Poking Fun: Political Puns and Social Satire in the Genre Paintings of William Sidney Mount
Thursday, March 27, 2014
12:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m.
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This lecture by Elizabeth Kahn Kaplan is part of King Manor Museum's free lecture series, Talking about History. Co-presented with York College's Political Science Discipline.
Nineteenth century relations between the sexes, abolitionist preaching, political chicanery, all were grist for visual puns incorporated into seemingly simple scenes of country life on Long Island. Mount's neighbors and upwardly mobile city patrons readily "got" his subtle - and not so subtle - jokes, sometimes with a subtext about the political role of freed slaves. Presidential campaigns in the late 1830s and early 1840s had deteriorated into manipulation of carefully chosen symbols, and Mount exploited these in his art. Mount's "insider" jokes, double entendres, puns, and political humor will motivate discussion about the political and social themes of Mount's day. What is represented by the boy tickling a sleeping black man with a straw in Farmers Nooning, 1836? What does the trap represent in Catching Rabbits, 1839? Discovery of Mount's sharp wit adds another dimension to appreciation of his art.
This Speakers in the Humanities event, which is free and open to the public, is made possible through the support of the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.