Winslow Homer’s Civil War

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Widely regarded as one of America’s greatest artists, Winslow Homer (1836-1910) first gained national recognition for insightful paintings and illustrations about the Civil War. Informed by his first-hand observations at the Union front in Virginia, Homer adopted an unconventional approach to representing war: instead of depicting dramatic battle scenes and heroic military leaders, he humanized the conflict with pictures that explored soldiers’ daily life in camp and the war’s impact on the home front. This lecture examines Homer’s unique and highly influential vision of the sectional conflict. His images address some of the most complex and pressing issues of his day—the nature of modern warfare, shifting gender and race relations, and the return to normalcy in peacetime. Provocative and visually powerful, as well as deeply nuanced and often witty, Homer’s Civil War pictures continue to resonate in the twenty-first century.