Daniel Huntington made many trips to Italy, where he was fascinated by the classical art and architecture. Many nineteenth-century American artists traveled to Italy to study the country’s rich cultural history and to sharpen their skills as painters and sculptors. In this painting, Huntington personified Italy as a young woman holding a sketchbook and paintbrush. The distant ruins to the left of the image symbolize the country’s rich past, while the Tuscan bell tower on the right represents the continuing influence of Catholicism. Female painters were rare during the nineteenth century, so perhaps Huntington intended the figure to represent an artist’s muse. He painted the girl bathed in warm, yellow light from the sunset, emphasizing his romantic, idealized view of Italy.
Credit Line: Text courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.