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Memorial Military Murals

Hoffbauer muralPlease note that most of our gallery space will be CLOSED starting January 6, 2014 for major renovations. 

French mural artist Charles Hoffbauer was commissioned by the Confederate Memorial Association in 1914 to paint a series of Civil War murals, known as the Memorial Military Murals, for the newly constructed Battle Abbey. With the outbreak of World War I, Hoffbauer interrupted his labors and returned to his native France, leaving his project half completed. He came back after the war only to obliterate his earlier work, explaining that his front-line experiences had radically changed his view of war. Hoffbauer altered his plans for the murals to depict the more violent, bloody reality of war. The murals were unveiled in January 1921. Today, his work stands untouched. The murals follow the changing seasons and include the Spring Mural, the Summer Mural, the Autumn Mural, and the Winter Mural.

French artist Charles Hoffbauer, who later worked for Walt Disney Studios in animation, left hundreds of pastel, watercolor, oil, and pencil sketches on paper and canvas, as well as photographs and clay models, he used to create his famous murals, The Four Seasons of the Confederacy.

These murals are an example of how former Confederates, in the wake of their defeat in the American Civil War, created a mythology to overcome the pain and destruction of the country's bloodiest conflict. The murals are a preeminent visual artistic symbol of what has come to be known as the "Lost Cause." With the exception of the cycloramas at Gettysburg and at Grant Park in Atlanta, there are few large-scale pieces of Civil War artwork on public view.

Important cleaning and conservation work is currently underway on these murals. Hoffbauer's murals were painted directly onto canvas that had been glued to plaster walls. In numerous areas, the paint is not only flaking but also the canvas is detaching from the wall. Dirt, dust, and exhaust fumes from the heating system in place 100 years ago have had almost a century to obscure once bright colors.

Learn more about the conservation of these murals and how you can help save them.

Spring mural Enter Fullscreen More information
The Spring Mural
The Spring Mural depicts Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson watching his troops as they march along a road in the Shenandoah Valley.
Summer mural Enter Fullscreen More information
The Summer Mural
The Summer Mural portrays a fictitious gathering of Confederate commanders with Gen. Robert E. Lee in the mots prominent position.
Autumn mural Enter Fullscreen More information
The Autumn Mural
The Autumn Mural shows Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart leading his cavalrymen on a gallant charge.
Winter mural Enter Fullscreen More information
The Winter Mural
The Winter Mural depicts an artillery battery as it struggles to move through the snow with its equipment shattered and its men on the verge of exhaustion.
Hampton Roads Enter Fullscreen More information
Hampton Roads
This panel shows the inronclad CSS Virginia firing at Union ships in the March 1862 naval battle of Hampton Roads.
Hospital Train Enter Fullscreen More information
Hospital Train
This panel illustrates the home front of the war. Shown at this train station are women and and a slave as they tend to Confederate wounded who have arrived from a distant battle.
Coast Artillery Enter Fullscreen More information
Coast Artillery
This panel shows Confederate coastal artillery in action against enemy ships.
Spring mural
The Spring Mural
Summer mural
The Summer Mural
Autumn mural
The Autumn Mural
Winter mural
The Winter Mural
Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads
Hospital Train
Hospital Train
Coast Artillery
Coast Artillery

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