John Lewis Krimmel, Study for "Village Tavern"

John Lewis Krimmel: Study for
Study for "Village Tavern"
c. 1814
Oil on panel
Credit Line
Museum purchase, with generous funding provided in part by The Barra Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, 2003
8 ¼ x 11 1/2 in.

Krimmel represents a marriage in trouble in this study for his Village Tavern (1813–1814), which is in the collection of the Toledo Museum of Art. He embraced the role of artist as social commentator: his tavern is filled with men of different backgrounds, including a Quaker, conveying the idea of unity across the class spectrum of the young American nation.

The central action in the painting is a symbolic warning about lack of control. A woman in a blue cloak enters the tavern with her child to implore her husband to refrain from drinking and come home. If the husband, who wears a worker’s apron, falls into alcoholism, the family will not survive. This fictitious working-class family is the foil to the more affluent couples in many of the portraits in this gallery, who are defined as much by the control of their passions as by the luxury of having their likenesses painted.

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