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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.



Battle Above the Clouds
Lookout Mountain, Tennessee November 24, 1863




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.


Paper Signed and Numbered
Image Size: 16" x 25.5” • Overall Size: 20" x 28.5" • Edition Size: 1000 • Issue Price: $200.00
Release Date: 1992 • Availability: Sold out
Paper Artist’s Proof
Image Size: 16" x 25.5” • Overall Size: 20" x 28.5" • Edition Size: 50 • Issue Price: $350.00
Release Date: 1992 • Availability: Sold out



Mort Künstler’s Comments:

General Ulysses S. Grant called the legendary "Battle Above The Clouds" a minor skirmish. But when you realize that Lookout Mountain was the battlefield, and the weather conditions of mist and fog, along with the smoke from the battle were all adding to the low visibility, this is the stuff of which legends are made.

When I heard that no one had painted the battle, I immediately called John Ogden, chief historian for the National Park Service at Chickamauga Chattanooga National Battlefield, to make arrangements for a visit. I was fortunately able to make the trip at the exact same time of the year as the battle.

John was most gracious and explained as much of the battle as he could while we toured virtually every part of Lookout Mountain. My only regret was that I did not have John take a photo of me on "Umbrella Rock" as all the tourists and notables of the 19th century did.

I wanted desperately to show the palisades at the top of the mountain because they are so distinctive and say "Lookout Mountain" immediately to anyone who knows the mountain. But it was impossible to see the palisades from the battle site as there was so much dense woods on the mountainside. But upon questioning John, I was delighted to learn that the mountain had been heavily logged during the mid-eighteen hundreds. Since the Battle took place on November 24, when most of the leaves were gone, it became clear that I could show my "palisades" in the painting.

I then searched for a distinctive boulder that would, of course, have been there one hundred and thirty years ago. After a great deal of tramping up, down and around the mountain, I found what I was looking for just above the Craven House, where some the fiercest fighting took place. The Craven House has been reconstructed and preserved on the original sight by the National Park Service. I could now get the landmark "palisades" and the boulders in one view! I was also happy to learn that there was very dense fog and smoke around the Craven House during the battle. I could then place the fog and smoke in the lower part of the painting.

The last difficult problem to solve was how to have the viewer easily identify the sides, when the men actually had trouble doing so under those conditions. I used the "Stars and Stripes" as the center of interest so that one could immediately see the army in the foreground left was the Confederates. I did this by having all the Confederates looking in that direction with their guns acting as pointers and I added the various branches as visual arrows to lead the eye to the Union flag. The Confederate flag in the background was the Hardee pattern with the white disc in a blue field. This does not say "Confederate" instantly, to many people, and therefore I made the Union flag the focus for that reason. It is always exciting to do a painting of an event that has not been done before. I truly hope the viewer has the feeling he is really there, behind the Confederate lines, looking at the oncoming Union forces, and gets the same kind of excitement out of looking at the picture as I got out of painting it!



 

 
All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2011. 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.