The Gilded Age, circa 1870-1900, was a period of rapid economic and social growth characterized by the emergence of a wealthy middle class, excess and embellishment in architecture, art and fashion, fueled by mechanization, transportation, major inventions and the growth of cities. Under the surface however lay significant social tensions- corruption in politics, collusion in business and poverty among unskilled industrial workers, child labor and discrimination.The term “Gilded Age” comes from the satirical novel co-authored by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner and published in 1873 (the process of gilding, applied a thin veneer of gold to a baser material such as pewter or tin to make the artifact appear more valuable, had recently been introduced). Twain likened it to an era of serious social problems masked by thin gold gilding.
The Gilded Age is also the setting for my upcoming novel THE UNFORGETTABLE MISS BALDWIN, Book 1 in the the Baldwin Family Series. It follows the lives and loves of the Baldwin siblings: Adam, Allie, Mia, Emma and Ava and their parents, newspaper magnate Joseph Baldwin and his charity-minded wife Clara who oversees a children’s hospital. Since I also LOVE the classic Hollywood romantic comedies of Catherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, I wanted to weave that element into my books. Along with my love of design and architecture of course. Can’t wait for you all to read it!
For the purposes of this blog, I chose to point out the visual arts of the era when American painters emerged: Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sergeant, Childe Hassam and others. Art of the romanticized West by Albert Bierstadt, Charles Remington et al. Are we in a new Gilded Age? Which artists, in any creative field, will become associated with this era?