Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"James Edward Oglethorpe"

For the second mural depicting the history of Georgia agriculture, Beattie elected to show as a monumental figure dominating the left side of the composition James Edward Oglethorpe, an English military leader and social reformer and founder of the colony of Georgia in 1733. Beattie presents Oglethorpe wearing a royal purple coat and plumed hat and using a cane, and sets him apart from the other European settlers in the image.

Over Oglethorpe’s right shoulder, we see Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island, with a cannon emerging from the battlements, and the Anne, the ship that brought the first settlers to Georgia. Behind the Englishman to Oglethorpe’s left, Beattie presents Tomochichi, a leader of the Yamacraw people, making connections to the first mural in the narrative. Other Yamacraws stand in the background at the far right of the mural. Beattie also shows Methodist church founder John Wesley, his back to the viewer, leading a crowd of settlers in prayer. The organization of Beattie’s composition references earlier “founding” American images, including Benjamin West’s Penn’s Tready with Indians (1771–72). When Oglethorpe and the colonists arrived, one of their priorities was for the new territory to produce commodities for export to England. In the immediate foreground, the artist displays three European settlers engaged in initial attempts to plant rice along the Georgia sea coast. Oak trees, dripping with Spanish moss, help Beattie frame the various scenes in the mural’s composition.

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