The "Sons of Liberty Bowl," made by Paul Revere Jr. and commissioned by 15 members of the Sons of Liberty in 1768, was an announcement of political opposition to the British crown. It specifically served to honor members of the Massachusetts legislature who remained strong in opposing the Townshend Acts of 1767. The bowl stands at the entrance of the Revolutionary exhibit, perhaps in an effort to emphasize the importance of Americans' rebellious attitude during the Revolutionary War. Though the Sons of Liberty weren't always applauded for their violent nature, their desire for freedom was certainly representative of the general feeling in early America.
This portrait of Sam Adams, painted by John Singleton Copley around the year 1772, shows Adams during the trial of British officers following the Boston Massacre. Adams, who proudly represented the confrontational Bostonians, faced off against Thomas Hutchinson, representing the British. Samuel Adams, also one of the key members of the Sons of Liberty, was the embodiment of rebellion against the British, as he is seen here holding a petition from the citizens of Boston to expel the British from the city whilst pointing at the Massachusetts Royal Charter. Freedom and liberty were values on the rise during the early 1770's in America, and there is no painting that represents that better than this one of Adams asking for the expulsion of British soldiers from Boston.
This portrait of Paul Revere, painted in 1768 by John Singleton Copley, depicts the important revolutionary figure at his traditional job as a silversmith. At this point, Revere had already joined the Sons of Liberty and was an active political figure. However, rather than portray Revere in a more political and aristocratic role, Copley instead decides to cast Revere as an industrious and humble character by having him hold a silver pot which he has presumably made and by having him wear extremely modest clothes. It is no surprise that Revere would be portrayed this way, for the revolutionary American's, especially those of the north, were very proud of their industrial nature.
Another painting by John Singleton Copley, this is a portrait of John Hancock in 1765. Hancock, who is now known for his audacious signature on the Declaration of Independence, was actually a symbol of the American Dream, rags to riches, during his lifetime. Hancock was born poor before inheriting a large sum of money and moving to the prestigious Beacon Hill. In this painting, he is shown wearing a stylish but not overly ostentatious outfit that represent his humble upbringings but now much improved social standing. The rags to riches dream was one that all Americans believed as attainable and Hancock was a poster-boy for that mentality.
"Washington at Dorchester Heights," painted by Gilbert Stuart, shows George Washington after his colossal battle at Dorchester Heights. Washington appears older than he would have been during the fight, which may have been a product of the fact that the painting was not painted until 1806, despite the battle taking place in 1776. The background shows dark clouds being pushed out of the sky by a bright sun and a light blue sky. This could potentially be a symbol for the the American liberators taking territory from the hands of the "dirty" British. The battle at Dorchester heights was the first major victory for the American army and George Washington, and thus the painting is bombarded by lights and showered in glory.
"The Passage of the Delaware," painted by Thomas Sully, depicts George Washington as he is about to cross the Delaware River into Trenton, New Jersey. The success of the battle is not yet known, but the prerogative itself was a changing point of the Revolutionary War. The battle would be Washington's most heroic feat, so it is no surprise that he is shown in the forefront and seemingly emitting light. The painting is one of the largest ones in the entirety of the Museum of Fine and is cascaded with lights on all sides, which is indicative of the fact that Washington's decision to attack Trenton over the Delaware River was a monumental moment in deciding the Revolutionary War.
This is a model of the USS Constitution, a frigate which was built in 1794 and remains an active part of the Navy to this day. The Constitution was charged with protecting American merchant ships in the Mediterranean and also helped win several important battles in the War of 1812. Because of it's popularity, it was salvaged and refurnished in 1830 and placed permanently in the Boston Navy Yard. The initiative of the Americans to demand the restoration of the USS Constitution demonstrates the nationalism and pride that was present in 1800's America.
"Boston Harbor" is a painting that was composed by Fitz Henry Lane in the early 1850's. The harbor is remarkably serene with very little wind or movement, which is probably to be expected, as the day's sunlight appears to be dwindling. By showing the harbor at sunset, Lane is probably alluding to the fact that the industrial revolution is about to hit the Northeast, bringing in new forms of transportation, and perhaps eliminating the large sailing vessels of the early 1800's. This also serves to represent the industrious nature of the north, especially when compared to the agrarian south.
"Storm in the Mountains," a painting by Albert Bierstadt in 1870, depicts a storm on Mount Holyoke in Western Massachusetts. The lighting is dark and ominous in the majority of the landscape, but there is a significant slip of bright light sliding across the valley and seemingly splitting the storm. The light, which appears to go from east to west, represents the manifest destiny which was becoming increasingly present in American society. The darkness represents the unknown entity that was the west, while the light cutting through the darkness represents an influx of Americans looking westward.
"The Fog Warning," a painting by Winslow Homer, depicts a single northern fisher returning home after a day's work. The Fisher has a decent haul of two large fish on the floor of his boat and approaches a wall of fog which appears ominously in the distance. The painting, which was created in 1885, shows the values of individualism and industrialism that epitomized the north at the time. However, the future of this northerner appears ominous, with a storm approaching and a weighed down boat, and Homer may be trying to say something about the future of the north as a whole.