With Brush, Mold, Chisel, and Pen: Reflections on Civil War Art

CW Art Exhibit Poster SmallGettysburg’s first exhibit of artwork focusing on Gettysburg and the American Civil War will open June 29. With Brush, Mold, Chisel, and Pen: Reflections on Civil War Art features some of the most celebrated artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries – including several who served in the war. The artwork is rendered in oil, pen-and-ink and sculpture and capture battles from the perspective of leaders and the common soldier.

The exhibit debuts in the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center’s Gilder Lehrman Special Exhibits Gallery and includes art from the collection of Gettysburg National Military Park, as well as from the collections of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Some of the highlights are:

canteen frontWooden drum-style canteen. This early 19th century military “cheesebox” canteen may have been carried or painted by a Confederate soldier – they were common among Southern forces – to pass the time or reminisce about wartime service. The canteen is an example of how soldiers expressed themselves through creative illustration on or customization of military equipment.

carved walnut cane full length

Carved walnut cane made from a limb of a tree at Devil’s Den, Gettysburg Battlefield. A popular folk-art form of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, battlefield wood souvenir canes provided a tangible link to hallowed ground for veterans and post-war visitors alike. Visitors enjoyed them as mementos of their pilgrimage to the battlefield.  Often fashioned from trees at a battlefield location with special significance or featuring carvings based on familiar military symbols or themes, the canes provided Civil War veterans with connections to their wartime experiences.

Maj Gen George Gordon MeadeFull-length oil portrait of Major General George G. Meade by Thomas Hicks (1823-1890).  A renowned 19th century portrait painter, Hicks completed this large-scale portrait of George Gordon Meade, commander of the Union’s Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg and throughout the end of the war, in 1876.  The painting incorporates many characteristics of grand-format European portraits.  Hicks started his art studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and continued them in New York, London, Paris, Florence and Rome – experiencing many of the classical portrait styles that came to exemplify his work.

Gen Robert E. LeeBronze bust of Confederate General Robert E. Lee by Moses Jacob Ezekiel (1844-1917). The sculpture is one Confederate soldier’s tribute to his former commander. The first Jewish student to attend Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Ezekiel was wounded in the renowned charge of the VMI cadets at the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1864. After the war, he returned to VMI, graduating in 1866. The prominent American sculptor studied in Berlin and lived and worked the majority of his life in Rome. Ezekiel won a number of competitions and completed significant commissioned sculptures in Europe and America.

The National Parks are great places to visit to learn about history of course, but you can also learn lessons in communication and arts at Gettysburg by studying the Gettysburg Address and monument dedication speeches, for example. You can study character education through Gettysburg’s leadership, citizenship, courage etc., and you can learn about science and nature by study geology at Devil’s Den for example, or Gettysburg’s topographic engineering.

At Gettysburg, the arts are all around us through the monuments, as well as the paintings and photographs and poems that the landscape and its history have inspired.

Admission to With Brush, Mold, Chisel, and Pen: Reflections on Civil War Art is included with the purchase of Cyclorama, Film and Museum Experience tickets or with purchase of museum-only tickets, all available at the ticket counter in the lobby of the Museum & Visitor Center, online at http://www.gettysburgfoundation.org, or by telephone at 877-874-2478.The exhibit is sponsored by the Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg National Military Park.

Katie Lawhon, Gettysburg National Military Park


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