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City of Second SightNineteenth-Century Boston and the Making of American Visual Culture$
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Justin T. Clark

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469638737

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469638737.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 17 November 2019

Looking Past Disorder

Looking Past Disorder

Chapter:
(p.50) 2 Looking Past Disorder
Source:
City of Second Sight
Author(s):

Justin T. Clark

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469638737.003.0003

By the 1830s, the urban renewal project discussed in the previous chapter only further revealed the intractable messiness of the urban landscape. A decade of gentrification exacerbated anxiety about whether the city’s sites and edifices could compete with surrounding topographical and human congestion. The champions of improvement sought to ease their doubts by commissioning images that abstracted, obscured, or shrank into insignificance the disorder surrounding urban landmarks. Yet even as these ideal representations of the city proliferated, Bostonians questioned whether their fellow spectators saw moral landmarks as intended. A middle-class culture of novels, guidebooks, periodicals, plays, and other sources introduced a new typology of spectators—the connoisseur and the poseur, the vista seeker and the speculator, the libertine and the sentimentalist—who revealed their true characters through their divergent reactions to the city’s monuments, parks, galleries, paintings, and sculptures.

Keywords:   Antebellum urban views, Sentimentalism, Lithography, Associationism, Boston artists

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