An Artist’s Story: Civil War Drawings by Edwin Forbes
Like thousands of young men, twenty-three-year-old John Edwin Forbes went to war in 1862—but he did not shoulder a rifle or carry a saber. The classically trained Forbes joined a group of artists and reporters, known collectively as the Bohemian Brigade, sent south by northern newspapers to feed a home front population hungry for information about the war and the men engaged in it.
For two and a half years Forbes documented the Union and Confederate armies—in camp, on the march, and in battle. Forbes and his colleagues did much to shape public perceptions—then and now—of the Civil War.
An Artist’s Story: Civil War Drawings by Edwin Forbes features forty-five original pen-and-ink drawings based on his wartime sketches and used to illustrate his memoir, Thirty Years After: An Artist’s Story of the Great War (1890). In the exhibition, Forbes’s own descriptions accompany each illustration.
An Artist’s Story: Civil War Drawings by Edwin Forbesis a traveling exhibition organized by the VHS to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War.
The images featured in this traveling exhibition are part of a collection of 156 drawings donated to the Virginia Historical Society in 2008 by the William R. Berkley family. The collection was first publically displayed at the VHS in 2012.
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In 1862, twenty-three-year-old Edwin Forbes joined a corps of artists sent to Virginia to capture scenes of the war that would illustrate the pages of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. Forbes and his colleagues did much to shape public perceptions—then and now—of the American Civil War. "An Artist's Story: Civil War Drawings by Edwin Forbes" features more than 120 original pen-and-ink drawings that Forbes produced from wartime sketches to illustrate his book, "Thirty Years After: An Artist’s Story of the Great War."