Skip to main content

Oct. 15 Art Minute: John Lewis Krimmel, Village Tavern

Art Minute, Art of the Week, toledo museum of art
John Lewis Krimmel (American, 1786-1821) Village Tavern. Oil on canvas, 1813-1814. Purchased with funds from the Florence Scott Libbey Bequest in Memory of her Father, Maurice A. Scott. Gallery 29

The tavern in early 19th-century America, with its mix of workmen and gentlemen merchants, was often the public heart of a village. Taverns were not only drinking places, they were gathering places where the news of the day was received and discussed. The artist has provided clues to what subject has excited the group: hanging on the wall are ship prints and a map of the Great Lakes region, where much of the War of 1812 (1812-1815) was fought.
Look carefully at the hand gestures and glances in order to “read” the attitudes and actions of the various figures. What do you think the woman and child are doing in the tavern, where they would not normally venture? John Lewis Krimmel often included a moral message in his vividly detailed scenes of everyday American life, which made his images even more appealing to his middleclass patrons.

This work is currently on display at the Toledo Museum of Art in Gallery 29.