Civil War

1994 
Oil on Linen
134 x 204

For his second work in a series of war paintings, Bartlett was inspired by the Battle of Nashville. The Confederate army was all but destroyed in this battle, one of the few to be fought in the snow. At the center, an angelic Southern belle cradles a former slave, now Union soldier, in a pose similar to Michelangelo’s Pietà. In the background, a woman ministers to a white Confederate soldier, while in the foreground another fallen combatant lies with his back to the viewer. The field of white snow, unblemished by the blood of the battle, shines bright as an indication of the reconciliation that was to eventually come.

“This painting became an attempt to come to terms with my own displacement, a Southerner living in the North. Home is a mercurial concept. It disappears and becomes insolvent. The past holds a powerful nostalgic spell over us. Race became a central theme in the painting by default. I morphed the central self-portrait into a black figure in order to find the balance: coloristically, metaphorically and existentially.”