American artist Winslow Homer (1836-1910) — the self-taught master best known today for his scenes of nature and the sea — got his start as one of the “special artists” of the Civil War. They were the combat correspondents of their day, traveling and living with soldiers. Their sketches, woodcuts, and paintings showed both the horror of battle and the makeshift respite of camp life. Printed by the thousands, these images gave the American public a visual sense of the war. Homer grew up in what was then rural Cambridge, and by 1859 had a studio on 10th Street in New York. In March 1861 he was hired by Harper’s Weekly to illustrate Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address — and then stayed on with the magazine when the Civil War began a month later. Off and on, Homer spent the next four years documenting the conflict. (For a time he was...
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