HOME
The Info List - American Progress


--- Advertisement ---



American Progress
American Progress
is an 1872 painting by John Gast, a Prussian-born painter, printer, and lithographer who lived and worked most of his life in Brooklyn, New York. American Progress, an allegory of Manifest Destiny, was widely disseminated in chromolithographic prints. It is now held by the Autry Museum of the American West
Autry Museum of the American West
in Los Angeles, California.[1] Other than he painted American Progress, and that he was born December 21, 1842, in Berlin, and died July 26, 1896, in Brooklyn,[2], little else is known about Gast's life. Description[edit] American Progress
American Progress
has become a seminal example of American Western art. The painting serves as an allegory for the Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny
and American westward expansion. The 12.75 by 16.75 inch painting was commissioned in 1872 by George Crofutt, a publisher of American Western travel guides, and has been frequently reproduced. The woman in the center is called "Progress", and on her head is what Crofutt calls "The Star of the Empire". Progress moves from the light-skied east to the dark and treacherous West, leading white settlers who follow her either on foot or by stagecoach, horseback, conestoga wagon, wagon train, or riding steam trains.[3] Progress lays a telegraph wire with one hand and carries a school book in the other. As she moves westward, indigenous people and a herd of buffalo are seen fleeing her and the settlers.[4] American Progress
American Progress
visually portrays the process of American westward expansion. The figure of Progress is ushering an era of modernization, development, and advancement to the West, which in the painting is portrayed as a dark and savage place, especially when compared to the eastern side of the painting. But, with the ushering in of these developments, the indigenous people living in the West and their way of life is cast out. American Progress
American Progress
is also an allegory of Frederick Jackson Turner's Frontier Thesis, the American Western history framework derived from his essay, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History". References[edit]

^ Museum website entry ^ Obituary in the Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Eagle, July 27, 1896, p. 7, c. 2 ^ "American Progress". Retrieved May 1, 2017.  ^ Sandweiss, Martha A. "John Gast, American Progress, 1872". Retrieved May 1, 2017. 

External links[edit]

Essay on Spirit of the frontier by historian Martha A. Sandweiss of Amherst College Includes high resolution version of the painting The Library of Congress -

Works by Gast from the Department of Drawings and Prints

Entry in Goulding's New York City directory (1877), listing him as GAST JOHN, artist & lithographer, 39 Park pl. h B'klyn Short biography, list of references, and examples of work on askart.com

Works by Gast in the general Catalog New approved method of zinc etching or photo-zinc-engraving (1886), by Gast

Beyond "American Progress": The Legacy of John Gast by Samanth

.