Reconstructing a Family: John Rogersnulls Taking the Oath and Drawing Rations
SubjectRogers Groups; John Rogers; Taking the Oath; Civil War; Reconstruction; family; mass-reproduced art; middle-class art; popular art; sculpture; cast plaster
This article analyzes the Civil War sculptures of John Rogers, particularly Taking the Oath and Drawing Rations (1865), his most critically acclaimed work and his personal favorite. In Taking the Oath, Rogers proposed a compassionate, conciliatory attitude toward the contentious issue of Reconstruction by invoking the model of a sentimentalized family. This work was one of about eighty "Rogers groups," mass-reproduced cast-plaster sculptures that became a common expression of middle-class taste and values. Taking the Oath offered a prescription for healing the wounds of the Civil War while leaving traditional social hierarchies reassuringly intact.
Postprint (20 p.) This is a postprint (.pdf) of an article published in the journal Winterthur Portfolio. © 2004 by The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc.
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