VANDERLYN, John
(b. 1775, Kingston, d. 1852, Kingston)

Columbus Landing at Guanahani, 1492

1837-47
Oil on canvas, 365 x 548 cm
Rotunda, US Capitol, Washington

John Vanderlyn, an American whose revolutionary sympathies had led him to study and work in Paris in the early days of the empire, executed this painting in the American Capitol in Washington. His theme was Columbus Landing at Guanahani, 1492, glorifying the arrival on this West Indian island of the historical figure who was regarded as the founder of the white and Christian Americas. His Indians crouch like wild animals, frightened and puzzled, and some of the explorer's Spanish sailors crawl on the ground, already hunting for gold.