European influences

The political and cultural connections between America and Europe has been steady since the earliest European settlements. European countries came to America to boost their wealth and extend their influence over world affairs.

The Spanish were among the first Europeans to come and settle in what is now the United States. At around 16th century, England established a long-standing presence on the Atlantic Coast, which in turn led to the foundation of the first colony in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607.

Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, America fell deep into the art of still lives, nature, and portraits. Colonial artisans working in textiles, glass, silver, and pewter often mimicked European models in their crafts. More often than not, the American colonial artworks displayed charming portraits in the English Baroque court style, Dutch baroque style, and Elizabethan style.

By the middle of the 17th century, a tradition of Native American painting, which is based on figurative compositions and portrait art was established by artisans who gathered in the metropolitan centers in New York, and Boston. Among these artworks include the Portrait of Margaret Gibbs and the Self-Portrait by Captain Thomas Smith, which displays a combination of styles from Europe.

Besides the artworks, early European settlers also influenced the primary literature of America. Colonial American literature began from 1607 to the late 1700s and was mainly influenced by English poets. Back then, most of the American literature were pamphlets and writings describing the benefits of the colonies to both a colonist and a European audience.

Several characteristics of colonial American literature can be found in teaching materials, histories, narratives, letters, journals, and poems written by historical or religious figures and settlers of the period. Colonial American literature also includes the writings of John Winthrop, Anne Bradstreet, William Bradford, and Mary Rowlandson.

French and Spanish had two of the most influential colonial literary traditions in the locations that now comprise the United States. Discussions of early American literature usually include English language texts by John Smith and Thomas Harriot and texts by Samuel de Champlain.

Usually, their literary works were straightforward, practical, and derivative of Great Britain literature and are focused on the future. Despite the independence of the United States in 1776, American fiction and poetry were still mainly modeled on what was being published overseas in Great Britain. This is because the majority of the American readers also demanded and read content that came from the British.

Religion was popular in the literary works during the early colonial years, as seen in Puritan writings. The Puritans came up with writings about religious establishments of most of their settlements, especially the departure of Britain, and implemented the constant theme that God should be worshipped.

They also utilized texts that prepared early American settlers for worship, with the majority of literary works continuously emphasizing hard work and ambition. This type of writing also helped spread the message of God and eventually led to the Great Awakening and Puritanism movements. Other late writings described the interaction and conflicts with American Indians, as seen in the works of Benjamin Church, Alexander Whittaker, John Mason, Daniel Gookin, Daniel Tan, and John Eliot.

Facts about European Influences on Colonial America

  • Most colonial American artists depended on engraving European artworks to provide them ideas of poses, compositions ad details of the dress as well as an essential structural framework.
  • Although it was published in England, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America by Anne Bradstreet was considered as the earliest collection of poetry written in and about America.
  • Literary artist John Smith wrote histories of Virginia based on his experiences as a president of the Jamestown Colony and an English Explorer.
  • The writings of John Smith, which was published in 1608 and 1624, are often considered as the earliest works in American Literature.
  • The Power of the Sympathy by William Hill Brown was the first American novel of Colonial America. It was published in 1789.
  • Bay Psalm Book, which was a set of translations of biblical Psalms, is regarded as the earliest book of poetry in America.
  • Colonial American art was mainly Eurocentric and had no contact with the eastern seaboard, the west coast, the plains, and the tribal art traditions of American Indian Art.
  • The printing press was active in many areas during the colonial period particularly in Annapolis, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Cambridge.

Q & A:

How To Help Your Kids Learn About H...
How To Help Your Kids Learn About History
What are the art styles used in the Colonial American period? 
The art styles used in the American colonial period included the English Baroque court style, Dutch baroque style, and Elizabethan style.

Who wrote The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America? 
Anne Bradstreet wrote The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, which is one of the earliest collections of poetry written about America.

When was the first American novel written?
William Hill Brown wrote the first American novel entitled The Power of Sympathy in 1789.

Where was The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America published?
The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America was published in England.

What are the accessible European materials used by American colonial artists in their artworks?
Colonial artisans used textiles, glass, silver, and pewter and followed European models in their arts.