The Civil War and American Art

Eleanor Jones Harvey

The Civil War redefined America and forever changed American art. The war’s grim reality, captured through the new medium of photography, was laid bare. American artists could not glamorize the hero on the battlefield. Instead, many found ways to weave the war into works of art that considered the human narrative—the daily experiences of soldiers, slaves, and families left behind. Artists and writers also used landscape imagery to give voice to their misgivings as well as their hopes for themselves and the nation.

The Civil War and American Art looks at the range of artwork created in the years between 1852 and 1877. Author Eleanor Jones Harvey surveys paintings made by some of America’s finest artists, including Frederic Edwin Church, Sanford Gifford, Winslow Homer, and Eastman Johnson, and photographs taken by George Barnard, Alexander Gardner, and Timothy O’Sullivan.

Reviews in Brief

“The author’s genius is to realize that American artists dealt with the war metaphorically—in landscape and in genre paintings—and not in history paintings. Once she threw off the bonds of literalism…she could write a very good book indeed. And, more importantly, she could deal with America’s greaters painters of the period.”
— Mark E. Neely Jr in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography


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Product Details

Copublished with Yale University Press
Year Published
317 pp.: Ill (103 color, 110 black-and-white)
  • Hardcover: 978-0-300-18733-5
  • Softcover: 978-0-937311-98-1
10 1412 12 in.


Media - 1986.79 - SAAM-1986.79_2 - 133578
The Civil War and American Art
November 16, 2012April 28, 2013
The Civil War and American Art examines how America’s artists represented the impact of the Civil War and its aftermath.