Skip to main content

Main Building

Breaking Home Ties

Thomas Hovenden, American (born Ireland), 1840 - 1895
Voted the most popular painting at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, Breaking Home Ties captured the American imagination as few other pictures have. The 1890s saw the decline of small family farms and the necessity of young sons leaving the land to make a living in the city or on what little was left of the frontier. The scene Thomas Hovenden depicts here had been enacted in many homes, and the composition gave American families a visual record of their own turmoil. The artist used models he knew well: each figure can be identified as a relative or friend of the Hovendens, including the family dog....

Object Details

We are always learning more about our collection and updating the website. Want to share your knowledge about this work with us? Contact us here.

Please note that this particular artwork might not be on view when you visit. Don’t worry—we have plenty of exhibitions for you to explore.

Main Building