The Civil War in Art Website
Most of the artworks presented on this website were made and collected in the Northern states, so they depict the war from the point of view of the Union. Yet we can still learn about life in the Confederacy through many of them. For example, some images show the devastation for families everywhere who lost loved ones. Others show the scarred landscape or ruined buildings in the South, as seen in Dennis Malone Carter’s 1866 painting Lincoln’s Drive Through Richmond.
Many works of art portray the experiences of African Americans who escaped or were freed from bondage. While much of the art on this site was produced in the years leading up to, during, and immediately following the Civil War, some pieces were created much later—during the one-hundredth anniversary of the war in the 1960s, when the Civil Rights Movement was underway in the United States. Gus Nall’s 1963 painting Lincoln Speaks to Freedmen on the Steps of the Capital at Richmond is one such example. The struggle for freedom during this later era sparked renewed interest in the Civil War and especially in emancipation.
We invite you to explore these artworks, which help us see how the Civil War has been understood over time as well as its ongoing political and social significance. Examining the Civil War through the lens of art offers a way to expand our understanding of the event, the nation, and ourselves.