Study for 'The Wounded Drummer Boy'
Eastman Johnson drew his inspiration for this Civil War picture from an incident that reportedly occurred during the Battle of Antietam (1862) in which an injured drummer boy asked a comrade to carry him so that he could continue drumming his unit forward. The emblematic image of a heroic youth literally rising above the chaos of the battlefield resonated deeply with Northern audiences both during and after the war. Johnson’s initial drawing of the subject was exhibited in 1864 to foster support for the army, and the finished painting of 1871—for which this work is a preparatory study—helped to commemorate the hope and sacrifice of the Union effort. In this study, the loose brushwork, bright highlights, and lack of detail powerfully evoke the experience of battle—the steady drum beat, the smoke-filled air, and the drama of life and death.
- Artist: Eastman Johnson, American, 1824-1906
- Medium: Oil on laminated paperboard
- Dates: ca. 1864-1870
- Dimensions: 21 1/2 x 16 3/4 in. (54.6 x 42.5 cm)
- Signature: Signed lower right: "E. J."
- Collections:American Art
- Museum Location: This item is on view in American Identities: A New Look, Everyday Life/A Nation Divided, 5th Floor
- Accession Number: 59.9
- Credit Line: Dick S. Ramsay Fund
- Rights Statement: No known copyright restrictions
- Caption: Eastman Johnson (American, 1824-1906). Study for 'The Wounded Drummer Boy', ca. 1864-1870. Oil on laminated paperboard, 21 1/2 x 16 3/4 in. (54.6 x 42.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 59.9
- Record Completeness: Best (87%)