Winding Up (1836)
William Sidney Mount
William Sidney Mount was the most highly esteemed painter of American daily life before the Civil War. Using meticulous brushwork, he composed Winding Up similar to a theater set, and the figures mimic stage characters of the day. The man represents Yankee Jonathan, a country-bumpkin type. His hat remains on his head even indoors, and his handkerchief sticks out of his pocket. The woman, however, appears in her finest clothing, which Mount drew from earlier costume sketches. The title Winding Up has a double meaning. It refers to the ball of yarn the woman winds from the skein around her suitor's hands and to the stage of their courtship. The artist, however, leaves it to the viewer to guess the final outcome of the relationship.