Winslow Homer’s Civil War Art

Tuesday, December 4, 2012
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm (EST) Enter Classroom Enter Forum


Kirk Savage
Associate Professor of Art History, University of Pittsburgh

About the Seminar

The unprecedented scale of the U.S. Civil War, both in its massive mobilization and in its terrible human cost, presented a tremendous challenge to visual artists who had never experienced anything like this before and had few if any visual models to imitate. Winslow Homer was perhaps the most important and innovative “delineator” of the war. Working initially as an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly, he started by producing conventional images of heroic battle but soon developed a new vocabulary for visualizing the strange new realities of modern warfare.

Through his pioneering images you will be able to explore with students such themes as battle, camp life, hospital work, and the homefront. More than any other artist he plumbed with sensitivity and depth the changing race relations of wartime and its aftermath. In the process he made the transition from illustrator to painter and launched his career as one of the greatest American artists of all time.

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Assigned Readings

  1. Battle
    1. Images
    2. "The Army of the Potomac," Harper's, July 12, 1862
    3. History of the 140th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.(excerpt)
  2. Homefront
    1. Images
    2. "News from the War," Harper's, June 14, 1862
    3. "Our Women and the War," Harper's, September 6, 1862
  3. African-American Experience
    1. Images
    2. "Have we a General Among Us", Harper's, January 17, 1863
  4. Aftermath
    1. Images

Seminar Recording