Art for Memorial Day

Memorial Day began as a commemoration of those who lost their lives in the American Civil War. Currently in our American Art Gallery, we have a series of paintings by Gilbert Gaul that depict “the courage, sacrifice, suffering, and home life of the Confederate soldier.”

The series reminds us of the losses our nation has endured during times of war, but also how people of all walks of life come together in hard times. As we celebrate Memorial Day this year, may we be reminded of the strength and bravery of those who have fought for our country throughout the years. Come in and see this series in-person, on display in the hallway next to our Albert Bierstadt painting.

This piece reminds us of the heartache and fear a family has as it sends a loved one off to war. Here the father bravely wishes his son well as those near and dear to him gather round. // "Leaving Home" (1907) Gilbert Gaul, oil on canvas. Gift of John Meyer. 1972.463. The arrival of mail played a large part in a soldier's life. Letters from home were critical to boost soldier morale. In this painting, the family gathers to hear what their soldier has to say. Imagine yourself here listening to the words of a loved one writing from the battlefield. // "Tidings from the Front" (1907) Gilbert Gaul, oil on canvas. Gift of John Meyer. 1972.462 This painting captures the intensity and action of war, as the soldiers put their lives on the line for their country. This painting was awarded a Gold Medal by the American Art Association in 1882. // "Holding the Line at all Hazards" (1882) Gilbert Gaul, oil on canvas. Gift of John Meyer. 1971.39. Surrounded by Union soldiers / Their campfires in the distance. / Southern soldiers on the battlefield / Shivering, huddled together. / Dead bodies littering the ground. // "Waiting for Dawn" (1903) Gilbert Gaul, oil on canvas. Gift of John Meyer 1972.464. In this powerful and complex work, a slave comes to the aid of his wounded master. Despite the power difference implied by their roles, Gaul treats the two figures as visual equals.  // "To the End" (1907-09), Gilbert Gaul, oil on canvas. Gift of John Meyer. 1972.459. This painting depicts the homecoming that awaited many Confederate veterans. The loss of their homes, friends, and families left many unsure of how to rebuild their lives. // "Return Home" (1907-09) Gilbert Gaul, oil on canvas. Gift of John Meyer, 1971.38.
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The arrival of mail played a large part in a soldier's life. Letters from home were critical to boost soldier morale. In this painting, the family gathers to hear what their soldier has to say. Imagine yourself here listening to the words of a loved one writing from the battlefield. // "Tidings from the Front" (1907) Gilbert Gaul, oil on canvas. Gift of John Meyer. 1972.462