June 26, 2021 – September 5, 2021

Landscape painting of valley

William Chapman (American, 1858-1947), Platte River, Colorado (detail), c. 1894, oil on canvas. Gift of Anthony Battelle, 1982.9

A painted portrait of Sarah Clayton sitting at a desk

Joseph Wright of Derby (British, 1712-1779), Sarah Clayton, c. 1769, oil on canvas. Gift of Louise I. Doyle, 1953.1

Girl wearing a blue dress is walking in the Pumpkin Patch with watering can in hand

Daniel Ridgway Knight (American, 1839-1924), Girl in Pumpkin Patch, 1880, oil on canvas. The Clapp Estate, 1973.9

Images carry within them a host of symbolic meanings. Through paintings from the permanent collection at FAM, this exhibition explores how class, social status, and character are embedded in our visual culture. Portraits contain symbolic objects that provide clues about the subject’s profession or personality, while activities of leisure and labor directly represent particular socioeconomic classes. Landscapes are more than a rendering of the natural environment; they reveal the status of individuals who are able to travel freely, or collective beliefs that reflect the growth, progress, or fears of a nation.


Wednesday – Friday 12pm – 4pm
Saturday & Sunday 11am – 5pm
1st Thursday of the month 12pm – 7pm



Fitchburg Art Museum
185 Elm Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420
Phone 978.345.4207


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