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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Worth a Thousand Words: Our Banner in the Sky

This is Our Banner in the Sky by American artist Frederic Edwin Church. A resident of New York, he painted this in 1861 in response to the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, which officially launched the American Civil War. The beleaguered Union flag at Fort Sumter was rescued and brought to New York by the fort's commander, Major Robert Anderson. It was put on public display and became the focal point of a huge rally in Union Square, and is believed to be the flag that inspired this painting. Church, a popular landscape artist, used the medium of nature to create this beautiful and moving rendition of American symbolism and sentiment.

By May of 1861 this painting had caught the attention of and was being lauded by the press, and by June a gallery was producing lithographs of the painting to raise money for the Union Patriotic Fund. One hundred and fifty years later, this painting is still considered a fine example of artistic commentary and patriotism, and still has the power to move the heart and speak to the soul.