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Major exhibit of little-known war artists

Joseph Becker and his colleagues were war artists who played the role of the modern day photographer. At a time when camera and film were not adequate to capture the action of battles, artists drew the pictures that would eventually become engravings published in newspapers and magazines.

Ninety pieces of the art, as originally drawn and before an editor made changes, will be on exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond beginning Jan. 15 and closing on April 3. The collection of more than 650 original drawings is named for Becker who took his work and that of 13 others with him when he left his job as art department manager of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper where he worked for 25 years after the war ended.

The artists did more than capture the fury of battle. There are also images of soldiers at rest, washing their clothes, celebrating Thanksgiving, butchering cattle and setting up camp. Artist Henri Lovie drew a series of pictures of what he and his colleagues suffered while on the job, including a self-portrait showing him wading though chest-high snow.

The exhibition originated at the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College where a digital archive of the collection can be found.

By Linda Wheeler  | October 26, 2010; 12:50 PM ET
Categories:  Exhibits, News  
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