I do not recall us talking about this painting in class yet, but when I am on the internet it sure seems to appear quite a lot. In fact I was looking about analyzing this photo before I found it in the gallery. There is just so much going on in this painting by Emmanuel Leutze that I think it holds a lot of interest.
The main thing that interests me about this photo is that there are a lot of opposites contained within it. These comparisons and how they are read is what I like about it the most. The first thing I noticed about the photo is the coloration of it. It contains great deals of golden yellows oranges and blues, so it has this warm vs cool feel to the image. To most people the warmer side of the photo is going to be the most welcoming which just happens to be the side that I suppose would be depicted as the “wilderness” The main subject of this painting I suppose would be the people traveling toward this wilderness with the expectation to colonize. These people obviously look greatly worn by their long journey which we can tell by the fact their slumped posture and the woman on the right side mourning over what one can assume is a deceased family member or acquaintance. They are leaving the colder side of the painting and going toward the more welcoming side that shows the land as if making this journey through the wilderness will give them a better life than the one they previously had before. This is different from some of the other paintings we looked at in class. In this photo we see that the wilderness is a good thing. It is giving the travelers hope of a better future. In some of the other photos we looked at in class, the wilderness was made out to be a terrible place that looked far to violent and dark to even be considered as a place that others should travel too. For an example and reference I’ll post this photo we already viewed in class and should know about.
See the first photo by Leutze is indeed a lot more welcoming. This shows a difference of opinions through the years when they were painted.
In Leutze’s painting I think the travelers were painted in such a way that whoever is viewing the painting sympathizes with them. They seem to be “innocent party”. I say this because the artist gives the viewer more information about them. We see that they have been traveling. There is a group of them, which is usually easier to sympathize with because in a lot of cases people will say that it makes more sense to sacrifice one person if it save a group of people, and there is only one native that I notice in the painting to compare them too. The travelers are obviously using a great deal of energy to make it over this rough terrain and we can even see the men working hard to clear a path so that they may continue on their journey. Lastly, the women have children and like I mentioned earlier we can see that one woman who has already lost a loved one while trying to gain that better life I talked about. All this information adds up to make them seem like they are justified in whatever they do. Even if it means that they have to fight a couple of “savages” -who were painted in a pose as if they are ready to fight making them seems threatening to the viewer- or if they have to destroy the land around them to get to a better place. It seems like we have to feel for them, I mean they clearly have traveled a long way.
I’m just saying that I don’t think this painting is not giving a whole story. We don’t know why they left the place they did. They could have just felt like exploring or maybe they already used up all the resources they had available to them there and had to find another place to go. We also do not know the story of the native shown in the picture. Maybe they are taking away the land the natives use and the native is really the one who should feel threatened or maybe the travelers are the innocent party in photo and have no choice in the matter. After analyzing this painting I just feel like it raises a lot more questions and controversy for me.