Civil War Art

Tuesday, October 27, 2009
7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m. (EST)

Prisoners from the Front, Winslow Homer, 1866


Kirk Savage

Associate Professor of Art History
University of Pittsburgh

About the Seminar

The Civil War destroyed the institution of slavery and transformed the United States socially, politically, economically, and artistically. Not only did the subject inspire some of the nation’s best painters, sculptors, photographers, and illustrators, it also changed the face of town and countryside as monuments to soldiers and statesmen of the Civil War era spread across the landscape. This workshop will pay close attention not only to the imagery of battle but also to the social and political issues which shaped the image of the war and which in many respects continue to shape us today. How did artists come to grips with the new realities of warfare and the unprecedented scale of death it caused? How did the new media of that era (especially photography) change the way that war was represented and understood? What insights did artists offer into the social and political changes happening both on the homefront and battlefront? Did the memorialization of the war in public art create new understandings of the conflict or perpetuate old myths?

Enter Moodle Forum

Assigned Readings

To incorporate seminar texts into your teaching, we offer the National Humanities Center's Primary Document Application Form.
  1. New York Evening Post, October 16, 1862 (excerpt).
  2. “Brady’s Photographs: Pictures of the Dead at Antietam,” New York Times, October 20, 1862.
  3. “The Camilla Riot,” Harper’s Weekly, October 10, 1868.


PowerPoint: 13.8 MB

Online Evaluation

War for the Union - Bayonet Charge, Winslow Homer, 1862