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Oliver H. Willard [Attributed to]
Albumen silver print, from glass negative, with applied color
19.9 x 14.9 cm (7 13/16 x 5 7/8 in.) (image) 33.3 x 25.9 cm (13 1/8 x 10 3/16 in.) (mount)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2010, Accession Number:2010.35
This hand-colored portrait provides a good look at the colors of war—at least as worn by the Union army. It comes from a set of photographs commissioned in 1866 by Montgomery Meigs, Quartermaster General of the United States Army during and after the Civil War. Known as "the army behind the army," the Quartermaster Corps is the army’s oldest logistical branch. Then and now it is charged with clothing, transporting, and sustaining large field armies far away from their base camps. Meigs understood the historical value of permanently recording the clothing (with accurate colors) and personal accouterments worn by soldiers and officers during the war. The portraits by Oliver H. Willard, still a relatively obscure photographer, all show the same soldier/actor wearing a wide variety of uniforms and posing with the tools and emblems of his service and rank.