VETERAN PAINTED CANTEEN: NATURE HAS THE LAST WORD

$795.00

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Item Code: 1130-01

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This is a nicely decorated Civil War veteran’s canteen. These were often displayed at home in later years as symbols of service, but also rendered ornamental by adding painted service details or various scenes. In this case the soldier or his family, chose to add a bucolic shoreline view of a lake with mountains rising in the distance, providing a nice peaceful contrast to the wartime origin of the canteen itself.

The painting is done on one side of a leather cover sewn in place over a standard wool cover. There are some wartime variants made with leather covers only, and sailors or marines are sometimes thought to have added them, which might have been done an existing cover. Whether wartime or added later, it was carefully done. All three brackets were removed and a leather shoulder strap, only part of which remains, was sewn in at the shoulders. The stopper was also retained with a small leather thong, indicating the rig was intended to be functional. The painting was done on one side with a circular border following the contour of the canteen and giving it a definite lens-like effect, looking down through a gap in the trees and over the lake with the added detail of some trees changing color, a little nod to the passing of time.

There is paint loss and crackling to the surface. A small piece of leather is gone just below the spout at left and there is a short tear. But, the majority of the scene remains intact. The leather on the reverse is plain and shows similar age cracks from shrinkage, which has also opened up the seam around the circumference. Nevertheless, this has a nice untouched look and might be stabilized. Like nature scene itself, the leather cover might have been intended as a bit of handcrafting to modify something produced in mass by a wartime industry. It’s a telling memento. [sr] [ph:L]

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