Item: Picture of the Battle of Gettysburg by Peter Frederick Rothermel

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Record Number: 10523
Call number: Bb 53 G394r
Date of View: 1863
Date of Item: 1870
View Format: Painting
Item Format: Print
Image description: Copy of painting by Peter Frederick Rothermel (1812-1895) depicting scenes from the Battle of Gettysburg. Rothermel's The Battle of Gettysburg was commissioned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1867 for $25,000 and took Rothermel 3 years to complete. The canvas of the original painting measured 16 by 32-foot and was accompanied by four smaller battle paintings at the time of its unveiling in 1870.

Rothermel modeled many of the figures in The Battle of Gettysburg after real individuals, provoking objections from those soldiers who were not included in the painting. Rothermel also courted controversy by including critical leaders and events of the battle in one comprehensive scene rather than portraying a literal recreation of a particular moment in combat. Perhaps the most prominent example of this approach is Rothermel's depiction of General Meade who appears on the left-hand side of the picture, even though Meade was not on the battlefield at the moment of Pickett's Charge.

Following the unveiling of The Battle of Gettysburg, Rothermel's canvases toured the country from 1870 to 1873. In 1876, the canvases were displayed in Memorial Hall during the Centennial Exhibition. The Battle of Gettysburg was moved to Harrisburg in 1894 and now resides in the State Museum.