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Erie Railroad

19th century Unidentified oil on canvas 18 1/2 x 22 1/4 in. (47.0 x 56.5 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.146 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 14B

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Erie Railroad
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Luce Center Label

This painting was created by an unknown artist in Pennsylvania, probably during the mid- to late nineteenth century. Folk art collector Herbert Waide Hemphill Jr. acquired the piece in 1962 and added the unusual frame, which is carved and stained to resemble tree limbs. The Erie Railroad was chartered in 1832, and the first train ran from New York to Lake Erie in 1851, with President Millard Fillmore as a passenger. In this painting, the sweeping track and accompanying telegraph poles emphasize the dramatic growth of transport and communications during the second half of the nineteenth century. The man fishing in the foreground, however, evokes a simpler time when the world moved less quickly.


Architecture - bridge

Architecture - science - power lines

Architecture - vehicle - train

Figure male - full length

Landscape - water

Recreation - sport and play - fishing


folk art

paint - oil

fabric - canvas