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."