I HAVE BEEN WORKING on this book for so long and I owe so many thanks to so many people that it is hard to know where to begin. The good part is, looking back, I realize how blessed I have been in the many friendships and kindnesses that have sustained me as I’ve worked on this project. Yet I also approach this task with trepidation knowing that I’m sure to omit some of those many people who have helped. Please, if you don’t see your name here, know that I’ll remember it tomorrow and curse myself for leaving it out.
At Princeton University Press, it was my pleasure to work with Patricia Fidler, Curtis Scott, Nancy Grubb, Ken Wong, Devra Kupor, Sarah Henry, and Kate Zanzucchi; they guided me graciously and expertly through this process. Sally Hayden copyedited the manuscript, Susan Marsh provided the elegant design, and Kathleen Friello prepared the index. Color reproductions were made possible by generous grants from the Millard Meiss Publication Fund of the College Art Association and the Wellesley College Faculty Awards Program through the Mildred McAfee Horton Fund.
At Yale, my thesis advisor Jules Prown encouraged this project from its inception and has given me far more than the title for the book. Bryan Wolf’s brilliant and abundantly creative interpretations of American painting have also been an inspiration to me.
When I was working on my thesis, I was able to spend two wonderful years at the National Museum of American Art, where Lois Fink and her colleagues created an ideal environment for intellectual camaraderie. William H. Truettner, my advisor for those years, and Alan Wallach, then a senior fellow at the NMAA, have been extraordinary friends, colleagues, and candid critics of my work. They have also provided me with the example of their splendid scholarship.
Marc Simpson, David Brigham, and J. Gray Sweeney offered valuable advice on the manuscript, and Ellwood C. Parry III has generously shared his expertise on Thomas Cole.
For help with geological queries, I am very grateful to the following geologists: my old friend Philip Moss; Maria Nadakavukaren Waller and Margaret Thompson in Wellesley’s geology department; E-an Zen, Nicholas Ratcliffe, and their colleagues at the U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia; and Ellis Yochelson and Anita Harris of the Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.
I owe special thanks to my friends and colleagues in the Wellesley art department—every single one of them—who nudged and cajoled and asked at least once a week, “When are you going to finish that book?” Many of them read parts of the manuscript, offered valuable advice all the way through the process, and generally helped out in ways large and small. I am especially indebted to Andrew Warren for his photographs and to Peter Fergusson, Alice Friedman, Miranda Marvin, Patricia Berman, Jay Oles, John Rhodes, and James F. O’Gorman for their sage advice and comments on the text. My generous friend Jay Panetta from the music department was always willing to advise, encourage, and comment on drafts. As my undergraduate advisor, James O’Gorman set me off on the path that led to this book. He has been unfailingly supportive ever since, and has earned my heartfelt gratitude.
My good friends Jennifer Danly, Sarah Cohen, Wendy Greenhouse, Janet Headley, Susan Danly, Janet Dwyer Schiavoni, Erica Hirshler, and Rebecca Zurier have read, listened, supported, sent information, and offered good advice of all sorts. Janet Headley especially has been practically a partner in this project, wading through many drafts over the years. Without her I might have given up.
My family—my brothers, Matthew and John; my stepson, David Steinbergh; my mother, Jeanne F. Bedell; my father, Frank C. Bedell, and his wife, Lois Bedell—have helped me in more ways than I can list here. My daughter, Laura, and my husband, Alex, have been the best reasons I could think of to finish, and I dedicate the book to them.