Battle of Wilson's Creek

Battle of Wilson's Creek

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Description
Capitalizing on the success of Civil War-related artwork during the 1880s and 90s, the Chicago-based printmakers Louis Kurz and Alexander Allison published a series of 36 battle scenes commemorating famous engagements of the war. All displayed idealized, panoramic representations of the battles with statistics of the killed and wounded below each image. Kurz and Allison did not consult photography or Civil War historians when designing their prints, instead relying on Kurz’s own first-hand experience as a soldier during the conflict. They included historical inaccuracies and eschewed aesthetic realism to remain true to earlier, pre-photographic lithographic traditions, which preferred bold graphics, black outlines, and figures performing grand, exaggerated gestures.
This 1893 chromolithograph depicts the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, fought on August 10, 1861, as part of the larger struggle over control of the state of Missouri, which was officially neutral at the start of the war. The Confederacy won the battle, but ultimately failed to establish dominance in Missouri. In the print, General Nathaniel Lyon leads the men of the First Iowa out of a forest to engage the Confederate Army in a clearing. At center, General Lyon’s horse rears as he falls back mortally wound from a gunshot to the heart. Several wounded men lie in the foreground amongst the charging troops.
Louis Kurz was a mural and scene painter before the Civil War, explaining the mural-like format of the images. His illustrations also appear to have been inspired by cycloramas, which were popular at the time, such as Paul Philippoteaux’s Gettysburg Cyclorama. Kurz was an Austrian immigrant who settled in Chicago during the 1850s, where he formed a partnership with Henry Seifert of Milwaukee. He later fought for the Union Army during the Civil War. After the conflict, he co-founded the Chicago Lithographic Company. When the company’s assets were destroyed during the Chicago Fire of 1871, Kurz started a new business with his partner, financial backer, and business manager, Alexander Allison.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
Chromolithograph
Object Type
Chromolithograph
Date made
1893
Associated Name
Lyon, Nathaniel
maker
Kurz & Allison-Art Studio
Kurz & Allison
place made
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Measurements
image: 17 1/2 in x 25 in; 44.45 cm x 63.5 cm
ID Number
DL.60.2626
catalog number
60.2626
accession number
228146
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
subject
Horses
Patriotism and Patriotic Symbols
Civil War
Uniforms, Military
Music
Battle of Wilson's Creek
Civil War
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
American Civil War Prints
Art
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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