Through their successfully waged war and also by their novel political strategies, eighteenth-century North Americans seeking home rule made history. By systematically organizing around a refusal of British goods and developing a new national taste, they politicized the everyday. Twenty years later, this politicization was reprised in the French Revolution. Whereas the new American aesthetic was defined by sobriety and domestic production, the forms generated in the French Revolutionary decade combined the symbols of Republicanism with styles connoting non-aristocratic values. The likeness and difference of the role of culture, domesticity, and gender in the American and French revolutions are represented in their iconic forms—homespun for the United States and the dress of the sans-culottes for France. Both revolutions were characterized by a consistent investment in material culture and everyday life, and gave rise to new political cultures. This reformulation is best conceptualized using the term “cultural revolution.”
Martha J. McNamara
In the two decades following the American Revolution, the art and architecture of the United States were hounded by questions about the role of art in a republican society. The problem facing aspiring artists and architects during those years was how to establish committed patronage for the arts. Not surprisingly, eighteenth-century art and architecture in Britain's North American colonies largely reflected English aesthetic trends. The consumer revolution not only encouraged the demand for portraiture, but also fueled a market in the British colonies for printed books, periodicals, and engravings. Architectural publications occupied a central place in this surge in the distribution of print. Aside from securing patronage, American designers struggled with provincialism in the early republic. Artists such as Charles Willson Peale and John Trumbull hoped to encourage the republic by educating its citizenry.