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First News of the Battle of Lexington (work of art)

Información sobre la obra de arte

44 1/16 x 63 5/16 inches (111.9 x 160.8 centimeters)


Comprado con fondos del Estado de Carolina del Norte

Número de objeto
Americana a 1910

Ideas clave sobre esta obra de arte

  • In this scene messengers on horseback spread the news of the Battle of Lexington, Massachusetts. This was the first battle of the American Revolutionary War. Farmers and local shop workers are shown responding to the call to gather their weapons and fight the British.
  • This is an example of a genre painting, or a scene from everyday life. William Tylee Ranney was a genre painter known for his hunting pictures, western subjects, and historical scenes. His historical paintings show ordinary people responding to important events. He did not depict heroes or dramatic battle scenes in his work.
  • Ranney served in the Texas army in 1836, in the fight for independence from Mexico. The nine months he spent in Texas inspired many of his later paintings.
  • First News of the Battle of Lexington was painted 72 years after that war. Ranney created this painting during the Mexican-American War, in which Mexico and the United States fought over a piece of territory in Texas.

Más información

The skirmish between redcoats and minutemen at Lexington, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775, signaled the beginning of the Revolutionary War. More than seventy years later, rather than portray this episode as a heroic battle scene, Ranney captured the subsequent spreading news of war. A commentator wrote how “men galloped from town to town … calling to arms … for united action.”

Ranney’s vision of a valiant past is portrayed as a genre painting (a scene of everyday life), the most popular mode of depicting contemporary life and social hierarchies of his day. Created at the onset of the Mexican-American War (1846–48), his scene makes history accessible, stirring a new generation of Americans to fight for an expansionist spirit of “progress.”


Tags: Revolutionary War, communication, narrative

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  • A painting featuring three men on horseback, on a village road, gesturing toward something in the distance. Townspeople are shown coming out of nearby shops and houses. An empty wagon and additional figures on horseback are depicted on the right. There is a tall green tree on the left and a cloudy sky in the background.

    First News of the Battle of Lexington