Joshua Shaw, Reedy River Massacre, 1838, oil on canvas, 10 1/2 x 14 1/4 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. O. Leslie Stone, 1962.
Today’s highlight features Joshua Shaw’s Reedy River Massacre, a small painting currently on display in our Shaping America exhibition. A British painter who immigrated to America, Shaw was enthralled with its scenery and became one of the earliest American landscape painters. Traveling in South Carolina, he painted scenes on the Reedy River, a site of Revolutionary War skirmishes.
This painting depicts retaliatory attacks by Patriots against Loyalists and Cherokees, who massacred Patriot forces and supporters of the revolution in 1776. The isolation of the wounded and dying Indians in the foreground from the ongoing battle poignantly suggests their loss of power as the Revolutionary War proceeded. The American landscape is painted in an Italianate manner with framing trees, waterway, and distant mountains.