This image was painted during a very snowy 19thC winter in New Jersey. The artist Regis has portrayed this particular town through the season of winter, he has shown the town to be almost angelic in appearance, with children skating on the frozen lake and beams of light peering through the clouds. I feel that this painting was made to show a Sunday afternoon, as the children are watched closely by adults, who only had Sunday to spend in their spare time, or a day of rest.
When I first saw this painting I presumed it was of an English town not American, this shows that this painting is unusual, the desolate trees are a common icon of the British winter. We would presume that an American winter would be all about Christmas and more eccentric, showing towns coming together singing carols and standing around a huge Christmas tree.
Regis-Francois Gignoux (French-born American) Painting of Elizabethtown, N.J. 1816-1882
This painting would appeal and intrigue many British citizens in settling in America.There is a horse and carriage, wooden shack with free roaming chicken, as well as the smoking chimney of a stand alone house. These ideals suggest lots of land and almost 'living off the land', where people can live the american dream, emphasising this further is the flying crock of birds above that could suggest freedom not only to nature but to the people.
There is one part of this painting that interests me the most, with all the children in the background playing and having fun, there is also an African American in the bottom right corner. He is shown to be happy, he has his hands in his pockets and seems not to be enjoying himself, whilst children and adults are having fun in the background, he stands alone, as if he has been sent away, on his own on the other side of the bridge. This intrigued me as I believed African Americans were not shown in many iconic images of America at this time, they were segregated from whites. A reason for this maybe as a result of the fact that the painter is not 'all' American, he was French and they were seen to be more tolerant of race at the time.