Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Philadelphia
PA

Interior view of the Historic Landmark Building

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Founded by Charles Willson Peale, William Rush, and others in 1805, this is the oldest art museum/school in the U.S. Includes works by Charles Willson Peale, William Rush, Benjamin West, Rembrandt Peale, Gilbert Stuart, and Thomas Sully.

The Historic Landmark Building houses mostly 18th and 19th century American art. Next door, the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building offers modern, contemporary, and student art.

The Revolutionary leaders never intended to create an original and peculiar indigenous culture. Despite all their talk of American exceptionalism and American virtue in contrast with European corruption, they were seeking not to cut themselves off from Europe’s cultural heritage but to embrace it and in fact to fulfill it. It is a mistake to view America’s post-Revolutionary emulation of Europe as a legacy of helpless dependence passed on from colonial days. Americans imitated European styles and forms not because in their naïveté they could nothing else but because they wanted to.... Their revolution was very much an international affair, an attempt to fulfill the cosmopolitan dreams of the Enlightenment.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)