The Flood of Pictures in the Mid-Nineteenth Century


ACLS Fellowship Program


History of Art


In the middle of the nineteenth century, new technologies for making pictures and new appetites and uses for images fostered industrialized production and mass distribution. Pictures could now be produced in very large editions, and they were found in the pages of the illustrated press, on kiosks, on paper money, in photo albums, and domestic interiors. This project entails close examination of this formative moment, focusing primarily on developments in the United States as seen through lenses both art-historical and sociological. How do longstanding pictorial traditions change in response to industrial production and mass circulation? How do the social relations among individuals and groups change as they become increasingly mediated by pictures? What were the implications for art?