More than 125 drawings by nineteenth-century artist-reporters who observed and recorded images for newspaper publications will be included in this enthralling exhibition at the Old Jail Art Center in Albany, Texas. Images include depictions of the Civil War, the construction of the railroads, the laying of the transatlantic cable in Ireland, the Chinese in the West, the Indian wars, the Chicago fire, and other aspects of American culture during this period.
On loan from the Becker Collection at Boston College in Massachusetts, these drawings are the visual records of Joseph Becker and 20 of his artist-reporter colleagues. They represent insightful views into our country’s dynamic and sometimes troubled past and how we began to understand and depict ourselves via a traditional artistic medium. The drawings can be appreciated for their un-filtered historic documentation of events as well as their intrinsic artistic beauty.
Joseph Becker was hired by Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in 1859 at the age of 18 to be an errand boy. At 22 he was sent to cover the Civil War as an artist-reporter with the Union Army recording events of the war. Becker, as well as numerous other artists, sent back original drawings to the New York editors where they were edited, clarified, simplified, and often idealized or exaggerated to suit the inclination of publishers, sponsors, and public. As supervisor of the paper’s art department, Becker saved the drawings as a true record of the events, complete with details, notations, mood, and evidence of the artist’s own hand.
This exhibition is sponsored by Patti Jones and Jay Hardaway with additional support from Larry and Leta Bell, Nancy Green, Helen K. Groves Fund, and Anonymous.