Two pen and ink drawings on board, 12 x 15 in., matted and framed, 15.25 x 20 in. Initialed "A.R.W." Drawing at left inscribed, "Sharpshooters, 18th Corps front. Siege of Petersburg"; drawing at right inscribed "Bivouac at the 5th Corps in the rifle pits." Published in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. 4, p. 560; The American Heritage Century Collection of Civil War Art, p. 288, plate 302. Similar sketch of left side subjects found in Alfred R. Waud, Civil War Artist, p. 159, plate 80; and They Were There, Philip Van Doren Stern, Crown Publishing, 1959, p. 108; Harper's Weekly, August 6, 1864.
Each sketch presents great detail of sharpshooters "at work" as well as a long line of Union rifle pits with troops of the 5th Corps in the trench. Note that some of the troops are looking across the siege line toward the Confederate works.
The David L. Hack Civil War Art Collection
While the photographic process evolved rapidly from its inception in 1839 and the wet plate process of taking photographs was coming into widespread use by the start of the Civil War, it was a cumbersome process in the field as well as the studio. More significantly, at that time the photographs themselves could not be reproduced as illustrations accompanying written reports of the war.
As a result, publishers of newspapers and other periodicals in major cities, primarily in the North, employed a number of sketch artists who traveled with armies to draw the scenes that they witnessed. These sketches, most frequently pencil on paper with brief identifications of people and places, were then sent back by courier to the periodical publishers. The battlefield sketches received by the publishers were then copied by engraving artists onto wooden blocks, which were used in printing presses to illustrate printed articles covering the war.
Unlike the photographers of the day, who were limited to capturing the aftermath of battles, the sketch artists had the advantage of recording what they were witnessing as the events occurred before their eyes.
Lots 174-180 feature the original artwork of noted battlefield artist Alfred R. Waud (1828-1891). Born and raised in London, Waud studied at the Government School of Design at Somerset House before immigrating to the United States in 1850. Upon his arrival, Waud worked primarily as a freelance artist until May of 1861 when he was retained as a sketch artist and special correspondent by the New York Illustrated Newspaper to report on the war. At the close of 1861, Waud joined Harper's Weekly, where he was employed through the end of the war. He continued to work for Harper's Weekly in addition to a number of other publishers following the war and his career flourished. While touring battlefields in the South in 1891, Waud died in Marietta, GA. The Library of Congress houses most of his original wartime sketches, with some remaining in private hands.
In the 1880s, the popular Century Magazine started publishing the narratives of Civil War veterans and retained a large number of sketch artists including Waud to illustrate the articles. They used interviews, photographs, and prior war-date sketches to produce accurate pictorial representations of the war. These illustrated accounts were incorporated into a large four-volume work entitled Battles and Leaders of the Civil War in 1881. Almost a century later, in 1973, American Heritage Magazine acquired the collection of drawings that had been held by Century Magazine, which were subsequently reproduced in The American Heritage Century Collection of Civil War Art published in 1974. Christie's conducted two public auctions in 1988, which were comprised of the remaining original Century Magazine Collection of Civil War artwork that was dispersed by American Heritage Magazine, and a number of drawings by Waud were acquired by the consignor, with many being offered today.
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