Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (mural study, U.S. Capitol)

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Long before the creation of Canada, Mexico and the United States, there was the land. The very earth of North America, its diverse beauty, majestic mountains, vast plains, and sparkling waters, moved its inhabitants to define their developing nations in part through love of land and awe of nature. Combined with religious, scientific and philosophical ideals, each region birthed nationalistic myths, which formed the basis of their cultural identity and destiny. Artists depicting the land in this mythical or allegorical sense shaped and affirmed their nations’ ideologies. These artworks tell the story of each country, enabling us to better understand the places and histories which are depicted.

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