Attributed to Oliver H. Willard (American, active 1850s–70s, died 1875)
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 20.3 x 15.2 cm (8 x 6 in.)
Mount: 33.3 x 25.7 cm (13 1/8 x 10 1/8 in.)
Purchase, Saundra B. Lane Gift, in honor of Charles Isaacs, 2010
Not on view
This hand-colored portrait provides a good look at the colors of war—at least as worn by the Union army. It comes from a set of photographs commissioned in 1866 by Montgomery Meigs, Quartermaster General of the United States Army during and after the Civil War. Known as "the army behind the army," the Quartermaster Corps is the army’s oldest logistical branch. Then and now it is charged with clothing, transporting, and sustaining large field armies far away from their base camps. Meigs understood the historical value of permanently recording the clothing (with accurate colors) and personal accouterments worn by soldiers and officers during the war. The portraits by Oliver H. Willard, still a relatively obscure photographer, all show the same soldier/actor wearing a wide variety of uniforms and posing with the tools and emblems of his service and rank.
Inscription: Title inscribed in ink on mount below image, recto BC: "Light Artillery, Sergeant Major."; dealer's inscription in pencil in unknown hand, recto BC: "x1035"
[...]; (Cowan's: "Historic Americana," December 4-5, 2008, lot 122); [Charles Isaacs, New York]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photography and the American Civil War," April 2, 2013–September 2, 2013.
Gibbes Museum of Art. "Photography and the American Civil War," September 27, 2013–January 5, 2014.
New Orleans Museum of Art. "Photography and the American Civil War," January 31, 2014–May 4, 2014.
Another set of the prints, also colored, from the personal collection of Quartermaster Montgomery Meigs is in the collection of the Quartermaster Museum in Fort Lee, Virginia.