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American Figurative and Genre Paintings
Rooted in the tradition of the Dutch old master painters, American figurative and genre painting of the nineteenth century allowed artists to portray quotidian, contemporary life while also exploring the pressing social issues facing the nation, such as racism and poverty. Like their contemporaries, the Hudson River School painters, figurative and genre painters sought to invent a distinctly American art form. By creating archetypes of the American people and presenting them immersed in activities of everyday life, these artists were able to create a portrait of their growing nation. Oftentimes, these works explored nostalgic, rural life for the enjoyment of the swelling urban populations. The leading figurative and genre painters of this period include John George Brown, Thomas Eakins, Seymour Joseph Guy, Winslow Homer, Eastman Johnson, William Sydney Mount, and Enoch Wood Perry, Jr. The success of American figurative and genre painting influenced the famous Ashcan painters at the turn-of-the-century.