"Bold, Cautious, True: Walt Whitman and the American Art of the Civil War Era" is an exhibit currently on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts through August 26. The exhibition explores the meanings and moods of 1860's American art against the backdrop of the poetry of Walt Whitman, one of the chief "scribes" of the American Civil War. When Walt Whitman wrote "As Toilsome I Wander'd Virginia's Wood," the lyrical refrain "Bold, cautious, true" resonated not only because of the losses of war but also in the context of the American artists, writers, soldiers, and others left behind to heal the war's wounds.
This exhibit juxtaposes the writings of Whitman with various landscapes and genre scenes by Conrad Wise Chapman, Frederic Church, Robert Duncanson, David Johnson, Winslow Homer, among others. The exhibit encourages a fresh understanding of America's visual and verbal responses to the national crisis. Showcasing one of the VMFA's seminal works, Eastman Johnson's "A Ride for Liberty--The Fugitive Slaves, March 2, 1862," the exhibition also includes a variety of paintings, sculpture, and rare books from noted public and private collections across the country. The exhibit is free. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is just a short walk from Maury Place at Monument.