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A Nation Divided.  The Civil War in contemporary prints
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Civil War: the home front


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Besides the political and economic impact, and direct loss of life, the Civil War had a huge impact on American society back home. With the millions of men serving in the armies of North and South, and many other individuals involved in the conflict called away from home, the make-up of society on the home front changed radically. And with the hundreds of thousands of deaths and wounded, the lives of families throughout the country were never the same. While the early prints in the war dealt with patriotic themes, the longer the war went on, the more prints were published related to the relationship between the war and those left at home.


Currier: Soldier's Home
"The Soldier's Home, The Vision." New York: Currier & Ives, 1862. Lithograph. Small folio. 12 1/4 x 7 3/4. C:5599.

With verse below the image:

Ever of him, who at his country's call,
Went forth to war in freedom's saered [sic] name;
She thinks in waking hours, and dreams are all,
Filled with his image: on the field of fame.

She sees her hero foremost in the fight,
Bearing the glorious banner of the free;
Triumphing o'er the traitors' boasted might
Then home returning crowned with victory.

A comforting image for those left at home, complete with the "home fire burning," in anticipation of the hero's return. $225



Rosenthal: Soldier's Dream of Home
Louis N. Rosenthal. "The Soldier's Dream of Home." Philadelphia: William Smith, 1864. Lithograph. 16 1/2 x 22 1/4. Repaired tears in margins and old stains at top just touching image. Otherwise, very good condition.

Louis N. Rosenthal was one of four brothers who emigrated from Poland around the middle of the century and worked in lithography in Philadelphia. The Civil War, not surprisingly, offered Louis and his brothers an opportunity of producing prints with a ready market. This stirring image shows a soldier sleeping in an encampment, over which flies the American flag, while dreaming of coming home to his family. A sad print which would have rung a familiar note with its intended audience of those who stayed at home and dreamed of their sons, husbands and fathers away at the front. $450



Thomas & Eno: Union Soldier's Dream of Home
"The Union Soldier's Dream Of Home." New York, ca. 1864. Lithograph by Thomas & Eno, New York. 11 3/4 x 16 1/4. Several expertly repaired tears and marginal chipping; professionally conserved and lined. Overall, very good condition and fine appearance.

Another soldier's "Dream Of Home," this done by a New York lithographic firm. A very similar composition and appearance, indicating the popularity of the image. This print includes a poem about the soldier's dream, perhaps the inspiration for this and the previous print. $325



Dying Soldier
H.P. Simmons. "The Dying Soldier." New York: Thomas Kelly, 1870. Engraving by A. Turrell. 22 1/2 x 17 3/8. Good margins and very good condition.

A beautifully engraved, sentimental print issued shortly after the Civil War by historical print publisher Thomas Kelly. The impact of the war lasted well after the surrender at Appomattox, especially for those families who had lost a husband/father. In Victorian America mourning pictures were standard and this lovely image captures the sentiment that was expressed by these images. A dying soldier lies in the foreground, with a broken cannon nearby, while in the background is seen artillery firing across a battleground littered with other dead and dying troops. The main figure, whose cap is crowned with a cross, does not appear in great discomfort, lying by a clear stream and surrounded by bushes in bloom, with a few white flowers ornamenting his resting spot. He gazes on a small portrait of his family, which he wear on a chain around his neck, while in the clouds above is engraved a pictured of his family. The wife appears to sense her loved one's impending death, with one child reaching out to comfort his mother and an infant at her breast. In the background of this scene is a portrait of the soldier, proudly displayed on the wall. This print itself would later have been proudly, though sadly displayed in the homes of many grieving families. $650



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©The Philadelphia Print Shop July 21, 2021