Charles Deas and 1840s America
$39.95 Hardcover

Joan Patterson Kerr Award, Best Illustrated Book on the History of the West, Western History Association

Charles Deas (1818–67), an enigmatic figure on the edge of mainstream artistic circles in mid-nineteenth-century New York, went west to explore new opportunities and subjects in 1840. From his adopted hometown of St. Louis, Deas sent his iconic paintings of fur trappers and Indians back east for exhibition and sale, briefly winning the recognition that had earlier eluded him.

This handsome volume—featuring more than 150 illustrations, 70 in color—is the first book exclusively devoted to Deas. In two major essays, Carol Clark presents Deas’s haunting biography and complex art—works that embodied Americans’ uncertainty about the future of their rapidly expanding nation, especially in the contested spaces of the West. Ranging from Indian genre scenes to more violent and bizarre themes drawn from literature and his own imagination, Deas’s images reverberate with the racial tensions and cut-throat economic competition of the period. Three additional essayists examine the historical, political, and social context of Deas’s art and discuss in detail two of his major paintings, Walking the Chalk and Long Jakes, “the Rocky Mountain Man.”

The volume also includes Clark’s catalogue of Deas’s paintings, watercolors, and drawings—the most extensive recovery and documentation to date of the work of this important but little-known artist. Charles Deas and 1840s America will constitute the definitive reference on the painter for years to come.


About The Author

Carol Clark is William McCall Vickery 1957 Professor of the History of Art and American Studies at Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, and the author of numerous art historical works, including Thomas Moran: Watercolors of the American West.

Joan Carpenter Troccoli retired as Senior Scholar of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art of the Denver Art Museum in June 2012. She is the Founding Director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art, Denver Art Museum, a position in which she served from 2001-05. From 1996-2001, she was Deputy Director of the Denver Art Museum. Before coming to Denver in 1995, she was a Curator of Art and subsequently Director of Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She holds a B. A. from Middlebury College and master's and doctoral degrees from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

Frederick E. Hoxie is Swanlund Professor of History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and coauthor of The People: A History of Native America.

Peter H. Hassrick is Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of many publications, including Frederic Remington: A Catalogue Raisonné II, Painted Journeys: The Art of John Mix Stanley, and In Contemporary Rhythm: The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein.


Lewis I. Sharp is Frederick and Jan Mayer Director, Denver Art Museum.

Book Information
70 color and 84 b&w illus.
248 Pages
Hardcover 978-0-8061-4030-8
Published December 2009
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