Historical Fictions: Constructing the Past in Gilded-Age America

Edward Lamson Henry, A Philadelphia Doorway, 1882.

Edward Lamson Henry, A Philadelphia Doorway, 1882. Oil on panel. Yale University Art Gallery, Partial and promised gift of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew J. Goodman, B.S. 1968

The 14th Annual Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque Memorial Symposium was organized in conjunction with the exhibition Historical Fictions: Edward Lamson Henry’s Paintings of Past and Present. In the aftermath of the Civil War, painters, photographers, decorative artists, and authors dedicated themselves to exploring America’s past. The “historical fictions” that they created remade the past, constructing memory to suit contemporary needs. Speakers at the symposium discussed notions of time, permanence, progress, nostalgia, and authenticity in the works of the American genre painter Edward Lamson Henry and his artistic and literary contemporaries, including Thomas Eakins, James Wells Champney, the Allen sisters, Wallace Nutting, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Sarah Orne Jewett. The Oswaldo Rodriguez Roque Memorial Lecture was presented by Michael Kammen, the Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture at Cornell University, and the Cardozo Visiting Professor of History at Yale University.