Neil Harris has written a book about “the legitimization of artistic energies in America” which, he states with some emphasis, should be read, not as a history of art and its relationship to American culture but as a history of the American artist and his position in the life of this country during the first half of its national existence. He might have succeeded in a number of ways. By writing a narrative in the conventional historical tradition. Or an essay on the influences to be found behind this or that artistic doctrine. Or a study in cultural nativism—a search for the spirit moving above the American waters, fashioning the beginnings of a national taste in art and guiding the hand of the New World artist himself. It is quite plausible to read Harris’s book as an account of the American passage from fear and hesitation toward the arts to their acceptance and, in the end, their celebration.