About the Cover

The Power of Music, c. 1847
Cleveland Museum of Art

William Sidney Mount, American, 19th century

Oil on Canvas

Framed: 67 x 78 x 7.5 cm (26 3/8 x 30 11/16 x 2 15/16 in.)
Unframed: 43.4 x 53.5 cm (17 1/16 x 21 1/16 in.)

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1991.110


It is said that William Sidney Mount enjoyed creating scenes depicting everyday life in small-town America, which was the setting of his youth. “The Power of Music” is one of Mount’s most celebrated pieces and also his most rare.

The oil on canvas is set in rural Long Island before the Civil War and depicts an African American laborer standing outside of a barn, listening in on the music being enjoyed by several White men. In this way, Mount remarks on a shared humanity through music, while the separation of the men symbolizes the divisions in America during this time.

Though he led a trend in depicting everyday American life in his art, many of his contemporaries depicted Black Americans as caricatures, where Mount's portrayals, while still paternalistic, held more empathy.


The Power of Music, William Sidney Mount, c. 1847. The Cleveland Museum of Art. Accessed June 2024. https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1991.110

William Sidney Mount (1807-1869), The Power of Music. Arader Galleries. Accessed June 2024. https://aradergalleries.com/products/william-sidney-mount-1807-1868-the-power-of-music


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