Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cats in Art: 15th Massachusetts Monument at Antietam

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I am using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi. In this case I am departing widely from the book and using some real-life stuff from near my home.

The bride and I were traveling on MD Route 65 past nearby Antietam National Battlefield the other day, and we passed this monument.  Unfortunately, we were on a schedule and could not pause to take photos.

But...part of the Google Machine is Google Images, where it was but a few seconds' work to obtain some photos of this monument and to identify it as belonging to the 15th Massachusetts Infantry:

Image credit The History Tourist, here.  

The 15th MA got pretty much wrecked in the battle; the site lists casualty information for the regiment as follows (I did not independently corroborate these data):

The 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry had the highest casualty rate of any Union regiment.  Of the 606 men in the regiment, 75 were killed and 255 wounded.  Another 43 later died of their wounds.   Dedicated in 1900, their granite monument is of a wounded lion and it stands where they were positioned the morning of the battle, where most of their casualties happened.  The monument is inscribed with the names those who were killed, and in the foundation is a roster of the entire regiment.

And from another site, a close-up image of the front of the lion:

Image credit John Banks, here

The lion is referred to as a "wounded lion"; I can't verify that, but want to observe that to me the first image seems to project defiance more than anything, while the second image emphasizes fierceness.  I obviously don't know the sculptor's intent without a bunch more research, but those are the immediate reactions I have to the lion from two different perspectives.

I really need to stand there in person and see how the sculpture affects me then.  As with any art, being there is waaaay different from viewing 2-dimensional images in a book or on a screen.

This was particular brought home to me the very first time I ever saw a van Gogh painting in person.  It was a seaside painting, and Vincent really slopped on the paint: it was literally 1/4" deep, an effect that you can never get from a photo of it.  Absolutely amazing!

Which brings me to one final point on art and art appreciation.  Diana, a representative of the web site Artsy, recently contacted me about adding a link to their page here on Mister Tristan (the blog, not the 7-year-old human being).  I have checked out Artsy and see that it is a valuable resource for anyone wanting to dig deeper into a particular art-related topic.  So I heartily endorse it here and am adding a link to my right-hand sidebar (note I have no financial interest or connection to Artsy, it's just a great site).

I'll let Diana explain their mission, with an example included:

We strive to make all of the world’s art accessible to anyone online. Our Vincent Van Gogh page, for example, provides visitors with Van Gogh's bio, over 70 of his works, exclusive articles, as well as up-to-date Van Gogh exhibition listings. The page even includes related artist and category tags, plus suggested contemporary artists, allowing viewers to continue exploring art beyond our Van Gogh page.

I’m contacting certain website and blog owners, and asking them to help us achieve our mission by adding a link to Artsy.   

So now you have another tool with which to better enjoy and understand your art.  Scope out Artsy, where I am certain you will be entertained and enlightened!

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