Washington Allston

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A Romantic artist who painted large-scale history paintings, portraits, landscapes, and smaller canvases derived from literary subjects, Washington Allston was a well-known figure in the visual arts on both sides of the Atlantic. Scholars have interpreted his most famous painting, 

Belshazzar’s Feast

(1817-43), as an allegory of the state of the arts in the early nineteenth-century United States. Despite financial support from admirers, Allston was unable to complete the ambitious work, signaling to some observers that American artists could not compete with those of Europe. Although best known as an artist, Allston was also a writer of fiction, poetry, and art theory.

Allston was born in South Carolina in 1779 to William Allston Jr., a significant landholder and slave owner, and Rachel

1553 words

Citation: Carso, Kerry. "Washington Allston". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 May 2010; last revised 08 April 2021. [https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=92, accessed 18 July 2024.]

92 Washington Allston 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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