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Allegories of America

April 29, 2017
November 13, 2017

Since the 19th century, the familiar figure of “Uncle Sam,” with his beard and stovepipe hat, has represented the U.S. in recruitment posters, political cartoons, and advertisements. But long before he first appeared, artists drew upon a visual tradition stretching back centuries to depict America as an evocative woman. Over time, the appearance of this allegorical female has varied widely. What does “America” look like? The answer depends on the people in power and how they define beauty and belonging. 

In this special installation, visitors can view a range of America’s depictions―from the exquisite 1840 terracotta sculpture Amerique, dressed in Native American attire, to the tiara designed by Italian jeweler Fulco di Verdura in the shape of a feather headdress and worn by Betsey Cushing Roosevelt Whitney when her husband was appointed ambassador to the Court of St. James in London in 1956, setting Mrs. Whitney apart from European aristocracy by emphasizing American identity.

Exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.



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Creative: Tronvig Group