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Monday, December 10, 2012

Worth a Thousand Words: The Christmas Coach

This is The Christmas Coach by American painter Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, and it's just one of seventy-eight scenes from American history in his series, The Pageant of a Nation. It is the largest series of American historical paintings by a single artist. Ferris began painting the series in 1895, and when the entire series was completed, it was exhibited in Ferris's hometown of Philadelphia, at Independence Hall from 1913 to 1930.

The Christmas Coach depicts a scene in Philadelphia in 1795 and features a wealthy woman departing the coach just before sunset on Christmas Eve to a snow-covered street filled with a representation of the great diversity of one of early America's largest cities. The street bustles with the spirit of the season as middle class families, soldiers, servants, Native Americans, and frontiersmen dodge covered wagons, horses, and dogs as they run their errands and make their way home for their Christmas celebrations.

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