New Publication: “Peirce, Bierstadt, and the Topographic Imagination in Nineteenth-Century North America”

Charles Sanders Peirce, verso of letter from Francis C. Russell, ca. October 1896, ink on paper. Charles Sanders Peirce Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, MS Am 1632 (L387) (photograph provided by Houghton Library)

C. Oliver O’Donnell (2021) Peirce, Bierstadt, and the Topographic Imagination in Nineteenth-Century North America, The Art Bulletin, 103:2, 104-128.

A passage in a letter serves as a starting point for an exploration of the relationship between the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce and the painter Albert Bierstadt, taking into account their extended friendship, business partnerships, and respective practices of visual representation. The letter contains Peirce’s description of a painting by Bierstadt that he possessed, which sets the stage for an investigation of his systematic philosophy and a comparison of his existential graphs with the oft-noted “effects” of Bierstadt’s grand canvases. The latter, finally, help to unpack the ethical role of visual art within Peirce’s thought.

View the article online here.


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