Art at Lunch | Withdrawing the Veil: Intermedial Impulses in Peter Frederick Rothermel's Battle of Gettysburg



Peter F. Rothermel's (1817 – 1895) Battle of Gettysburg: Pickett's Charge,1870.


On the evening of December 20, 1870, the Academy of Music in Philadelphia unveiled a massive canvas - The Battle of Gettysburg: Pickett’s Charge by Peter Frederick Rothermel. While initially extolled by critics for its rigorous fidelity to the historical event, the painting, following its installation in the 1876 Centennial Exposition, was ultimately condemned for this very feature. Ramey Mize, Phd. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, explores  the ways in which the Civil War’s visual culture revealed death in unprecedented, graphic detail and how photography and illustrated journalism consequently put pressure on history painting to do the same, but with less acceptable results. Using Rothermel as a case study, Mize will interpret the reasons for which its realism, largely achieved through an unambiguous portrayal of war’s grisly surfeit, might have later been perceived as excessive rather than authentic.