Edwin Forbes

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1966

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Edwin Forbes (1839-1895) became a Special Artist for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper in 1862, and traveled with the Union Armies during the Civil War to record the battles and camp-scenes . Approximately 150 of his battlefield sketches were reproduced in the pages of Leslie's. After the war, Forbes settled in Brooklyn, New York, where he established himself as an etcher and painter. A vast majority of his work relied on the sketches he had made during the Civil War. In 1876 he exhibited his Life Studies of the Great Army, a collection of forty etchings, at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. The etchings were well received, and brought him national and international recognition as an etcher. Life Studies remains his major achievement. Forbes published Thirty Years After, An Artist's Story of the Great War in 1891. This second collection consists of several hundred etchings based on the battlefield sketches. Forbes wrote a chatty text to accompany the etchings. During the 1880's, Forbes illustrated several children's books such as Josephine Pollard's Our Naval Heroes in Words of Easy Syllables (New York, 1886). The etchings in these books are of a generally poor quality. Twelve oil paintings dealing with the Gettysburg Campaign are among his better work. They are small canvases which reveal his skill as a painter. Forbes also wrote a short account of "The Gettysburg Campaign," which remains unpublished. Besides war themes based on the field sketches, Forbes was interested mostly in animal studies. Some of his paintings from the seventies resemble Tait's work during the same period . Several charming pencil studies of ducks, hens, and other barnyard animals have been discovered in Philadelphia and Washington. Forbes' favorite animal, however, was the horse. Unfortunately, most of these studies have disappeared. One of Forbes' last achievements was the invention of a starting-gate for horse races in 1891.

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