This is an absolutely incredible illustration.
Overall, it shows different people in different situations receiving
news of the war. Of perhaps most importance, the lower left image
is captioned, "Our Special Artist". As most of you know by now,
that was the descriptor often used by Harper's Weekly to describe
Winslow Homer. The fascinating thing, therefore, its that the
gentleman with the beard sitting on the barrel, sketching the soldiers
would be none-other-than Winslow Homer himself! This image would
represent, therefore, a Winslow Homer self portrait! I am aware of
no other images that Homer did of himself. The image, if taken
literally, would indicate that Homer wore a beard during the Civil War.
I am not aware of any photograph of Homer with a beard.
The upper left image shows a Navy Sailor on the deck of
the ship. It appears that it is mail day on board the ship. One
sailor has received a letter from home, while another, rather sad I might
add, sailor appears to have no letter.
The top center illustration is one of a beautiful
woman, alone at home, with a letter in her hand. She is weeping
bitterly. Apparently the letter has brought terrible news . .
. perhaps the worst . . . and she is grieving over the news.
The upper right image shows women talking to injured
soldiers home from the war. One had had a leg amputated, and another
has his arm in a sling. No doubt the women are seeking news of the
war directly from these soldiers.
In the lower right we see soldiers running up to a
train, which is delivering newspapers. The train apparently is
throwing bundles of newspapers to the soldiers. One hapless soldier
apparently has been conked in the head and knocked over by a bundle of
newspapers. The soldiers are eagerly running to get copies of
various newspapers. One of the papers being read by two soldiers
clearly is a copy of Harper's Weekly!
This is a fascinating illustration, and one that you
can spend hours pouring over.
A Note to our Readers
We acquired the images above for the
purpose of digitally persevering them on this site for all to enjoy.
With the digital archive complete, we are making the original, 140 year
old illustrations available for purchase. By selling these
original illustrations, we are able to acquire more material to archive
on this site. If you are interested in purchasing one of the
original Harper's Weekly leafs on this page, contact
leafs are available for a price of $250 a piece, and the proceeds will go to continue to expand the
resources on this site.