Typical of this type of painting is the work of William Sidney Mount. Mount was born in Stony Brook, New York, a small town on Long Island, in the year 1807. As a young man he journeyed to the big city (New York) where he for a time plied his trade as a sign painter. He also studied art at the newly minted National Academy of Design in the mid 1820s. At first his work was largely English in style, creating history paintings and Biblical works. After a few years though, he decided he didn't like the city, sign painting, or the difficult-to -ell history paintings he'd been doing either, so he returned to Stony Brook and a simpler life where he found both inspiration and subject matter in the simple life he'd missed in the city.
His first success was a painting in 1830 entitled Rustic Dance after a Sleigh Ride, which received wide acclaim and found a ready market in the very city he'd fled. It was purchased by American art collector, Luman Reed, because it reminded him of the peasant country life from which he'd grown to be one of American's richest merchants. Mount's work quickly struck a similar chord with dozens of other New York businessmen wanting more than the empty wilderness paintings of the Hudson River School. And thus a market developed for works like Mount's Dancing on the Barn Floor (1831), and The Truant Gamblers painted in 1835. Mount's success spawned others in the field and to varying degrees, their work could be characterized as unsophisticated, nostalgic, sentimental, illustrative, and stereotypical, yet they perfectly matched the times in which they were painted and the upward-striving businessmen who purchased them. They became, without intending to, our first form of history painting.