After the Battle
Gilbert Gaul is best known for his American military (earlier period) and genre scenes (later work). He was variously a painter and graphic illustrator, producing works for “Century Magazine” and “Harper’s Weekly” during and after the Civil War. At the age of twenty-seven Gaul became the youngest person to be admitted into the prestigious National Academy. The battle being referred to in the work’s title is the battle of Antietam (Sept, 1862, Sharpsburg, MD). It was the first major battle of the Civil War to take place after the Confederate Army’s advance into Union territory. It was also, “the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with a combined tally of dead, wounded, and missing at 22,717.” The Southern aspect here is in the dramatized presentation of the subject as an allegorical heroine. Keep in mind we are looking at an image created years after the end of the Civil War. We should see it in context with Reconstruction-era attitudes toward slavery in the South and the social & racial outcomes of the war. This early work on paper exemplifies Gaul’s approach; the dramatic presentation of single, isolated foreground figures, emphasized here by a background haze of cannon fire and the visual repetition between the woman’s tattered scarf and the broken branches of the trees in the background.
Wright Collection of Southern Art
Still Image Item Type Metadata
graphite and gouache on paper
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