Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Museum of the Confederacy Debuts Online Chapman Collection

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 20, 2011

The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond has debuted an online exhibition of 31 paintings by Conrad Wise Chapman, the famous Confederate soldier artist, depicting scenes around Charleston during the war. A handful of Chapman’s paintings are well-known to Civil War historians and buffs alike, such as his famous portrait of the submersible H. L. Hunley,but most in the collection are much less known. Best of all, the exhibit uses Zoomify, an online tool that lets the viewer zoom right into painting to see the finest detail. While nothing beats seeing an original work in person, it’s probably also true that this tool lets the viewer examine works more closely, and at their leisure, than would ever be possible in a museum gallery.

A number of Chapman’s works depict the fortifications and batteries around Charleston, including Sumter, Moultrie and Morris Island. They’re not battle scenes, but depict those places in their day-to-day form, with soldiers drilling, chatting with civilians, or laborers working to build or repair the fortifications. These are especially intriguing to me, given that they suggest the likely appearance of some of the Confederate batteries here, of which I don’t think there are any contemporary depictions.

Congratulations to the Museum of the Confederacy and its sponsors — including the SCV’s Chester Station Camp No. 1503 — for their foresight and effort in bringing these works to a wider audience. Well done.
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Image: Detail of “Fort Moultrie Interior,” by Conrad Wise Chapman. A mounted officer supervises soldiers working at the entrance to a bombproof. Museum of the Confederacy.

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2 Responses

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    • Andy Hall said, on July 20, 2011 at 9:46 pm

      Thanks. I mean, I guess “thanks.” That’s a bad situation, but defiantly ignoring it, as the museum organizers seem to be doing, isn’t going to make it go away.


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