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Study for 'The Wounded Drummer Boy'

Eastman Johnson

American Art

Eastman Johnson drew his inspiration for this Civil War picture from an incident that reportedly occurred during the Battle of Antietam (1862) in which an injured drummer boy asked a comrade to carry him so that he could continue drumming his unit forward. The emblematic image of a heroic youth literally rising above the chaos of the battlefield resonated deeply with Northern audiences both during and after the war. Johnson’s initial drawing of the subject was exhibited in 1864 to foster support for the army, and the finished painting of 1871—for which this work is a preparatory study—helped to commemorate the hope and sacrifice of the Union effort. In this study, the loose brushwork, bright highlights, and lack of detail powerfully evoke the experience of battle—the steady drum beat, the smoke-filled air, and the drama of life and death.
MEDIUM Oil on laminated paperboard
DATES ca. 1864–1870
DIMENSIONS 21 1/2 × 16 3/4 in. (54.6 × 42.5 cm) frame: 27 1/2 × 22 3/4 × 2 3/4 in. (69.9 × 57.8 × 7 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed lower right: "E. J."
CREDIT LINE Dick S. Ramsay Fund
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Eastman Johnson (American, 1824–1906). Study for 'The Wounded Drummer Boy', ca. 1864–1870. Oil on laminated paperboard, 21 1/2 × 16 3/4 in. (54.6 × 42.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 59.9 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 59.9_SL3.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 59.9_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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