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Shadows of History: Photographs of the Civil War from the Collection of Julia J. Norrell

October 11, 2014 - January 18, 2015

Alexander Gardner, Father Scully Preaching to the 9th Mass. Reg., 1861. Albumen silver print, 10 1/2 x 14 5/8 inches. Collection of Julia J. Norrell. IL2013.19.33
The American Civil War (1861-1865) was this country’s deadliest war.  More than 620,000 people died from combat, accident, starvation, and disease.  The total casualties from the Civil War are nearly equal to all other American wars combined.  The Civil War was also the first conflict to be extensively documented by photography.  The public had never before seen such powerful images of human devastation and the destructive impact of war.  Inspired by the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art presents this focused collection developed in recent years by Washington D.C. collector Julia "Judy" Norrell.  The photographs included capture a wide range of subjects, from geographical views, landscapes, and portraits of soldiers and officers at rest, to the death and destruction in the aftermath of battles.  Early tintypes, ambrotypes, albumin silver prints, and salt prints by photographers George Barnard, Isaac H. Bonsall, Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, James F. Gibson, Timothy H. O’Sullivan, Andrew J. Russell, David B. Woodbury, and others are included in the forty-three works that comprise the exhibition.

A special part of the collection is rare imagery of African Americans which calls attention to their underappreciated role in the Civil War.  To highlight the role of African Americans in the War, a major installation piece by internationally-recognized contemporary artist Whitfield Lovell is included, which features a life-size portrait of an African American soldier.  In an adjacent gallery is a related presentation of a series of portraits of Abraham Lincoln by renowned Iowa City artist Mauricio Lasansky.  These portraits have been held in reserve specifically for this Civil War themed exhibition.

Shadows of History was first exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., before traveling to the Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, Louisiana.  The exhibition was organized for travel by the Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia.  Local support for the exhibition and its extensive programming has been provided by UFG, the McIntyre Foundation, Dee Ann McIntyre, the Diamond V Mills Corporate Fund,* and the Altorfer Machinery Company Non-Endowed Corporate Donor-Advised Fund.* 

*Funds of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.


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