Winslow Homer: Mississippi Delegation


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Winslow Homer Civil War Art:

The Seceding Mississippi Delegation

The illustration at right is another example of Winslow Homer's work as a lithographer.  The task of the lithographer was to translate a photographic image into an image that could be printed in black ink.

The image was the front cover of the February 21, 1861 edition of Harper's Weekly.  The illustration is captioned, "The Seceding Mississippi Delegation in Congress".  It is hard to imagine a more important historical image . . . It is a Harper's Weekly Cover by Winslow Homer, from a photograph by Mathew Brady, with non-other-than Jefferson Davis featured at the top center of the image. Homer's signature can be seen in the lower left of the image if you click for an enlarged view.

Winslow Homer - Seceding Mississippi Delegation and Jeff Davis

February 21, 1861 - The Seceding Mississippi Delegation, Featuring Jefferson Davis (Click on image for an enlarged view)

The faces show Winslow Homer's patience as a lithographer . . . you can see the careful and methodical rhythm of his pen creating the perfect representation of the Brady photograph.  At the same time, you see some of Homer's unmistakable artistic style coming out in the lithograph.  If you look at the lapels of the men in the image, rather than a careful creation of grays, Homer simply "scratches in" the lapels. He appears to avoid cross-hatch patterns in favor of broad parallel lines, with the spacing and thickness of the parallel lines setting the gray tone.  This technique could be considered "crude" by the standards of lithographers of the day, and perhaps show Winslow Homer the Artist trying to escape the role of Winslow Homer the lithographer.  The Homer style of broad parallel lines to create grays led to a very high contrast image that almost shouts at the viewer.  Traditional lithographers of the day would strive for a softer, more photographic like image.

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 The leafs are available for a price of $250 a piece, and the proceeds will go to continue to expand the resources on this site.




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