Artistic Snobbery

Serious American artists during the Early American Period (1789 – 1815) thought that genre scenes were too mean and lowly for
their talent. So major painters such as John Vanderlyn and Samuel Morse
scorned the depicting of ordinary folk – except, said Vanderlyn, Italian
peasants. With their lack of “fashion and frivolity,” Italian peasants,
Vanderlyn declared, were close enough to nature to possess a
neoclassical universality that was worth depicting.