Friday, January 28, 2011

The Peace in Union Painting by Thomas Nast-- Part 1

I first wrote about this in yesterday's blog entry. I'd never heard of this painting being in Galena, Illinois, but was well aware of it. It has probably appeared in thousands of school textbooks and shows the events taking place April 9, 1865, at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered his army to US Grant, effectively ending the Civil War (even though there would be more actions).

This information is from the Galena Historical Museum site.

The picture is a 9' by 12' oil painting, one of only a few to be painted of the event. I don't think there were even photos taken.

Thomas Nast was the nation's premier political cartoonists of the 19th century and is also famous for portraying the Republican Party as an elephant and Democratic Party as a donkey. Of course, the fat jovial Santa Claus we now have was also a Nast creation.

The Peace in Union painting came about as a result of a chance meeting between Nast and Herman Kohnsaat in London in 1894. Kohlsaat had grown up in Galena and was a big US Grant fan. As a teen germ he moved to Chicago and made a fortune in the catering, wholesale bakery and budget lunchroom business. He then got involved in the newspaper publishing business.

He always wanted to give something back to his boyhood home of Galena, and in 1891 commissioned a bronze statue of Grant that he wanted to be placed in a prominent place. This led to the creation of Grant Park.

More to Come. --Old B-R'er

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