As we prepare to observe the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought I’d take a look at some Thanksgiving celebrations depicted in art and how those pictures have evolved to reflect our society.
“The First Thanksgiving” by Philadelphia artist JLG Ferris c. 1912 shows some early settlers sharing an outdoor meal with a group of Native Americans. In the picture, the Native Americans are dressed in fringed animal skin trousers and headdresses and the pilgrims are wearing tall black hats. The pilgrims are sharing what looks like some corn cakes and there doesn’t seem to be a turkey in sight.
A new picture of Thanksgiving emerges with “Freedom from Want” by Norman Rockwell c. 1943. This oil painting depicts a man dressed in a suit and tie, standing proudly beside an apron clad woman, who is placing a huge turkey platter on a finely set table as a group of eager and happy dinner guests engage in conversation.
A modern depiction of a Thanksgiving celebration might be a scene right out of your home or mine. It could be a photo of a family, whose members are casually dressed in jeans, gathered around a dining room table set with paper plates and turkey napkins, waiting to break the wishbone.
Although these Thanksgiving depictions have changed over the years, there is something they all share and that is a group of people gathering to share a meal and give thanks. So let’s give thanks and have a Happy Thanksgiving!