1866 ROGERS GROUP: TAKING THE OATH AND DRAWING RATIONS

$750.00
Originally $975.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: M26078

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John Rogers (1829-1904) produced a number of monumental sculptures on commission, but is best known for his series of some 85 “Rogers Groups.” Produced from 1859 to 1902 and supplied in plaster casts to an enthusiastic public, they were widely popular and appeared in just about every Victorian American household with any pretense to art or culture. His subjects ranged from ordinary people engaged at mundane tasks to literary, historical and theatrical figures. He produced Civil War subjects right from the beginning, even before the war, with his group entitled “The Slave Auction,” which was exhibited in New York in 1860, and produced subjects such as “One More Shot” while the fighting was still going on.

Usually painted white in imitation of classical marble (at least as the Victorian saw it after they had cleaned off the old paint,) many Rogers groups were given color for display as well. This original plaster group has been recently painted by a local Gettysburg artist to recreate how a Victorian family may have preferred to display it.

Measuring about 23 inches tall and set on an oval base, the group portrays a Union infantry captain deferentially raising his cap to a widowed southern woman who places her hand on a bible to take the oath of allegiance so that she can draw rations to feed herself and her son, who clings to her dress. Produced in 1866, the statue group touched on the contemporary issues of national reconciliation when the war ended. The officer was plainly a combat soldier from the medal on his chest. He raises his cap to the woman in deference and politeness, but also as a salute to her sacrifice and loss since she has appeared alone to take the oath. Her reluctance to take the oath and receive rations even in the straitened circumstances of the postwar south is clear from her turned-away glance, and her reasons for taking it are clear in her gaze downward at her son. Rogers was proud of the statue group and it apparently found favor in households both north and south. Less commented on is the presence of the young black boy leaning on a basket on top of the ration barrel and observing the procedure. Still dressed in rags, he probably wonders whether his own circumstances have changed much.  [sr]

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