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"Forming The Line" by Mort Kunstler

Signed & Numbered Limited Edition Print

Image size: 17 1/2" x 29 1/2"

Edition size: 1250 S/N

Issue price: SOLD OUT FROM THE ARTIST & PUBLISHER (Only available on our secondary market--we should be able to locate it for you, if we do not already have it in stock--call us for price and availability---800-237-6077)

Searching for an idea for a painting is always a difficult task and they always come about in different ways. In the case of Forming the Line, I was looking for an artillery subject because I had not done one in a number of years. The one thing that I wanted to avoid was the repetition of a work that had been done by me or by another artist. Most paintings depict the guns firing because the smoke and flames are so dramatic. Equally dramatic, I think, is the act of forming the line, when the artillery is rolled in to place, unlimbered and set up. This was especially so on the third day at Gettysburg, when Confederates were preparing for the greatest field artillery barrage in American history at that time.

In Forming the Line, we see Colonel Edward Porter Alexander and General James Longstreet overseeing the confederate artillery. Alexander, Longstreet's young chief of artillery, uses binoculars to study the distant enemy line on Cemetery Ridge, while Longstreet waits for the gifted artillerist's observations. Around them is a swirl of activity as the guns are wheeled into place.

In composing the picture, I began to realize that I could show every phase of placing the guns in line. My sincere appreciation goes to Lt. Col. David Stanley, an expert on horse drawn artillery who I met in Raleigh N.C. He was invaluable help in my understanding the complete operation needed to compose this picture including maneuvers, the positioning of the men, the harnesses, etc.

In the extreme right foreground, we see a bronze Napoleon, unlimbered, the handspike in place. Near the middle of the picture, directly behind Longstreet, the crew of another Napoleon works at putting it into firing order. Farther back behind the staff officers, another crew works on their gun that has been just unlimbered, as the horse team is seen to the extreme left of the painting, riding right to left, as they pull their caisson to the rear. The teams in the extreme left background moving left to right are bringing up their guns to set into line.

It is the early morning of July 3. The artillery crews have worked all night positioning the guns and are almost finished with their preparation. In a few hours, a massive Confederate artillery barrage will launch the most famous infantry assault of the Civil War: Pickett's Charge. -Mort Kunstler

 

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