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A German Immigrant Inquiring His Way (work of art)

Artwork Info

Artist Details
American
1824-1900
Medium
Painting
Created
1855
Dimensions
36 1/8 x 29 in.
(91.8 x 73.7 cm)

About

Throughout the nineteenth century, the rising tide of immigrants—especially from non-English speaking Europe—increasingly alarmed many native-born Americans. In the 1850s the short-lived American Party (popularly known as the Know-Nothings) gained national prominence by its virulent opposition to foreign immigration.This is the unsettling context for an otherwise amusing encounter between the Old World and the New. The father of a family, presumably just off the boat, stops to ask directions of an elderly black laborer. At the time this picture was painted, many people would have viewed both the German and the African American as unwanted aliens and a threat to the nation’s social and political stability. Is the artist expecting us to sneer at the outlandishly dressed German, so naive as to ask a black man for directions? Or can this story of two “outsiders” be interpreted as an appeal for tolerance? And is it relevant that the artist’s father was a German immigrant?

tags: narrative

 

 

Images

  • Blauvelt A German Immigrant Inquiring His Way 1855

    A German Immigrant Inquiring His Way by Charles Felix Blauvelt