The art of the post-Civil War period was marked by heaps of patronage from government and private sources, who wanted to increase the sizes of their collections.

Some of the notable artists of the post-Civil war period include James McNeill Whistler, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Thomas Eakins, and Winslow Homer. Whistler, an expatriate, made a delicate art of suggestion in his oils and etchings, approaching the effects of French impressionism. Ryder created works of strong emotional impact. Eakins painted portraits of psychological insight and honesty. Alfred Wode's landscapes were studies on the battlefield of Gettysburg, and Winslow Homer's watercolors were some of the strongest interpretations of pure landscape and seascape ever painted.

Winslow Homer was an American painter who specialized in maritime scenes. Homer was a realist, but he saw more than just objects physically present. He also saw and painted a personal and obtuse phenomenal reality.

This period also saw the further development of the romantic landscape in the works of George Inness, Alexander H. Wyant, Homer D. Martin, and Ralph Blakelock. In Inness, and perhaps even more in William Morris Hunt, the influence of the Barbizon school was brought to America. Although French influence had begun to supplant German, the work of the portrait painters [William M. Chase[ and Frank Duveneck reflected contemporary currents in Munich, as the earlier genre painters had reflected the influence of artists in Düsseldorf. John La Farge's religious murals and stained glass set a new standard for these arts.

John Singer Sargent, working mostly in England, was good at making portraits of society, and Elihu Vedder and Edwin Abbey excelled in illustration. At the end of the century John Twachtman, Childe Hassam, Ernest Lawson, and Mary Cassatt worked under the direct influence of French impressionism. Meanwhile, under the same influence, Maurice Prendergast created original, boldly colorful images of passing urban scenes.

Mary Cassatt was an American painter and printmaker who exhibited with the Impressionists. Grew up in Western Pennsylvania, where she enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of fine arts. She studied the work of other European artists and her style was changed by her association with the Impressionists.

Realistic if somewhat romanticized scenes of life in the American West were painted by several artist-illustrators, the most prominent of whom were Frederick Remington and C. M. Russell.

In sculpture after the Civil War there was an increased demand for commemorative work. Notable sculptors in the tradition include John Quincy Adams Ward and Daniel Chester French. John Rogers made small figures and genre groups that became popular. Later, Remington's small bronzes extended the subject matter of native realism westward to include the cowboy. Neoclassical tendencies were prominent in the work of Olin Warner and Augustus Saint-Gaudens, both of whom studied in Paris.

In poetry, Walt Whitman was an American poet and a son of Long Island. In "Drum Taps", Whitman's reaction to the nation's traumatic Civil War, he speaks of the ultimate pointlessness and futility of war in the poem "Reconciliation": "For my enemy is dead, a man divine as myself is dead".

Matthew Brady was a famous photographer during the Civil War. At the peak of his success as a portrait photographer, Brady turned his attention to the Civil War. Planning to document the war on a grand scale, he organized a corps of photographers to follow the troops in the field. Friends tried to discourage him, citing battlefield dangers and financial risks, but Brady persisted. He later said, "I had to go. A spirit in my feet said 'Go,' and I went."

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