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"Winter Riders" by Mort Kunstler

Raleigh, N.C., February 5, 1863

Signed & Numbered Limited Edition Print

Image size: 17" x 28"

Edition size: 3000 S/N

Price: SOLD OUT (Only available on our secondary market--call for current price and availability--800-237-6077)

I love painting snow scenes and night scenes, so working on Winter Riders was a delight for me. The painting originated in 1992 with an invitation form the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. The museum staff asked me to host a one-man exhibition of my Civil War art.

I was honored by the invitation and wanted to do a unique painting that symbolized North Carolina's important role in the War Between the States. Choosing an appropriate subject was difficult. I had already painted the state's most famous engagement - the Battle of Fort Fisher - in The Gunner and the Colonel and I had also painted the heroic charge of the 26th North Carolina at Gettysburg in The High Water Mark.

Finally, after two years of and several visits to Raleigh, the concept for Winter Riders emerged. Featuring Confederate troops and civilians, it represents North Carolina's major contribution to the war: its people. It also allowed me to focus on a snow scene and a night theme set near the North Carolina Capitol - appropriately near the the modern site of the new museum.

With the help of Raymond Beck, the Capitol historian, I learned what shops were located on Fayetteville Street during the war, which added color as well as authenticity to the painting. The owner of the jewelry store, for instance, was a Raleigh silversmith named John C. Palmer, whose handiwork is now part of the Museum's collection. The Capitol and Christ Episcopal Church have changed little in appearance since the war and today look virtually the same as they did in 1863. In front of the south facade of the Capitol is sculptor Jean Houdon's statue of George Washington, which still stands in the same spot today. The iron fence glimpsed just to the left of the horse and wagon encircled the Capitol in the 1860's and today can be seen surrounding Raleigh's City Cemetery. I learned that the capital was blanketed with snow on February 5, 1863, so that was the date I picked to paint this scene.

The State Museum's military curator: Tom Belton, provided research on uniforms, equipment, and accoutrements. the painting reflects the careful research of knowledgeable North Carolina historians, even the location of the street lamps and the lighting in the Capitol windows are accurate.

Flying atop the Capitol dome is the Confederacy's First National Flag and the North Carolina State Flag. The Confederate battle flag carried by North Carolina Cavalry gave me the opportunity to show all three flags in the same painting.

After all the work was done and Winter Riders was finished. I was pleased with the final result - and I hope the viewer is too.

 

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