The Civil War: Through the Eyes of German-American Caricaturists

The American Civil War Seen through the Eyes of German-American Caricaturists Thomas Nast and Adalbert Volck Exhibit.

The German-American Heritage Center & Museum is proud to display this new traveling exhibit from the German-American Heritage Center of the USA in Washington D.C. The exhibit will be open from Sept. 24 – Feb. 4 and is included with regular admission:

As the largest ethnic contingent to fight for the Union in the Civil War, German-Americans played a critical role in its outcome. Lesser known but also important is the work of two German-American caricaturists who not only influenced public opinion, but also how the conflict has come to be viewed and mythologized. The Civil War Seen Through the Eyes of German-American Caricaturists features the work of Thomas Nast, illustrator for Harper’s Weekly, and Adalbert Volck, Southern sympathizer, caricaturist and spy for the Confederacy.
Comparing and contrasting the work of these two artists, the exhibit explores the historical context of their work and sheds light on the issues and controversies that led to the deadliest conflict in our nation’s history. In addition, this exhibit focused on the act of putting President Abraham Lincoln in the crosshairs of political cartoons as well as view the caricatures in the context of the media during the Civil War.
Nowadays, Thomas Nast is famous for creating symbols like the Republican Elephant and the Democratic Donkey. More than that though, his uncountable Civil War drawings, published mainly in the popular newspapers of his time Harper’s Weekly, depict a wide range of aspects of life during the war. They furthermore commented on political events and had a notable impact on public opinion. The exhibit highlighted the exceptional career and the variety of this draftsman’s work, and point out how he fiercely supported President Lincoln and the cause of the Union.
In contrast to Thomas Nast, there is the less famous but still principal German dentist and artist Adalbert Volck who settled down in Richmond, Virginia and favored Southern secession. In this exhibit, his impressive drawings are compared to Nast’s work showing their reception of battle scenes, slavery, President Lincoln and much more. Being known as a smuggler and spy for the Confederacy, the exhibit also follows the remarkable story of Volck’s life.