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G. Harvey (1933–2017)
The Hope of the Confederacy ()
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36 x 48 in

During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s G. Harvey painted approximately a dozen major civil war pieces. Four of these, including The Hope of the Confederacy, were unveiled and exhibited at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., on October 3, 1991. Upon learning that a crucial collection of Civil War records housed at the National Archives needed funding, Harvey created this series of works and donated the proceeds of the print sales back to the National Archives for the preservation and restoration of those endangered Civil War documents.

While researching this Civil War series, Harvey had access to rare Civil War image and document collections. He drew invaluable source material from the photographs of Matthew Brady, Timothy O’Sullivan and others, but it proved to be the personal correspondence of the Generals and soldiers that truly inspired him. With his own ancestors embattled in the conflict, Harvey treated the subject from a pensive and sentimental position—rather than glorifying the climactic or violent moments of battle. As Harvey himself said, “Even when I did a series about the Civil War, I was more interested in depicting the quiet moments, the thoughtful moments, the times when a soldier pauses to think about home.”

The Hope of the Confederacy holds true to this more thoughtful pattern. As General Robert E. Lee rides directly out at the viewer, flanked by his men, the title reminds us of the burden placed upon his shoulders. The hopes of his soldiers, their families, and the nation they wish to become all ride with Lee. Alone in the wilderness, the figures speak for themselves; stripped of the banners and festivities of triumph or the chaos and horror of battle—simply men, the heart and soul of the war.