Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Alfred Waud


This would have actually made a good mystery person contest. The man pictured is Alfred Waud. He was a war illustrator for Harper's Weekly during the Civil War. Illustrators like Waud, Nast, and Homer were deployed to battle locations, and they would sketch the battles. The sketches were then sent back to New York to be printed in the Harper's Weekly newspaper. The sketches were printed by carving them onto wood blocks. Since time is of the essence in the news business, the problem is that it would take a long time for a single person to carve a sketch onto a large block of wood. So, the block of wood and the sketch were cut into two inch squares, and a different carver would carve each of the two inch segments of the drawing onto a separate small block of wood. This way, many people were working in parallel on the carving. Then the two inch blocks were screwed together, and you had one large block which could be used to "stamp" the image into the newspaper. 

Waud was at the battle of Gettysburg, and below we present one of his drawings which appeared in Harper's Weekly using the process described above.


7 comments:

  1. Thanks for including the sketch, PJM. It connects the man with his art & sure beats having to go look it up. That cut block process is quite interesting.

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  2. I agree with Judi, The info on how the wood blocks are prepared is more than interesting

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  3. I agree as well. The art makes the picture more meaningful.
    Maybe I've worked in New York City for too long but today's subject looks like a 47th Street diamond merchant.

    John

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  4. Fascinating ! It was a lot of work getting things ready for the presses . It's no wonder it was a 'weekly'.

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  5. Nice touch adding the sketch. Makes you wonder how close Mr. Waud was to the fighting. If he was as close as the sketch suggests he wouldn't be long for this world. Maybe he is at a distance watching through a scope. I assume the 2 soldiers running toward the left in the bottom left of the sketch are confederate soldiers. First to hit the Union line?

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  6. Ever notice how the people in old photos often wear very warm clothing, not just the outerwear? Wool that thick is hard to find nowadays. Central heating is a wonder.

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  7. This art piece certainly depicts the story in its own way. Lovely as it is back in those time.

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