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12.13.01 Poesch, Jessie, The Art of the Old South: Painting, Architecture, and the Products of Craftsmanship, 1560-1860, published in 1989

About the Author

Jessie Poesch is professor emeritus of art history at Tulane University.  Her publications also include Newcombe Pottery: Art Enterprises of Southern Women, 1895-1940.

Our Review

The Art of the Old South encompasses architecture, painting, sculpture, and the products of craftsmen. We are given a tour of a great variety of private and public buildings-from the formal mansions and elegant townhouses that followed English fashion to the raised cottages and country houses with open porches and galleries that evolved in the region; from the slave cabin to the classic columned plantation house; as well as other structures that are of architectural interest, including churches, statehouses, banks, and hotels.

Poesch’s study of the paintings of the South include both celebrated and little-known works. Here are renderings of flora and fauna by John White, Mark Catesby, William Bartram, and John James Audubon; landscapes and city views by John Chapman, T. Addison Richards, and Hippolyte Sebron; Family portraits of the newly prosperous Southerners of the 1700s and 1800s by Jeremaih Theus, Joshua Johnson, and Thomas Sully; history paintings; nineteenth century miniatures; early genre art; and much more.

Included in a study of sculpture are statues of public figures from colonial times to the eve of the Civil War, privately commissioned portrait busts, gravestones, and memorials.

Also explored are the products of craftsmen-furniture, silver, needlework, and pottery. Here are the simplest handmade objects, as well as the high-style work of artisans in Baltimore, Charleston, and New Orleans. Highlighted are regional specialties such as sugar chests, hunt boards, and silver trophies.

The Art of the Old South is a richly informative volume written with authority and grace. Both a history of art and of the Old South, this handsome, intelligently written volume will be a treasured edition among art lovers.

Availability of this Book

This book is readily available, including from where an inexpensive used copy is suggested.

Jeff Wolverton