American Progress

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American Progress
American Progress (John Gast painting).jpg
ArtistJohn Gast
Year1872 (1872)
MediumOil on canvas
SubjectManifest destiny, Settler colonialism
Dimensions11 1/2 in × 15 3/4 in. (29.2 cm × 40 cm)
LocationAutry Museum of the American West, Los Angeles, California
OwnerAutry Museum of the American West
WebsiteExhibit website

American Progress is an 1872 painting by John Gast, a Prussian-born painter, printer, and lithographer who lived and worked most of his life during 1870s Brooklyn, New York. American Progress, an allegory of manifest destiny, was widely disseminated in chromolithographic prints. It is now held by the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, California.[1]


American Progress has become a seminal example of American Western art. The painting serves as an allegory for Manifest Destiny and American westward expansion. The 11.50 by 15.75 inches (29.2 cm × 40.0 cm) painting was commissioned in 1872 by George Crofutt, a publisher of American Western travel guides, and has since been frequently reproduced. The woman in the center is Columbia, the personification of the United States, and on her head is what Crofutt calls "The Star of the Empire". Columbia moves from the light-skied east to the dark and treacherous West, leading settlers who follow her either on foot or by stagecoach, horseback, Conestoga wagon, wagon train, or riding steam trains.[2] Progress lays a telegraph wire with one hand and carries a school book in the other. On the right side of the painting, in the East, New York City can be seen in the background, while farmers that have already settled in the Midwest are featured in the foreground. As Lady Columbia moves westward, indigenous people and a herd of buffalo flee from her and the settlers who follow.[3]


  1. ^ Museum website entry
  2. ^ "American Progress". Library of Congress. 1873. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  3. ^ Sandweiss, Martha A. "John Gast, American Progress, 1872". Retrieved May 1, 2017.

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