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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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Drawing Forth Spirits

Drawing Forth Spirits

(p.114) 4 Drawing Forth Spirits
City of Second Sight

Justin T. Clark

University of North Carolina Press

A decade after establishing the Athenaeum gallery, reformers’ concerns about the sensualism of public art exhibition culture led them to promote yet another source of moral instruction: amateur drawing. Still hoping to create a generation of pious and rational observers, Boston school reformers such as Elizabeth Peabody introduced drawing in the 1830s as a non-sectarian substitute for moral instruction. Simultaneously, industrial reformers promoted drawing at Boston’s popular artisan fair as a lingua franca for affluent connoisseurs and technically-minded mechanics. As drawing shifted from a polite art to a moral pursuit, critics feared the practice encouraged hollow mechanical imitation. Draughtsmen responded by embracing a more ethereal, Romantic visual idiom, transforming amateur drawing into a medium of Spiritualism and occultism.

Keywords:   Occultism, Spiritualism, Amateur Drawing, Romanticism, Elizabeth Peabody

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