Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg
1863, printed 1866
Albumen silver print
Image: 6 3/4 x 9 1/16 in.
Mount: 12 x 15 5/8 in.
printed: ALEX. GARDNER, Photographer, \ Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1866, by A. Gardner, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Columbia. \ 511 7th St., Washington. \ HOME OF A REBEL SHARPSHOOTER, GETTYSBURG. \ No. 41. \ July, 1863.
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
What is the function of art that depicts war?
What roles can photography play in documenting lives and events?
What is our expectation of accuracy when viewing depictions of actual events, historical or contemporary?
How can artists memorialize traumatic events?
How does setting contribute to the mood of an artwork?
What artistic strategies can artists use to help viewers connect with the subject of an image?
What immediately captures your eye? What are your initial feelings when you view this?
Let’s talk a moment about how this image was crafted to elicit these responses from us. First, who do you believe we are seeing here and what evidence has the photographer provided to convey that? Describe the setting. Where do you believe this image was taken? (Students do not need to provide a specific location; instead, guide students to discuss the fortification and how it signals that this is a battlefield.)
Where are we as viewers in relation to the man and this fortification? Why do you believe the artist selected this vantage point?
This photograph was taken by Alexander Gardner and is titled Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg. Why do you believe he might have taken this photograph? What purpose might it serve? What does the title communicate?
Photography was a relatively new medium during the Civil War. How would the experience of viewing a photograph from battle differ from other media, like print, painting, or sculpture? What would be the benefits of using photography to document the war? What would be the disadvantages?
Gardner staged this scene by repositioning the man’s body and adding a rifle to enhance the emotional quality of this photograph. What is the role of a photographer in documenting a historic event? What is your opinion of an artist staging a scene for a work like this? What should be the balance between accuracy and storytelling? Is it possible to have a completely accurate documentary photograph, or will the artist always have a hand in shaping the image?
Have students think of a cause or current event of importance to them. Students will work in small groups or independently to create a photograph that will engage audiences with their selected topic. In crafting their photograph, students should be thoughtful about how best to stir the desired response from viewers.
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