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1850-1877: The Arts: Chronology

1850-1877: The Arts: Chronology




  • Literature Ralph Waldo Emerson, Representative Men; Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter; Herman Melville, White-Jacket; or the World in a Man-of-War.
  • Music Camptown Races, by Stephen Foster; Carol (It Came upon a Midnight Clear), by Richard S. Willis; Santa Lucia, by Thomas Oliphant and Teodoro Cottrau.
  • Thomas Coles The Voyage of Life is exhibited for the first time; the artist had died in 1848.
  • Popular singer Jenny Lind, The Swedish Nightingale, undertakes an American tour sponsored by the showman P. T. Barnum.
  • The earliest known poems of Emily Dickinson are written. Her most prolific period of composition is the early 1860s, but her first book of poems, edited by Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, is not published until 1890.
  • Throughout the 1850s and 1860s Mathew Brady establishes himself as the premier photographer in America.
  • 19 July Transcendentalist literary critic Margaret Fuller, Marchioness DOssoli, dies in a shipwreck off Fire Island, New York.




  • Literature Joseph Glover Baldwin, The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi; Nathaniel Hawthorne, Tanglewood Tales, for Girls and Boys; Being a Second Wonder-Book.
  • Music My Old Kentucky Home and Old Dog Tray, by Stephen Foster.
  • Richard Upjohn designs Saint John Chrysostom Church in Delafield, Wisconsin.
  • Putnams Monthly Magazine is founded.
  • 8 Oct. The Musical World reports that six companies of blackface minstrels will be performing in New York City.


  • Literature Timothy Shay Arthur, Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There; John Esten Cooke, Leather Stocking and Silk; Maria Susanna Cummins, The Lamplighter; Henry David Thoreau, Waiden; or, Life in the Woods.
  • Music Le Banjo, by Louis Moreau Gottschalk.
  • Leopold Eidlitz designs The Chalet in Newport, Rhode Island.
  • Francis D. Lee designs the Unitarian Church in Charleston, South Carolina.


  • Literature Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha; Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.
  • Music Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming, by Stephen Foster; Listen to the Mockingbird, music by Richard Millburn, lyrics by Alice Hawthorne (Septimus Winner).
  • Frederic Church paints The Andes of Ecuador, often considered his first major painting.
  • James Goodwin Clonney completes his genre painting What a Catch!
  • Artist Asher Brown Durand publishes nine Letters on Landscape Painting in the art journal The Crayon.
  • The Smithsonian Institution, designed by James Renwick, is completed in Washington, D.C.; construction began in 1848.
  • Charles Heard designs the Old Stone Church in Cleveland.
  • Jacob Wrey Mould designs the All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City.
  • 24 Dec. James Robinson Planchés King Charming opens on Broadway in New York City.


  • Literature Herman Melville, The Piazza Tales; John Lothrop Motley, The Rise of the Dutch Republic; William Gilmore Simms, Eutaw; Harriet Beecher Stowe, Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp; John Greenleaf Whittier, The Barefoot Boy.
  • 18 Aug. Congress passes a copyright law to protect playwrights.
  • 25 Dec. Charles M. Walcots Hiawatha; or, Ardent Spirits and Laughing Water opens on Broadway with Walcot in the title role.


  • Literature Herman Melville, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade.
  • Music The Philadelphia Academy of Music is established and built.
  • The landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted becomes superintendent of New Yorks Central Park, which is under construction.
  • The Atlantic Monthly and Harpers Weekly are founded.
  • John P. Gaynor designs the Haughwort Store building in New York City.
  • Ammi Burnham Young designs the Customs House in the District of Columbia.
  • Alexander Jackson Davis designs the Gate House, Llewellyn Park, in Orange, New Jersey.
  • 8 Dec. Dion Boucicaults play The Poor of New York opens in New York City.


  • Literature Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Courtship of Myles Standish and Other Poems.
  • Music Down in Alabam (The Old Gray Mare), by J. Warner; The Yellow Rose of Texas (The Song of the Texas Rangers), by J. K.
  • James Renwick begins construction of Saint Patricks Cathedral in New York City; it is completed in 1879.


  • Literature William Gilmore Simms, The Cassique of Kiawah; Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Ministers Wooing.
  • Music Dixie, by Daniel Decatur Emmett.
  • Frederic Church paints Floating Icebergs.
  • George Henry Durrie paints Winter Landscape: Gathering Wood.
  • James McNeill Whistler paints At the Piano.
  • Patrick S. Gilmore becomes the director of the Boston Brigade Band.
  • 28 Jan. The historian William Hickling Prescott dies in Boston.
  • 24 Nov. The American-trained coloratura soprano Adelina Patti debuts in Gaetano Donizettis Lucia di Lammermoor in New York City.
  • 28 Nov. The author Washington Irving dies in Irvington, New York.


