A House Divided Against Itself, Will Not Stand - Cody Grammer

This is a series of oil paintings created during and after the American Civil War.  These images depict the emotions and brutality of racial tension between the North and the South, causing the deadliest conflict in American history.  More of our own people died in this war than any other.  "History repeats itself," is a common phrase among historians.  In today's society, it seems that racial tension has slowly been rebuilding causing more and more hate between neighbors and friends.  As you move through the paintings and get to the end, let this be a stark reminder that our country can be brought to ruin by hate if we let it.  Please let this be a road we don't travel down again.  

The Emblems of the Civil War depicts the traditional garb of a Union soldier hanging on a wall. There are swords, a canteen, ammo pouch, the flag, a hat, a knife, and several guns. The artist, Alexander Pope, added his name on a tag that's pinned to the wall in the lower left hand corner of the painting. The artists uses lines to direct your attention throughout the artwork. The contours of the swords direct you across the painting diagonally, also creating emphasis by making an "x" near the center of the painting. The contrast of light and dark of the flag focuses your attention right there. This would be a staunch reminder of a soldier's life to see everyday in one place. I believe the painting is visually aesthetic as it is balanced very well. The swords and the guns at the top are crossed, the items hanging at the far left and right are near equal, and even the flag is divided almost perfectly down the center. This may have been a representation of the splitting of America at the time.
Battery, Forward! is a vibrant colorful painting that illustrates the frantic energy that a battle can create. The army is moving the heavy artillery to the frontline of the battle. This would obviously be a difficult task, as shown here, because of the sounds of war spooking the horses. William B. T. Trego uses haze in the background and paints the horses and men in the foreground in rich color to emphasize them as the main focus. The direction the horses are facing lead you to the center of the painting, while the majority of the men are looking to our left converging our focus on the center of the painting where the action is happening. Mr. Trego painted the horse in the center higher than the rest to draw your eyes to it and see the white in it's eyes and raised body to show how scared it is. The soldier is falling off while another soldier tries to maintain control of the fleeing horse.
A Ride for Liberty- The Fugitive Slaves is a hauntingly beautiful representation of slave family fleeing for freedom. There is not much definition to the painting, but I believe that to be on purpose to indicate that the scene depicted was happening during the dusk or dawn. This would be for the safety of the man's family, as he they are less likely to be seen in the dark. The horse and it's occupants are much darker in color than the background as Mr. Johnson used contrast to emphasize the family. The blurring of the feet and the tail of the horse waving in the wind indicate motion to the viewer as the family speeds to safety. The woman on the back of the horse is looking back as to search for the slave owner that might be chasing them.
The Hunted Slaves represents a frightening reality that runaway slaves had to face. The slave and his partner are being chased down by dogs that have surely been trained to dislike and attack slaves if they were ever to escape. The man here is defending himself with an axe from the attacking dogs. They are in a field and were probably trying to hide when they were attacked. One dog has already been presumably killed and the man is swinging the axe at the others. The artist uses texture in great detail here. The dogs' fur looks soft enough to run your hand through. The man's muscles are well defined and there are even some scars indicating he was more than likely beaten several times before.
In this painting by Winslow Homer, a couple of soldiers are seen around a campfire cooking a meal. It looks like there may even be the boot of a sleeping soldier sticking out of the tent on the left. In the background are more soldiers on the ground. In the far distance there are even more tents setup. The title of the painting seems to be sarcastic, as the soldiers in the painting don't seem to thrilled to be where they are at the moment. The artist uses proportion by showing the tiny tents in the background and creating the illusion that this is a huge base camp for the army.
The Bright Side is a painting by Winslow Homer that portrays slaves resting at tent during the Civil War. These were obviously either freed slaves from the North or runaway slaves from the South. Either way, they are now able to do as they please. These men are much better off than the slaves in the South and I think the artist portrays this with how relaxed he painted them. The artist paints the wagons and horses in the background a little less defined then the men in the foreground maintaining the focus on them. The lines from the tent even lead down to the men lying on the ground. The man sticking his head out of the tent is drawn looking directly at the viewer. It's hard to say the intent of this, as it may have just been what the artist was actually witnessing at the time. The man may have been watching him paint the picture of them.
The Home Guard is not as heart wrenching as the other scenes I have shown so far, but this was a situation that I am sure occurred all too often as a result of the war. Here a Union soldier is seen guarding a home of some civilians. He is helping one woman by holding some yarn for her while she works with it. It seems as though the man has said something flirtatious to the young woman he is helping as she is looking away from him and the artist painted red color in her cheeks to show she is blushing. The woman in the middle looks scoldingly at the man for doing so. The artist uses the natural light and shadows to create depth to the scene. This is a unique depiction of a soldier during the Civil War.
The Last Moments of John Brown is an oil painting that illustrates the harshness of slavery at it's finest. John Brown was an abolitionist that fought to free slaves, but as you can see here he was sentenced to death by hanging. Mr. Brown is seen here leaning to his child and wife as he tells them goodbye. The artist uses the soldiers, the rails, and the columns of the porch to border our focus on the characters in the center. Unfortunately the poverty of the men and women there supporting Mr. Brown is seen by the artist's decision to draw them in their bare feet. The government system was not kind to those in the lower class, especially those that were slaves.
Order No. 11 painted by George Caleb Bingham shows the Union army as they force a slave owner and his family to leave their home after the army has set it ablaze and seems to have killed two members of the slave owner's family. The artist uses variety to keep your eyes moving across the entirety of this painting. He also uses proportion to emphasize the vastness of this atrocity. The smoke from several other homes billows in the distance. Not all slave owners treated their slaves poorly. I believe this is indicated with the look of fear on the young boy's face and the man with his hands covering his own face. There is also a woman holding the dead slave owner's wife on the ground on the left. There is an overwhelming sadness to this painting.
Lastly, the Assassination of Lincoln painted by Howard Hill shows men carrying President Lincoln out of the Ford Theater after he has been shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth. At the top of the painting, Mr. Hill depicts John Wilkes Booth riding away on horseback while a cloud of dark creatures close in on him. The artist painted snakes, hands with sharp nails, faces and dogs/wolves surrounding Mr. Booth. Mr. Hill chose to leave the clothing of the characters in the painting to be so dark that you can't really see any of it, therefore leading your eyes to scan the lightened faces of everyone in the room. The sadness at the loss of such an influential man is highly evident here. Mr. Booth supposedly said, "The South is avenged!" after he shot the President. The hate caused by racial issues ended the life of an extremely important advocate of the fight against slavery. In the blink of an eye, hate brought down the leader of the United States of America. This should never happen again.
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