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The Art of Mort Künstler / The American Spirit / The Civil War

Here you will find a pictorial chronicle of the drama and excitement of American History. These paintings give the viewer an insight into the tumultuous life of this young nation that mere words cannot achieve.



Sunrise Service - limited edition print


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Paper Signed & Numbered - $225.00

Paper Artist's Proof - $350.00

Canvas Signed & Numbered - $710.00

Canvas Artist's Proof - $890.00



 


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Custom framing is available for this print. Please call 800-850-1776 or email info@mortkunstler.com for more information.


LIMITED EDITION PRINTS
Paper Prints
Reproduction technique: Fine offset lithography on neutral pH archival quality paper using the finest fade-resistant inks.
Each print is numbered and signed by the artist and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.


Image Size: 19” x 28” • Overall Size: 24” x 32”
Signed & Numbered • Edition Size: 750
Signed Artist’s Proof • Edition Size: 100

Giclée Canvas Prints
Reproduction Technique: Giclées are printed with the finest archival pigmented inks on canvas. Each print is numbered and signed by the artist and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.

Classic Edition 22" x 32"
Signed & Numbered • Edition Size: 100
Signed Artist's Proof • Edition Size: 10



Historical Information

Despite a hefty measure of scoundrels, shirkers and skeptics, the ranks of the Civil War soldier were thoroughly leavened with believers. Nineteenth century American society was firmly founded on the Judeo-Christian world-view and a Biblical faith was openly expressed in the ranks – even in official military reports. Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote, whose river-borne naval forces helped open the Southern heartland to Federal advances, was a faithful Christian who conducted worship services for his sailors aboard ship. General Stonewall Jackson personally distributed salvation tracts to his soldiers. General Oliver O. Howard, a Federal corps commander, earnestly discouraged gambling and drunkenness among his troops, and his concern for freed slaves led to the establishment of Howard University. General Robert E. Lee personally insured that Jewish troops in his command were excused for Sabbath worship, and issued orders calling for periods of prayer and fasting in his army. Said Lee: “I am nothing but a poor sinner, trusting in Christ alone for salvation.”

“I derive great comfort from the precious promises of Our Lord & Savior,” wrote a Southern infantryman in 1862 – sentiments repeated in countless soldier letters. “May God give me faith to sustain me under every trial….” In a typical letter written the same year, a Northern cavalryman agreed: “I am trying to become a more devoted Christian, a better Man – and the best Soldier I am capable of becoming.” More than a quarter-million copies of a Gospel tract called Parting Words were distributed through the Southern armies, and the U.S. Christian Commission donated more than a half-million Bibles to Northern troops during a single year of the war. In 1862 and 1863, the Southern armies were transformed by a revival akin to the Colonial-era Great Awakening. It produced tens of thousands of new Christians, spurred a wave of campground worship services, and launched countless prayer meetings. In the Confederate Army of Tennessee, an average of 40 soldiers a night professed newfound faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in a single two-week period. On the Virginia front, a joint baptism organized by Southern soldiers on the Rapidan River attracted a group of Northern troops to the opposite bank. Spontaneously, men from both sides joined in a hymn-singing at water’s edge. From the front lines to the backwaters of the war, soldiers North and South regularly paused from the ways of war to open the Lord’s Day with a sunrise worship service – expressing a common faith amidst an uncommon conflict.


Mort Kunstler’s Comments:

What a remarkable people they were – that generation of Americans who faced the Civil War. The more I study and paint events from that difficult era, the more I ask myself – “How did they bear it?” And, of course, the answer for so many was their faith. You can’t study the soldiers of the Civil War and their families without being impressed by the depth and dedication of their devotion. It really was the heart of that generation. For many years, as I routinely considered subjects for our annual “Snow Print,” my good friend Rod Gragg – Civil War historian and author – continued to suggest that I paint a morning worship service. I admit that I feared it would be a boring picture, and dismissed the idea for years. Then I discussed the idea with another good friend – Civil War historian James I. Robertson, Jr. – author of Stonewall Jackson – who supplied me with extensive information on Civil War camp life and worship services. I realized that both my historian friends were right. The potential for a great picture awaited me.

The Southern countryside draped by a mantle of snow is, of course, a spectacular setting for any painting – and numerous snowy Sundays are on record during the war. Add to that the gorgeous tones of a winter sunrise – and a memorable stage is set for the painting. I also learned about the very moving personal elements of 19th century outdoor worship services in America – the different characters and poses that would have been seen at such an event. As I made preliminary sketches of the scene, I was able to include many of these elements – such as the typical praying poses of the “hat over heart” and the “crossed arms.”

My annual snow scenes usually take place in the evening, so it was a nice change to paint an early morning sunrise. The focal point of the painting is the Southern chaplain, and I painted his dark figure against the lightest background. This design element, using the biggest contrast, brings the eye of the viewer right to the chaplain – and immediately tells the story I want to convey. Another design element, using tree branches as pointers, brings the eye to the focal point as well. For color accents, I have shown the South’s First National flag and the Southern battle flag – both of which came in use in General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in the winter of 1861-62. During winter camp, some of the officers were visited by their wives, and this gave me the opportunity to include some women and an infant.

What has emerged here in Sunrise Service is a wonderful, meaningful painting. It’s an artwork that truly expresses the heart of that exceptional generation of 19th century Americans – both Southern and Northern – and I think it’s also one of the most attractive pictures that I’ve ever had the opportunity to paint. Thank you, Rod and “Bud.” Without your suggestions and input, Sunrise Service would not have come to be – and I’m so glad to have painted it.





 

 
All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2018. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.