During America’s Civil War, photographers like Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan recorded in detail the gruesome aftermath of several battles. During this same period, painters like Albert Bierstadt depicted naturalistic scenes devoid of man-made conflicts. Gifts from individuals to Chicago’s museums allow viewers to see Chicago’s, art links to America’s Civil War.
This is a wood engraving on paper by Winslow Homer (9 3/16 in. x 13 ¾ in. for the image). Close inspection will reveal a soldier holding a fish (herring?), a soldier eating a pie and a soldier drinking from a bottle (The bottle probably contained alcoholic cider as a sign in the background advertises.). This engraving has the Realism Style; it may have been an actual scene. This engraving is in an Art Institute of Chicago collection.
Way up north, and somewhat distant from any battles, Albert Bierstadt painted this Naturalism Style scene on canvas. This oil-on-canvas painting measures 44 in. x 35 15/16 in. Close inspection reveals at least three, small waterfalls; a brook (Bierstadt did not indicate whether it was babbling.); and a kingfisher perched on a rotten tree branch. (This bird is not fishing for kings, nor is it the best fisher in the animal kingdom.) This painting is in an Art Institute of Chicago collection.
By photographer Timothy O’Sullivan, this albumen print measures 5 13/16 in. x 8 13/16 in. This photo is definitely Realism Style; it depicts many, dead, human bodies; a man astride a horse; and a man alongside another horse. This is part of an Art Institute of Chicago collection.
In this oil-on-canvas painting by John Antrobus (1837-1907), General Grant has a three-quarter length pose. (Compare this painting to most paintings/depictions that are available for Grant, and you will notice that in this one he is much thinner and athletically fit.) Measuring 50 in. x 40 ½ in. This painting has the Realism Style. This is part of a Chicago Public Library collection.
An unknown artist inscribed this image of an African American soldier on this whale’s tooth (scrimshaw). (Could an artistic and intelligent whale carve an image of a whaler on a human’s tooth?) Likely the result of an actual soldier posing in an actual scene, this is Realism Style art. This piece measures 5 in. x 2½ in. and is in a Chicago History Museum collection.