The lot of the Civil War sketch artist

Published: October 2009

Joseph Becker began working for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in New York City as an errand boy shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1863, the paper sent him to follow the Union Army as a sketch artist. His assignment, and that of dozens of artists like him, was to supply Leslie’s with scenes of military life and warfare that could be reproduced by engravers for the paper’s hundreds of thousands of readers. However, what the artist in the field dispatched and what the paper printed were not always the same, as this interactive slideshow demonstrates.

Becker went on to manage the Leslie’s art department from 1875 to 1900. He saved some 650 original sketches by artists sent in from the field on subjects as diverse as America at the time. The exhibition First Hand: Civil War–era Drawings from the Becker Collection continues through December 13, 2009, at the University’s McMullen Museum. Read more about Civil War–era sketch artists in Boston College Magazine’s Summer 2009 issue.

Flash 10+ required to view interactive feature.

This feature was posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 and is filed under Interactive Features.
Executive Producer: Ravi Jain, Producer: Miles Benson