Saturday, February 9, 2013

Old '76 and Young '48

A few posts ago I shared Richard Caton Woodville's News from Mexico. Above is Woodville's Old '76 and Young '48, which depicts a scene from the same era, albeit in a more intimate atmosphere.

Woodville chose a setting that is likely in a Southern household parlor. "Young '48" tells about his adventures in the war and seemingly motions toward the Revolutionary War portrait on the wall with the right arm while his left arm is in a sling, presumably a wound from the Mexican War. The soldier's military cap, gauntlets and sword are on the carpeted floor behind him. "Old '76", probably Young '48's grandfather, listens to the young man tell his tale and appears to be lost in thought, possibly remembering his combat experiences in the Revolutionary War.  Behind the old man and up high is bust of George Washington and above the fireplace mantle is a portrait of John Trumbull's Signing of the Declaration of Independence.

All of the individuals - possibly Young 48's mother, father, and sister - appear to be concentrating on the young man's words, which seem to be serious. At the door appears to be a group of house slaves intent on hearing what is being told, too.  The family dog, in the foreground, appears to be as attentive as the depicted humans.

Woodville's short life appears to be - like the war that was the basis of these paintings - a tragedy. Born in 1825 to a prominent Baltimore, Maryland family, he died in London at age 30 from a morphine overdose.

No comments:

Post a Comment