The Legacy of “Old Osawatomie”: John Brown in Art and Memory

By Ryan Bilger ’19

Have you seen this man before?

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Tragic Prelude (1940) by John Steuart Curry. Located in the east wing of the 2nd floor rotunda in the Kansas State Capitol Building. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Perhaps you have, and perhaps you’ve already thought a bit about him and what he represents to you. But if you have not, take a moment and just look at him, and consider the question I have raised. What emotions does this painting, showing a man towering over other figures and a landscape like a god stir up in you?

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Images of Power, Images of War: Schmucker Art Gallery’s New Exhibit

By Laurel Wilson ’19

Bodies in Conflict: From Gettysburg to Iraq is a brand new exhibit in Schmucker Art Gallery at Gettysburg College. Curated by Mellon Summer Scholar Laura Bergin ’17, it features eleven depictions of bodies engaged in various conflicts in U.S. history, ranging from the Civil War to the war in Iraq. In addition to curating the physical exhibit found in Schmucker Art Gallery, Bergin also created a virtual version, which can be accessed online through the Schmucker Gallery web page. Of particular interest to those interested in the Civil War are two of the oldest pieces in the collection, a lithograph depicting Pennsylvania Bucktails engaging with “Stonewall” Jackson’s men and stenograph images that depict the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Stereoscope portraying the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
This stereoscope portraying the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg is featured in Bergin’s exhibit. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Bergin’s self-designed major, Images of Conflict, was the basis for creating the exhibit, and her interdisciplinary focus shines in the exhibit’s curation. Bergin focuses on both the artistic and historical context of each image, bringing to the forefront the emotions each image is attempting to convey to the viewers. She worked closely with her faculty mentor, Shannon Egan, director of Schmucker Art Gallery, as well as Carolyn Sautter and Molly Reynolds of Musselman Library Special Collections in order to gather pieces from the college collections for the exhibit. Bergin also wrote up short essays for each piece featured in the collection that provide historical context as well as her own interpretations of each piece’s meaning, which are installed next to each piece and featured in the exhibit catalog. Continue reading “Images of Power, Images of War: Schmucker Art Gallery’s New Exhibit”

Confederate War Etchings: Adalbert J. Volck’s Visual Depiction of the Confederate War Effort

By Savannah Rose ’17

During the Civil War, both the Union and the Confederacy utilized art to convey their sentiments regarding different aspects of the war. Most Civil War enthusiasts often recall drawings and cartoons by Thomas Nast when they think about political cartoons of the 19th century. Nast drew numerous cartoons for the Northern newspaper Harpers Weekly, commenting frequently on the Confederate States of America, the Civil War, as well as the political corruption of the era. Nast grew in fame across the Union, but the Confederacy, too, had its share of political cartoons and drawings that criticized the Northern war effort. Though not very popular during the Civil War, Adalbert J. Volck created political cartoons that resonated strongly with the Confederate war effort and the Lost Cause following 1865.

Adalbert Johann Volck was born on April 14, 1828 in Bavaria, Germany. As a young child, his parents decided that their son should focus on the sciences, sending him to the Nuremburg Polytechnic Institute. During his spare time though, Volck spent countless hours with a group of artists where he learned the basics of drawing and etching. He moved on to the University of Munich, where he once again studied science but longed to further his art career which led to him making use of Munich’s art academy to continue to develop his skills. While in Munich, Volck participated in the rising political revolution in early 1848, causing him to flee Bavaria for New York City.

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Adalbert J. Volck drew numerous drawings and cartoons to aid the Confederate war effort. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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The Intersection of Art and Public History: Schmucker Art Gallery’s Newest Exhibit

By Jeff Lauck ’18

“‘Pray For the People Who Feed You’: Voices of Pauper Children in the Industrial Age” is the newest exhibit to be featured in the Schmucker Art Gallery at Gettysburg College. The exhibit was curated by Gettysburg College senior Rebecca Duffy ’16, and is the culmination of her three semester International Bridge Course (IBC) program. At its opening on Friday, October 2, Duffy discussed her experiences with the IBC program and the process she went through in putting together this unique project.

