Thoreau made during his lifetime, friends' depictions of his appearance, and a useful checklist of known portraits of Thoreau from 1854 to 2013. American Literature Gathered in one volume, this selection of portraits of Thoreau, especially those done from life with Thoreau's collaboration, is a useful compendium. New England Quarterly What [the author] set out to do, and he does it well, is to present Thoreau as a pivotal and seminal figure who, like Abraham Lincoln, came to be portrayed in paintings, prints, photographs, and cartoons, as a symbol and reflection of the ideological or political point the artist supported... Sullivan has done an excellent job in examining our icons and heroes in just the way we need to do in contemporary American Cultural Studies. Journal of American Culture Playful, rumpled, hostile, haunted, heroic: in this rich and surprising history, Mark Sullivan has combed through a vast archive of images to show how America has imagined Henry D. Thoreau from his day to our own-from idealistic poet, to craggy rebel, to ancient prophet. Using images drawn from children's literature and high art, cartoons, murals, sculptures, and more, Sullivan's cavalcade of Henrys down through nearly two centuries reveals how Thoreau has long been a figure good to think with-both an index to a changing national mood-and a provocation to keep on imagining who we are today, and who we might become.-Laura Dassow Walls, University of Notre Dame -- Laura Dassow Walls, William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English, University of Notre Dame From the mirror of the daguerreotype, to a myriad of sketches and sculptures, to the vilified 1967 U.S. postage stamp, Mark Sullivan gives an in-depth look at images of this iconic figure by the few artists who knew him and the many who didn't, showing that who we see when we see Thoreau differs dramatically from age to age and from artist to artist. A needed and long-overdue portrait of the artist.-Jeffrey S. Cramer, editor of The Portable Thoreau and Walden: A Fully-Annotated Edition -- Jeffrey S. Cramer, editor of The Portable Thoreau and Walden: A Fully-Annotated Edition Mark Sullivan provides a timely and comprehensive overview of the various visual representations of Thoreau's likeness since 1854. Picturing Thoreau: Henry David Thoreau in American Visual Culture charts interesting new ground in Thoreau studies; it locates the author's fame within popular culture and redraws his characterization as a symbolic champion of the environment, and of American individualism. Thoreau's name and face, Sullivan demonstrates, have not always been in a manner consistent with the author's original intent, and have been used to support causes as diverse as American isolationism, the American Civil Rights Movement, environmentalism, the Restoration movement's belief in the therapeutic impact of walking, and even the recent Occupy Wall Street movement. The book includes a very useful and extensive checklist of Thoreau images dating from 1854 to the present.-Joy Sperling, Denison University -- Joy Sperling, Denison Universityshow more

About Mark W. Sullivan

Mark Sullivan is associate professor of art history and director of the Art History program at Villanova University.show more

Table of contents

Table of Contents Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter One: Images of Thoreau from His Own Lifetime (1817-1862) Chapter Two: Thoreau's Memory Kept Alive by a Few Friends (1862-1917) Chapter Three: Thoreau Starts his Rise to Prominence (1917-1939) Chapter Four: Thoreau Takes Center Stage (1940-1967) Chapter Five: Multiple Visions of Thoreau (1968-Present) Epilogue Appendix A: Checklist of Thoreau Images (1854-2013) Appendix B: Timeline of Key Events in the Development of Thoreau's Reputation Bibliography Illustration Credits About the Authorshow more