This post was written by Erin Friel, an intern at the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library, January-May 2013. Currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) is the installation “Bound for Freedom’s Light: African Americans and the Civil War,” which showcases portraits of familiar figures such as Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth, as well as contemporary news illustrations of lesser-known events. Those who would like to learn more about some of the topics in the exhibit can find information in the excellent resources at the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG).
To celebrate the 16th president’s birthday the Libraries has many items in its collections. Here are some highlights.
The life of a soldier can be lonely, alternating tedium with terror, and the affection of a pet can offer much solace and amusement, creating a bond that can continue long after deployment is over (for instance, there have been recent stories in the news about some U.S. Marines who have adopted pet cats in Afghanistan, detailing their efforts to bring these beloved animals back home with them). The notion of a pet cat accustomed to riding along perched on a soldier’s knapsack hardly seems so fanciful.
The nation’s second federal holiday instituted to honor those serving in the armed forces is Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day. President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) proclaimed Armistice Day to be November 11, the date of the cessation of battles between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918. In European countries this day has been known as Remembrance Day, Armistice Day or Poppy Day.
A Repository for Bottled Monsters, a blog that features all things from the National Museum of Health and Medicine, recently featured the Libraries' exhibition, Picturing Words: the Power of Book Illustration, which is on display at the National Museum of American History through mid-April. The items on display that caught this blog's eye are from The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, 1861–65 , United States Surgeon General's Office , Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1870–88, p. 830, Plate LIII. The U. S. Surgeon General’s multi-volume Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, printed between 1870 and 1888, used almost every graphic process available at the time. Pictorial technology was changing rapidly, and numerous techniques were used to produce the highest quality illustrations on time and under budget. In addition to traditional wood engravings, steel engravings, and lithographs, the book featured new photomechanical processes. —Elizabeth Periale
Recto: Charles Caryl Coleman (born Buffalo, NY, 1840; died Capri, Italy, 1928) Verso: Carte-de-visite photographer: Lorenzo Suscipj (1802-1885), Rome, Italy A native of Buffalo New York and nephew of an auctioneer and gallery owner, Charles Caryl Coleman began his artistic training from William H. Beard, a local painter. However, in 1856 he traveled to Paris and after three years then went to Florence where for two years he studied at the Accadèmia Galli. While in Florence he became close friends with Elihu Vedder, another American artist. When the American Civil War broke out, he returned to the United States in September 1862 to serve in the 100th Regiment of the New York Volunteers. However, in 1863 he was shot in the jaw in South Carolina and was discharged honorably. He briefly set up a studio in New York City, but by 1866 he was back in France with his friend Vedder. By December 1866 Coleman was in Rome where he established a studio for ten years during which he traveled more »
Alexander Lawrie (born New York, NY, 1828; died Lafayette, IN, 1917) Alexander Lawrie, son of a Scottish immigrant, started his artistic career by apprenticing as a wood engraver at the age of 16. By 1852 he had moved to Phildadelphia where he was most likely enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where several of his paintings were exhibited. In 1855 Lawrie and his friend William Trost Richards (an American landscape artist) sailed to Europe. After a brief time in Paris, Lawrie went to Düsseldorf Germany and began studying with Emanuel Leutze (an artist most famous nowadays for his painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware). After 22 months with Leutze, Lawrie went to Florence for further instruction and returned to the United States in 1857. When the American Civil War broke out, Lawrie enlisted as private in the Seventeenth Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in 1861 and rose to the rank of Captain. As part of General Burnside's march from Sharpsburg, MD to Fredericksburg, VA, Lawire was more »