Grist For the Mill, by Minna Citron. This painting, currently in the “Pray For the People Who Feed You: Voices of Pauper Children in the Industrial Age” exhibit in Schmucker Art Gallery depicts two impoverished children who read about the world events that unfold around them.
Grist For the Mill, by Minna Citron. This painting, currently in the “Pray For the People Who Feed You: Voices of Pauper Children in the Industrial Age” exhibit at Schmucker Art Gallery depicts two impoverished children reading about the world events unfolding around them.

Duffy is an Art History and History double major with a minor in the new Public History program. In designing her project, she wanted to incorporate elements of each of her areas of study. Duffy was also influenced by her work as a Pohanka Intern at Petersburg National Battlefield and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. The International Bridge Course program at Gettysburg College offers students the opportunity to work with a faculty mentor over a three semester period, with the middle semester being conducted through the study abroad program. Continue reading “The Intersection of Art and Public History: Schmucker Art Gallery’s Newest Exhibit”

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Coster Avenue Mural

By Brianna Kirk ’15

The Gettysburg Battlefield has over one thousand monuments dedicated to a host of brave men who fought and gave their lives during the three day engagement in July of 1863. Littered alongside well-traveled roads and points of attraction on the battlefield, most do not go unnoticed. There are a few, however, that do. One of them commemorates Captain Heckman’s Battery K of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery, an oft-passed but unnoticed monument on Gettysburg College’s campus and the focus of one of my previous blog posts . Another cluster of monuments in the vicinity of the Gettysburg College campus and Heckman’s monument is just as much, if not more, removed from what one would consider the traditional battlefield and is often overlooked if not forgotten about. But if the readers of the Gettysburg Compiler are anything like me, the stories behind these forgotten monuments, the ones rarely told, are the most interesting ones of the battle.

If you were to turn down Stevens Street from Carlisle Street, you would eventually determine that you hit a dead end road. At least that was what I thought when the van carrying thirty Gettysburg College students on an unconventional battlefield tour turned down the street and came to a stop in front of a grassy area. Confusion set in as we were instructed to unload off the bus. This wasn’t the battlefield; we were in a neighborhood.

Coster Avenue Mural, photo credit to Randy Drais.
Coster Avenue Mural, photo credit to Randy Drais.

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Notation and Memorandum: Special Artists and their Portrayal of the American Civil War

By Bryan Caswell ’15

As the first war to see the extensive use of photography, the American Civil War was brought home to civilians in hundreds of photographs portraying camp life or the aftermath of battles. Due to the nature of nineteenth century photography as well as safety concerns, however, photographers were not able to capture scenes of actual combat for their viewers. This task fell instead to men known as Special Artists or “Specials,” hired by the illustrated periodicals of the day to travel with the armies and sketch all manner of events associated with the military, including battles as they progressed.

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The Restoration of the Gettysburg Cyclorama

by Allie Ward ’14, Art Conservation Correspondent The Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama, located in the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center, is the second of four paintings by French artist Paul Philippoteaux depicting Pickett???s Charge. The cycloram…

By Allie Ward ’14

The Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama, located in the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center, is the second of four paintings by French artist Paul Philippoteaux depicting Pickett’s Charge. The cyclorama was originally commissioned in 1884 for display in Boston due to the fervent popularity of the first Gettysburg cyclorama in Chicago. After a few years on display in Boston the cyclorama was moved about the country. It spent part of its life in Philadelphia, part as wall paper in a department store in New Jersey, part on display in an armory in Baltimore, and part housed in a crate in a warehouse, before the painting was finally brought to Gettysburg in 1913.

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Gallery Review: Visualizing War

by Katy Rettig, ’15 Gettysburg College???s Schmucker Art Gallery recently presented a student curated exhibition entitled ???Visualizing War??? that consisted of materials found within Special Collections of Musselman Library. The allotted space for the…

By Katy Rettig ’15

Gettysburg College’s Schmucker Art Gallery recently presented a student curated exhibition entitled “Visualizing War” that consisted of materials found within Special Collections of Musselman Library. The allotted space for the exhibit featured twelve pieces all pertaining to the Civil War. The curators, Natalie Sherif, Alexandra Ward, and Andrew Egbert, desired to capture the sentiments of those living in the North one-hundred and fifty years ago through the art pieces chosen. Although the display was small, it exuded remembrance and accomplished the curators’ specific purpose.

