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The Civil War and American Art

Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900). Our Banner in the Sky (detail), 1861.
Oil on paper; 7 1/2 x 11 1/4 in. Collection of Fred Keeler


The exhibition is made possible by an anonymous foundation.
Additional support is provided by the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund and
the Enterprise Holdings Endowment.
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The exhibition was organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from the Anschutz Foundation; Ludmila and Conrad Cafritz; Christie's; Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins; Tania and Tom Evans; Norma Lee and Morton Funger; Dorothy Tapper Goldman; Raymond J. and Margaret Horowitz Endowment; Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts; Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason Foundation; Joffa and Bill Kerr; Thelma and Melvin Lenkin; Henry Luce Foundation; Paula and Peter Lunder; Margery and Edgar Masinter; Barbro and Bernard Osher; Walter and Lucille Rubin Foundation; Patricia Rubin and Ted Slavin; Holly and Nick Ruffin. The C.F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the museum’s traveling exhibition program, Treasures to Go.

Featured Media

The American Civil War: Shadows of Ourselves

Program information

This three-part Sunday at the Met program was held in conjunction with the exhibitions Photography and the American Civil War (on view April 2–September 2, 2013) and The Civil War and American Art (May 27–September 2, 2013).

Part One: "Shadows of Ourselves," by Jeff L. Rosenheim, Curator in Charge, Department of Photographs

Recorded June 23, 2013

The Civil War and American Art

May 27–September 2, 2013

Accompanied by a catalogue and an Audio Guide

This major loan exhibition considers how American artists responded to the Civil War and its aftermath. Landscapes and genre scenes—more than traditional history paintings—captured the war's impact on the American psyche. The works of art on display trace the trajectory of the conflict and express the intense emotions that it provoked: unease as war became inevitable, optimism that a single battle might end the struggle, growing realization that fighting would be prolonged, enthusiasm and worries alike surrounding emancipation, and concerns about how to reunify the nation after a period of grievous division. The exhibition proposes significant new readings of many familiar masterworks—some sixty paintings and eighteen photographs created between 1852 and 1877—including outstanding landscapes by Frederic E. Church and Sanford R. Gifford, paintings of life on the battlefront and the home front by Winslow Homer and Eastman Johnson, and photographs by Timothy H. O'Sullivan and George N. Barnard. The exhibition at the Metropolitan coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863).

Related Works on View

Two related displays are on view at the Museum: the exhibition Photography and the American Civil War (April 2–September 2, 2013); and, in Gallery 690, a selection of American prints reflecting Civil War themes, by Winslow Homer, Thomas Nast, and others (May 20–August 25, 2013). Additional works of art pertaining to the Civil War—all from the permanent collections of the Metropolitan—are on view in The American Wing.