The Death of Jane McCrea Analysis

"The Death of Jane McCrea" Analysis
So many words come to mind when I look at the horrific picture painted by John Vanderlyn in 1804. "The Death of Jane McCrea" depicts two Native-Americans holding a tomahawk above an innocent white woman. Between the period of when thefirst settlers arrived in Jamestown (1607), and when this painting was completed, relations with between the white settlers and the Native Americans tended to oscillate between friendship and hostility. This painting was an illustration for an epic poem glorifying a white settlement. It was designed as propaganda, in order to justify the settlers' hate towards the Indians. Vanderlyn used to many different painting techniques in order to prove to the world that the Indians were savage and barbaric people.
The setting alone creates a gloomy impression from the very beginning. This atrocity takes place deep into dimly lit woods. Large trees and the lack of other human life suggest a dark seclusion. This dark seclusion is an indication of the lifestyle that the Indians lived- opposite to that of the white settlers. Many of the white settlements had large buildings (churches, town meeting places) with many people walking in the streets. Vanderlyn indicates that the lifestyle that the Indians were living in was uncivilized, with no large buildings and almost no people around. The dark woods makes me think of other creatures lurking in the bushes, ready to attack at any time. The setting almost seems as if it has occurred as a nightmare in someone's worst dreams.
Clothing plays an important role in the meaning of this picture. The Indians, large, muscular, and dark, are dressed with a minimal amount of clothing. The woman they are in the midst of killing looks very light skinned, and has almost an abundance of clothing.When reading the description of the Indians, it seems as if the description matches that of an animal.The Indians n…


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