  • Literature Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life; Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun; or, The Romance of Monte Beni; John Greenleaf Whittier, Home Ballads and Poems.
  • Music Old Black Joe, by Stephen Foster.
  • Martin Johnson Heade paints Approaching Storm.
  • The first dime novel, Malaeska, by Ann Sophia Stephens, is published.
  • 26 Nov. The musical spectacle Seven Sisters opens on Broadway with Laura Keane in the lead role.


  • Literature Oliver Wendell Holmes, Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny; Henry Timrod, Ethnogenesis Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Paul Reveres Ride.
  • Music The Bonnie Blue Flag, by Harry McCarthy; Our Willie Dear Is Dying, by Stephen Foster.
  • The American painter and sculptor William Rimmers The Falling Gladiator is exhibited in plaster form in the Paris Salon.
  • Asher Brown Durand resigns as president of the National Academy of Design.
  • Albert Bierstadt completes his Indians Traveling near Fort Laramie, based on sketches he made while traveling with a government survey team in 1859.
  • The actor Antonio (Tony) Pastor opens the first vaudeville theater at 444 Broadway in New York City.


  • Literature Charles Farrar Browne, Artemus Ward, His Book; Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Pearl of Orrs Island: A Story of the Coast of Maine.
  • Music The Battle Cry of Freedom, by George F. Root; The Battle Hymn of the Republic, by Julia Ward Howe.
  • Fitz Hugh Lane paints Owls Head, Penobscot Bay, Maine.
  • 7 Apr. Julius Eichberg and B. E. Woolfs musical play The Doctor of Alcantara premieres in Boston.
  • 6 May Henry David Thoreau dies in Concord, Massachusetts.


  • Literature Edward Everett Hale, The Man without a Country Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn.
  • Music Bring My Brother Back to Me, by Stephen Foster; Tenting on the Old Camp Ground, by Walter Kittredge; When Johnny Comes Marching Home, by Patrick S. Gilmore.
  • James McNeill Whistler exhibits The White Girl (1862) which was rejected by the Royal Academy and by the Paris Salon at the Salon des Refusés, where it is ridiculed.
  • Henry Austin completes the Morse-Libby House in Portland, Maine.


  • Literature William Cullen Bryant, Thirty Poems; David Ross Locke, The Nasby Papers; James Russell Lowell, Fireside Travels.
  • Music Beautiful Dreamer, by Stephen Foster; Der Deitchers Dog (Where ish mine little dog gone?), by Septimus Winner; Goober Peas, by Johnny Reb; Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!, by George F. Root.
  • Elihu Vedder paints The Lair of the Sea Serpent.
  • 19 May The author Nathaniel Hawthorne dies in Plymouth, New Hampshire.
  • 26 Dec. P. T. Barnums musical fairy romance, The Ring of Fate, is first performed.


  • Literature Dion Boucicault and Joseph Jefferson, Rip van Winkle; Charles Farrar Browne, Artemus Ward; His Travels; Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain), Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog (The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County) Henry Wheeler Shaw > Josh Billings: Hiz Sayings; Francis Parkman Jr., Pioneers of France in the New World; Walt Whitman, Drum-Taps.
  • Music Marching through Georgia, by Henry Clay Work.
  • George Innes paints Peace and Plenty.
  • Winslow Homer paints Prisoners from the Front.
  • Dr. William Halliwell draws The Peaceable Kingdom in pen and ink.
  • Peter B. Wight completes the National Academy of Design in New York City.
  • Thomas Ustick Walter completes the dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
  • The San Francisco Minstrels open on Broadway.
  • 8 May Arthur D. Gilman and Gridley Bryant complete the Boston City Hall.


  • Literature Harry Brownell, War-Lyrics and Other Poems; Herman Melville, Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War; John Greenleaf Whittier, Snow-Bound. A Winter Idyl.
  • Music Come Back to Erin, by Claribel (Charlotte Barnard); Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, by Hattie Fox and A. D. Waldridge; When You and I Were Young, Maggie, by James A. Butterfield.
  • Winslow Homer paints Croquet Scene.
  • John La Farge paints The Greek Love Token.
  • Work on Memorial Hall, Harvard University, is begun by William R. Ware and Henry Van Brunt; it is completed in 1878.
  • 12 Sept. Charles M. Barrass The Black Crook is produced at Niblos Garden in New York City.


  • Literature Augustin Daly, Under the Gaslight; John William De Forest, Miss Ravenels Conversion from Secession to Loyalty; George Washington Harris, Sut Lovingood Yarns; James Russell Lowell, Biglow Papers: Second Series; Francis Parkman Jr., The Jesuits in North America; Henry Timrod, Ode.
  • Music Slave Songs of the United States, edited by William Francis Allen, Charles Pickard Ware, and Lucy McKim Garrison.
  • Alexander Jackson Davis completes renovations to Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, New York.


  • Literature Louisa May Alcott, Little Women; Bret Harte, The Luck of Roaring Camp.
  • John Rogers sculpts The Council of War.
  • Lippincotts Magazine, Overland Monthly, and Vanity Fair begin publication.
  • 10 Mar. Humpty Dumpty, a pantomime starring George Lafayette Fox, opens in New York City.


