This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a momentous time in American history that, in the past year-and-a-half, has been the focus of several commemorative exhibitions displayed throughout the country. With its current exhibition, “This Mighty Scourge of War”: Art of the American Civil War, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art adds itself to the list of museums that have held American art exhibitions in remembrance of a pivotal era that profoundly affected the shaping of our national identity. Featuring twenty-five paintings, prints, photographs and drawings, This Mighty Scourge of War will allow audiences to experience the turmoil and emotions of a war-torn nation through the works of Winslow Homer and Hudson River School artists Sanford Robinson Gifford, Martin Johnson Heade, and Jervis McEntee.
Visitors will be interested to know that This Mighty Scourge of War—titled after Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address—has an important connection to not only the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War, but also to Bowdoin College. When the Battle of Gettysburg was won in 1863, one of the Union heroes was Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, an 1852 graduate of Bowdoin that later became the school’s president in 1871. For Bowdoin students and alumnae, the inclusion of Chamberlain’s portrait in this exhibition is a powerful and proud display of the school’s connection to the Civil War. On view through January 5, 2014, This Mighty Scourge of War showcases the broad scope of work produced by artistic realists like Homer, and also that of painters who served in war as Union soldiers, such as Gifford and McEntee. A visit to Bowdoin College Museum of Art offers a unique opportunity to take in important examples of Civil War-era art by some of the biggest names in American painting—this exhibition is a must-see for history-buffs and art-lovers alike!