Description: This living room scene, which takes place in a house with fireplace located in a wooded setting, shows a young man in gray Confederate uniform clasping the hands of a gray-haired man, while two young women stand behind a seated weeping woman. An African American man and woman stand witnessing the scene, as do two dogs and a cat, while a young African American man stands in the doorway holding a horse by the reins.
Historical Note: Artist Gilbert Gaul, who is known to have been teaching in Nashville about the time this was painted, may have based this scene on people and places that he knew from the area near his inherited farm in Van Buren County, Tennessee. Gaul, too young to have served in the Civil War, created popular genre scenes and battle images long after the war, many of which were published as color lithographs. Here, Gaul idealizes the moment of a son leaving to serve in the Confederacy. All family figures and servants look on at the departure. In the background a Revolutionary War portrait and gun suggest that a relative, possibly a grandfather, had served with honor in the war for American independence.
Contributing Institution: Birmingham Museum of Art
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Digital Publisher: Digital Initiatives, James E. Walker Library, Middle Tennessee State University