  • Literature Samuel Langhorne Clemens, The Innocents Abroad; Bret Harte, The Outcasts of Poker Flat Francis Parkman Jr., LaSalle and the Great West; Harriet Beecher Stowe, Oldtown Folks.
  • John B. Snook designs Grand Central Depot in New York City, completed in 1871.
  • 18 May George Lafayette Fox opens in the pantomime Hiccory Diccory Dock on Broadway.


  • Literature Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude.
  • Music Frankie and Johnny, anonymous.
  • John F. Kensett paints Thunderstorm, Lake George.
  • 7 Feb. J. C. Fosters The Twelve Temptations opens on Broadway.
  • 11 July Dan Emmetts Fritz, Our Cousin German opens at Wallacks Theatre in New York City.
  • 5 Oct. George Lafayette Fox opens in the pantomime Wee Willie Winkte.


  • Literature Henry Adams and Charles Francis Adams Jr., Chapters of Erie and Other Essays; Edward Eggleston, The Hoosier School-Master; John Hay, Pike County Ballads and Other Pieces; Henry James, A Passionate Pilgrim Joachim Miller, Songs of the Sierras; Walt Whitman, Democratic Vistas.
  • Alfred B. Mullett designs the War and Navy Building in Washington, D.C.
  • Winslow Homer paints The Country School.
  • William Rimmer sculpts The Dying Centaur.


  • Literature Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Roughing It; William Dean Howells, Their Wedding Journey; Clarence King, Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada.
  • Music Silver Threads among the Gold, by Hart Pease Danks and Eben Rexford.
  • H.H. Richardson begins work on Trinity Church, Boston; construction is completed five years later.
  • William Rimmer paints Flight and Pursuit
  • James McNeill Whistler paints Arrangement in Gray and Black, No. 1 (The Artists Mother).
  • 9 Sept. James Barnes and W. H. Brinkworths Chow Chow, or A Tale of Pekin opens at Woods Museum theater in New York City.
  • 25 Nov. Augustin Daly produces Round the Clock, or New York by Dark at the Grand Opera House in New York City.


  • Literature Samuel Langhorne Clemens and Charles Dudley Warner, The Gilded Age; William Dean Howells, A Chance Acquaintance; Henry Timrod, The Cotton Boll.
  • Winslow Homer paints The Berry Pickers.
  • George Innes paints The Monk.
  • Leopold Eidlitz designs the Church of the Holy Trinity in New York City.
  • The Delineator, St. Nicholas, and Woman s Home Companion begin publication.


  • Literature Ambrose Bierce, Cobwebs from an Empty Skull; Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen, Gunnar: A Tale of Norway; William Dean Howells, A Foregone Conclusion.
  • Music La Reine dAmour Waltzes, by John Philip Sousa; The Skidmore Guard, by David Braham and Edward Harrigan.
  • Thomas Eakins paints Starting Out After Rail.
  • 27 July A musical version of Henry Wadsworth Longfellows Evangeline opens at Niblos Garden in New York City.


  • Literature Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Mark Twains Sketches; John William De Forest, Honest John Vane; Bret Harte, Echoes of the Foot-Hills and Tales of the Argonauts; Henry James, Transatlantic Sketches.
  • Music Grandfathers Clock, by Henry Clay Work; The Phoenix, by John Philip Sousa.
  • John H. Sturgis and Charles Brigham design the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
  • Richard H. Hunt designs the Lenox Library and the Tribune Building in New York City.
  • George B. Post designs the Western Union Building in New York City.
  • Thomas Eakins paints The Gross Clinic.
  • 31 May Edward Harrigan and Tony Harts The Donovans opens in New York City.
  • 28 Aug. The dancers Haniola, Imre, and Bolossy Kiralfy produce a musical version of Jules Vernes Around the World in Eighty Days at the Academy of Music in New York City.


  • Literature Samuel Langhorne Clemens, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Henry James, Roderick Hudson; Herman Melville, Clarei; Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Centennial Edition.
  • Music The Honored Dead March, by John Philip Sousa; The Rose of Killarney, by Thomas P. Westendorf.
  • The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, designed by Frank Furness, is completed.
  • May-Nov. The Centennial Exposition is held in Philadelphia.
  • 27 Sept. Augustin Dalys Life opens in New York City.


  • Literature Henry James, The American; Sarah Orne Jewett, Deephaven; Sidney Lanier, Poems; Francis Parkman Jr., Count Frontenac and New France.
  • Music Abdulla Bulbul Ameer, by Percy French; In the Gloaming, by Annie F. Harrison.
  • James W. McLaughlin designs the John Shillito store in Cincinnati.
  • Thomas Eakins paints William Rush Carving the Allegorical Figure of the Schuylkill River.
  • Winslow Homer paints The Cotton Pickers.
  • Currier & Ives publish the engraving The Great East River Suspension Bridge.
  • The humor magazine Puck begins publication.
  • 3 Sept. Edward Harrigans Old Lavender opens in New York.

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