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Sherif, Ward, and Egbert did an excellent job collaborating their selected parts into a whole, meaningful exhibit. The use of a variety of carefully researched sources to examine Northern perceptions of the American Civil War and the evolution of its political, social, and militaristic visual representations was impressive. Special Collections at Musselman Library houses all of the displayed images and head archivist Carolyn Sautter aided in pulling the exhibit together. Being limited to the objects hindered the total effect that could have been posed in the exhibit through the use of additional outside images yet the pieces chosen still proved to achieve the goal. Special Collections has a vast collection of Civil War artifacts and memorabilia, therefore, more pieces could have been involved in the exhibit to enhance the presentation. Nonetheless the twelve chosen portrayed a crucial part of the American Civil War.

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The title of the exhibition, Visualizing War, seemed to be misleading. Entering the exhibit, unknowing of the purpose, I expected to see various photographs of several wars. The title was appropriate, but needed to be refined with a description following the name to specify the meaning of the exhibition. The exhibition also could have been more successful if images from both the Northern and Southern perspectives were displayed. More well-rounded pieces would have enhanced the experience for the visitor, because the Civil War was not one sided. A strict division in the exhibition I believe would have been more powerful in visualizing the whole concept of the war. The exhibition also could possibly have been better designed if images from other-American wars were included.

The pieces themselves portrayed varying perspectives on the Civil War. I discovered that I was able to break down the twelve images into three categories: colorization of images, propaganda, and aftermath. Each category exhibited a different perspective of the war. The colors used in three of the pictures on display developed their own message regardless of the exact drawing. The use of color seems to be fairly important in the romanticized view of war and death. The 1863 map also used vibrant colors and connected to the notion of the North being the correct side. Five of the pieces entered into the exhibition were political propaganda pieces of the Civil War era that showed the negative view of the Confederacy. The last four pieces depicted heroic battle scenes and the brutal difficulties that were associated with the War Between the States. All of the images combined created a powerful visual exhibit that deserves notable recognition for a successful commemoration of the sesquicentennial.

Images from Special Collections, Musselman Library, Gettysburg College.  

Crucible of War?: The Borough and the Battle of Gettysburg

Upon cresting Cemetery Hill, painter George Leo Frankenstein captured this panorama of the newly famous borough of Gettysburg. Frankenstein did not have to dodge gunfire nor breathe the smell of death as he strode up the gradual rise southeast of …

 By Brian Johnson ’14

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Upon cresting Cemetery Hill, painter George Leo Frankenstein captured this panorama of the newly famous borough of Gettysburg.  Frankenstein did not have to dodge gunfire nor breathe the smell of death as he strode up the gradual rise southeast of town, for it was summertime, 1866, and only scant evidence remained of the landmark battle fought three years earlier.  But perhaps this reality weighed on his mind.  He was a painter who had come to capture a town and landscape made famous by war, but as he stood atop Cemetery Hill that experience must have seemed obscure.  Only the pair of cannon emplacements behind which Frankenstein placed his easel suggested that this was anything other than an ordinary community; but even these, visible in the foreground at the bottom of the painting, seem out of place amidst a backdrop of summertime green, neat houses, and rolling fields once again filled with crops.

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The Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama in Philadelphia

Following the first two days of fighting at Gettysburg between Union and Confederate troops, Robert E. Lee believed that his gray-clad veterans had nearly achieved victory and was determined not to leave Gettysburg without it. He also believed tha…

Following the first two days of fighting at Gettysburg between Union and Confederate troops, Robert E. Lee believed that his gray-clad veterans had nearly achieved victory and was determined not to leave Gettysburg without it.  He also believed that his army had weakened Meade’s center.  Thus, Lee’s plan for July 3rd was to open with a massive artillery barrage, and then strike the Union center with three divisions, including that of General George Pickett.  Then, according to Lee’s calculations, General Jeb Stuart would circle around the Union rear and General Ewell would assail the right flank to clamp the pincers when Pickett broke through the front.

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