What sort of man was the American landscape supposed to produce? The key words that come to mind when viewing Frank Blackwell Mayer’s Independence (1858 – reproduced at the top of this article) are “rugged” and “self-reliant.” The subject is Squire Jack Porter and around him are the fruits of hard work. The American landscape was not (as the earliest colonists hoped) an Eden in which once could live by plucking things off trees. On the contrary, the land had to be tamed and worked. And so, the Squire is surrounded by examples of personal manufacture: a corncob pipe, a wooden bench, his wife’s knitting. Although the size of his porch suggests modesty, the rewards of his labour are his nice clothes. His expression is content but not self-satisfied. And beyond him, yet again, is the ubiquitous dense foliage of the American landscape. This is the model of the self-made “independent” man that the revolution was supposed to create.