Sherman in Paint

An interesting look at a painting of General Sherman in 1866.  Paintings do not bulk very large in our historical memory of the Civil War.  The cutting edge technology of photography had by the Civil War usurped the role of painting in preserving the images of the famous for posterity.  Sherman  looks distinctly more haggard and old in his Civil War photographs than in this 1866 portrait.  Of course, it is post war, so some of the difference is no doubt due to the easing of the burden of command and the trauma of war that Sherman had to the full during the conflict.  However, paintings do seem to often smooth the rough edges of the subjects of portraits with a calm that may not have been typical of the person being painted.  Photographs, even the primitive photography of the Civil War era, captured the more immediate emotions of the subjects than a portrait painted over several sittings.  Additionally, photographs made no pretensions to be art, but simply a utilitarian means of preserving likenesses, while portrait paintings usually strove to be both.

 

The portrait was  painted by George Peter Alexander Healy, perhaps the most renowned American portrait painter of his day.  Sherman, at least as represented in popular memory as a no nonsense soldier, one would expect to have a fairly prosaic mind and not to be interested in art.  Such was not at all the case.  Sherman suggested to the painter a portrait known as The Peacekeepers which recalled a meeting of Lincoln, Grant and Sherman near the end of the War:

 

 

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Published in: on May 14, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Sherman in Paint  
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