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Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (mural study, U.S. Capitol) by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze / American Art
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Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (mural study, U.S. Capitol)

1861 Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze Born: Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany 1816 Died: Washington, District of Columbia 1868 oil on canvas 33 1/4 x 43 3/8 in. (84.5 x 110.1 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Sara Carr Upton 1931.6.1 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, East Wing



Gallery Label

Leutze's mural study for the Capitol in Washington celebrated the idea of Manifest Destiny just when the Civil War threatened the republic. The surging crowd of figures records the births, deaths, and battles fought as European Americans settled the continent to the edge of the Pacific. Like Moses and the Israelites who appear in the ornate borders of the painting, these pioneers stand at the threshold of the Promised Land, ready to fulfill what many nineteenth-century Americans believed was God's plan for the nation.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006

Research Notes

Read research notes for Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (mural study, U.S. Capitol). (pdf)

Keywords

Allegory - other - civilization

Ethnic - Indian

Figure(s) in exterior - frontier

History - United States - westward expansion

Study - mural study

Travel - land - stagecoach

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze

Born: Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany 1816 Died: Washington, District of Columbia 1868

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Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze