Emigrants Resting at Sunset
Manifest destiny, the belief that Americans were divinely ordained to be the masters of the continent from sea to shining sea created enormous demand for paintings of a West most art patrons had yet to see for themselves. In Celtic tradition, the Western Sea held the Blessed Isles, the place to which one traveled after death where you were forever young and happy; in short, heaven was a physical place and it was located in the West. Many Americans and would-be Americans had the same idea. This is not a painting about how day dies and takes a piece of our lives with it, sunset as a metaphor for death; this is a painting about the golden future awaiting us on the horizon. The rest in this painting is not the rest of eternity waiting to enfold us; it is the rest that refreshes in order to charge a new day. It is Manifest Destiny made manifest in paint.