The Arts

The Industrial Revolution reached America around the late 18th century, and soon spread in northern cities thanks to Samuel Slater’s knowledge of the textile industry. The Embargo Act of 1807 and the American presence in the War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars encouraged the United States to manufacture their own goods, as they were unable to get other goods at the time. By initially copying British factory technology, the Unites States was able to become an international economic leader. The greatest period of growth was in the end of the 19th century after the Civil War, when the majority of the nation shifted from agricultural economies to industrial producers, with the index of industrial production increasing from 4.29 in 1790 to 1,975 in 1913. The role of factories in the Boston area was an important source of employment to men and women young and old, with the first American factory being built by the Boston Manufacturing Company in 1813.

 

Workers in the Lowell Boott Mills were often women or children, and although conditions were poor the opportunity to earn a wage in the city often outweighed the costs to their health

Workers in the Lowell Boott Mills were often women or children, and although conditions were poor the opportunity to earn a wage in the city often outweighed the costs to their health

 

Due to its frequent contact with countries around the globe, the art of Boston had international influences. New items were shipped and delivered to Boston markets, and goods even began being produced in the city. Some of the items below were the most popular art forms traded in Boston, and are still important to the city today

  • Porcelain
Although it was of lesser quality, porcelain from the Boston area became desired internationally

Although it was of lesser quality, porcelain from the Boston area became desired internationally

 

Blue and white porcelains that most resembled those of China were most sought out in Boston markets

Blue and white porcelains that most resembled those of China were most sought out in Boston markets

Porcelain, or china, is a white ceramic that originated in China and used as a durable yet beautiful way to store liquids or even as a decorative piece. Its shine and strength made it desirable for any social class, yet its high price made it a high-society item. European expansion led to an increase of Oriental goods in Europe and its colonies, and it was handed down in American markets by the British. Eventually, porcelain was made in the US to fulfill economic demands, and while it was of a lesser quality, it was cheaper and even more desirable than porcelain from China. Salem, Massachusetts was a major producer of porcelain, making versatile plates, basins, and jugs for every day use. These pieces were sold in Boston markets and even shipped overseas to places like China, due to the high demand of cheaper prices from lower classes. Porcelains are still made in the area today, with most porcelain in the area being American-made.

 

  • Scrimshaw
Map of Boston circa 1775 carved onto whale bone, used as a powder horn during Revolutionary War

Map of Boston circa 1775 carved onto whale bone, used as a powder horn during Revolutionary War

Collection of scrimshaw carvings on whale bones depicting a woman, boat amongst other images

Collection of scrimshaw carvings on whale bones depicting a woman, boat amongst other images

Scrimshaw is the engraving or carving done on ivory or bones, but in Boston it traditionally refers to the artwork of whalers from byproducts left over from marine mammals after hunting. The most typical whales used were sperm whales, and scrimshaw art mostly involved bones and teeth. Light pigment is used over the engravings, occasionally with different colors to contrast different carvings. The practice was started as a hobby on whaling ships in the mid-1700s, and ended with the ban of whaling in 1986. Many whalers would come home and bring these pieces of art with them, and either sold them in Boston markets or kept them as decorative items for their homes. The detail and beauty of the pieces caused scrimshaw to become more popular nationwide, and the artwork became even more valuable in Boston markets where they first were sold. Commercial artisans even began to buy bone off whalers until whaling was made illegal.  Chinese traders also valued the artwork, and would pay high prices to have some in their own homes. Modern scrimshaw is seldom done on whale bone today, instead using ivory, pearl, or camel bone. While it is not practiced much today, scrimshaw artwork maintains its nautical imagery and can be found in museums of many port cities, like Boston.

  • Brass Instruments
Ad in newspaper in 1880 for the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactury

Ad in newspaper in 1880 for the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactury

 

Giuseppe Creatore and his Italian band were based in Boston, and were known to play on only Boston-made instruments

Giuseppe Creatore and his Italian band were based in Boston, and were known to play on only Boston-made instruments

In 1869, the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory was founded in Boston by two musicians and manufacturers, Graves and Wright. Brass bands and brass instruments had become increasingly popular in the 19th century, but production really took off in America after the Civil War. Prior to the war, manufacturers in Boston had been building high-quality instruments that were comparable to European imports, and eventually Boston became the center of instrument manufacturing in America, producing cheaper yet better instruments than international competitors. Brass bands had been popular before the war and became even more popular after, and new kinds of music, such as polkas, gallops, and waltzes were composed by Americans and Europeans. This new kind of entertainment could be enjoyed by all social classes, uniting both sides of the country after the devastating losses of the Civil War. Music acted as a way to boost moral and bring the nation together again, and Boston was the center of brass instrument manufacturing for the world.

 

You can listen to some traditional brass music here – Civil War Era Brass Music

 

Sources used on this page –

“Art and Literature.” Art and Literature. McMullen Museum of Art, 2000. Web. 18 Apr. 2015. <http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/artmuseum/exhibitions/archive/artlit.html>.
Cole, Randy. “Civil War Eb Alto Trumpet W/ Allan Dean.” YouTube. YouTube, 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TVXea4_KKA>.
Martz, Dick. “Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory.” Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory. Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory, 2011. Web. 18 Apr. 2015. <http://www.rjmartz.com/horns/boston_037/bmim.html>.
“National Historic Landmarks Program (NHL).” National Historic Landmarks Program (NHL). National Historic Landmarks Program, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. <http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=1734&ResourceType=District>.
Rhodes, Stephen. “6 The Nineteenth-Century American Wind Band.” A History of the Wind Band: The Nineteenth-Century American Wind Band. Lipscomb University, 2007. Web. 18 Apr. 2015. <http://www.lipscomb.edu/windbandhistory/rhodeswindband_06_19thcenturyamerican.htm>.
“Salem’s International Trade.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, Apr. 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nps.gov/sama/learn/historyculture/trade.htm>.
“Scrimshaw Gallery.” Scrimshaw Gallery. Scrimshaw Gallery, 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2015. <http://www.scrimshawgallery.com/cgi-bin/webstore/shop.cgi?c=start.htm&t=main.index.htm&storeid=1>.
“Spread of the Industrial Revolution.” Spread of the Industrial Revolution. Clemson University, 6 Feb. 2015. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. <http://www.clemson.edu/caah/history/FacultyPages/PamMack/lec122sts/hobsbawm7.html>.

 

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