John La Farge, a talented author and artist, was a pioneer in the art of stained glass. His celebrated work Battle Window, in Memorial Hall at Harvard University was installed in 1870. In 1876 he did the mural decorations for Trinity Church in Boston. La Farge also executed stained glass windows for churches in Buffalo, N.Y., and Worcester, Mass., and for the chapel of Columbia University in New York City. What is referred to as American glass is an outgrowth of his experimentation.
Among the books published this year was The Story of a Bad Boy, a favorite boys' book by Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Semiautobiographical, the book provided a fresh account of boyhood, eschewing the moralizing that characterized most juvenile fiction. Other books published this year included the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward Fitzgerald, and The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Sketches by Bret Harte, which catapulted the author to international fame.
A great impetus was given to vaudeville in New York City by the team of Edward Harrigan and Tom Hart. Portraying a male and female combination, they satirized baseball, politics, the armed forces, blacks, Germans, Italians, and many aspects of city life.
Scribner's Monthly, the leading periodical of the 1870s, was founded. Unlike other literary magazines, it gave preference to American writers, including Edward Eggleston, Joaquin Miller, Bret Harte, and Frank Stockton.
Corcoran Art Gallery, in Washington, D.C., was incorporated by an act of Congress. William C. Corcoran, a financier, had given $300,000 to build the gallery, which was completed in 1859. During the Civil War it had been used for military purposes. Corcoran also gave $1,000,000 to acquire a collection, as well as 79 paintings from his own collection.
The mecca for American painters was no longer London, Rome, or Dusseldorf, but Paris. Painters such as William Morris Hunt, John La Farge, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler were influenced by the prominent French schools.
Saratoga, a play by Bronson Howard, was produced on the New York stage. Howard was the only U.S. dramatist of the nineteenth century who was able to earn his living by writing for the stage.
Frontier drama burst on the stage with the popular Kit the Arkansas Traveler by Thomas Blades DeWalden. It was followed by Horizon (1871) by Augustin Daly, Davy Crockett (1872) by Frank Murdock, The Gilded Age (1874) by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, The Two Men from Sandy Bar (1876) by Bret Harte, and The Danites in the Sierras (1877) by Joaquin Miller.