Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Dr. Eric Garberson


David Gilmour Blythe's street urchin paintings created during the 1850s are disturbing and often grotesque. The image of childhood that he created was quite different from that of his American contemporaries who adapted the romantic notion of the child from eighteenth-century English painters. Previous scholars have noted the contrast between Blythe's vision of America's street children and the optimistic view offered by other American painters but have not offered a sufficient explanation as to why they differed so radically. This thesis will examine several of Blythe's urchin scenes, as well as his poetry and writings to reveal the clear presence of anti-immigrant sentiment in his painting. Such an analysis will posit Blythe's political beliefs about immigration as a plausible explanation for his peculiar view of the children who occupied Pittsburgh's streets.


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VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008