Leo Marx on the Lackawanna Valley

Apologies for the late posting of this chapter.  Read as much of it as you can before tomorrow’s class. We’ll be talking about it in tandem with George Inness’s Lackawanna Valley.

George Inness, The Lackawanna Valley, 1855

Leo Marx, “The Machine,” from his book,The Machine in the Garden.  Please note that the file size of this .PDF is huge, so it will take a while to download. My apologies, again.

The Lackawanna Valley is one of my favorite paintings of all time.  Like Gast’s American ProgressThe Lackawanna Valley straddles the territory between art and propaganda.  It was commissioned as an advertisement for several railroad companies.  As you read Marx’s chapter and look at this painting, think about it’s role in an emerging 19th century American industrial culture.  What pastoral tropes are represented here, and how?  What is this painting’s attitude toward technology?

Think about the visual trope of the man reclining on the hill in The Lackawanna Valley in comparison with visual representations of Virgil’s Eclogues.  An example is Samuel Palmer’s Till Vespers Bade the Swain (1879).


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