M975.61.144 | A Skating Scene
A Skating Scene
E. J. Whitney
1850-1860, 19th century
23 x 35 cm
Gift of Mr. Charles deVolpi
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Genre (188) , Print (10661)
Keys to History
With the spread of leisure pursuits came questions as to which were good and which were bad. How did one define a good pastime? Or identify a bad one? The answer was at once simple and complicated. The most highly valued pastimes were formative, enriching, elevating, or contributed to spiritual growth. Conversely, the bad ones -- those that appealed to the emotions, inflamed passions and included violence -- were seen as threatening and accordingly denounced. Nonetheless, activities like skating, normally considered healthy, sometimes flew in the face of convention and social norms. Drawing and maintaining a line was no easy matter.
Cincy Aron, A History of Vacations in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 35-36
Gilles Janson, Emparons-nous du sport : Les Canadiens français et le sport au XIXe siècle (Montreal: Guérin, 1995), pp. 120-121.
Skating was a very accessible sport, widely practiced by children and adults alike.
Skating rinks, or ice rinks, were areas swept clean of snow on frozen lakes, ponds or rivers.
Skating became very popular in the 1860s, when manufactured metal-bladed skates came onto the market.
This scene of a woman pursued by a horde of men was no doubt shocking in its day, judging from the onlookers' astounded expressions.