Friday, February 28, 2014

Illustrating the Revolution

The Pottstown-based Schuylkill River Heritage Area opened a unique exhibit at Valley Forge National Historical Park Saturday, entitled "Bringing the War of Independence to Life: 19th Century Illustrations of the American Revolution."

The exhibit will feature 42 illustrations of the Revolutionary War by 16 different artists whose work originally appeared in 19th century publications.

All the works have been culled from the personal collection of Schuylkill River Heritage Area Executive Director Kurt Zwikl. They will be on display in the park Visitor Center through April 28.

In the 19th century, stories and articles about the Revolutionary War provided popular subject matter for books, magazine and newspapers. Because the war had been fought before the advent of photography, artists drew illustrations to accompany the text, thereby producing the only visual record of the war. 

Today, those works continue to teach us not only about the history of our country, but also about the methods by which people and events of the Revolutionary Era were visually portrayed.

Zwikl has long had an interest in 19th century illustrations of the Revolutionary War. From his collection, built over 40 years, he has selected 42 images of battles, leaders and events for the exhibit. 
While at Valley Forge, Washington stayed at this house, owned
by Isaac Potts, a son of Pottstown founder John Potts

He has also created a booklet to accompany the exhibition that offers insights into the significance of the illustrations, and provides details about the artists who created the works. The booklet will be available for sale at Valley Forge National Historical Park throughout the exhibit.

After its run at Valley Forge, Bringing the War of Independence to Life will be moved to Morristown National Historical Park, in New Jersey, where it will hang from June 23-August 26 at the park’s Washington Headquarters Museum.

The exhibit is the result of a partnership between the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and Valley Forge National Historical Park, as well as Morristown National Historical Park, and Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area, in New Jersey.

“We are pleased to be able to tell the story of the war through these fascinating illustrations, and through a partnership that allows us to emphasize the Revolutionary War connections between two national parks in Valley Forge and Morristown, and between two National Heritage Areas: the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and Crossroads of the American Revolution,” said Zwikl.

The exhibit will be on display at Valley Forge National Historical Park’s Visitor Center during regular operating hours from 9-5 daily, through April 28. It is free and open to the public. 

A 24-page booklet about the exhibit will be on sale for $6.95 at the Visitor Center Encampment Store.

The Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, managed by the non-profit Schuylkill River Greenway Association, uses conservation, education, recreation, historic and cultural preservation and tourism as tools for community revitalization and economic development.

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