Edwin Austin Forbes (Edwin Austin Forbes)

Edwin Austin Forbes

Artist. Born in New York, he began studying art in 1857 at the National Academy of Design in New York City, specializing in animal art. His instructor, Arthur F. Tait, achieved notice creating horse racing and country scenes for the Currier & Ives firm. In latter years features of Tait’s instruction were apparent in Forbes’s Civil War art. Hired by Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper as “special artist” in 1862 to cover the Civil War, he in the next 2 and a half years sketched the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862, the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Antietam, the struggle on Burnside’s Mud March in January 1863, the Chancellorsville Campaign, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Wilderness Campaign, the beginning of the Siege of Petersburg, and Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early’s Washington Raid in mid-July 1864. Between his coverage of these great battles and events he sketched daily camp life in the Union army and incidents in the field. These became his favorite subjects, and he produced a large body of work that formed the basis of his famous postwar series of copper plate etchings, Life Studies of the Great Army in 1876. He also returned to animal studies and did many sketches of cavalry and artillery horses at work and in action. His coverage of Early’s raid on Washington was his last field work for Leslie’s. Thereafter he lived in Flatbush, Brooklyn, reworking his best Civil War themes. At the 1876 Centennial Exposition he was given a medal for Life Studies, then in 1890 a 2 volume work, Thirty Years After: An Artist’s Story of the Great War, was published. This also contained memoirs of his life as a Civil War “special” for Leslie’s. Though a paralytic stroke numbed his right side in the early 1890’s, he continued to work, drawing with his left hand until his death in Brooklyn. His work can be found in the National Archives and the Library of Congress. (bio by: Ugaalltheway)


  • January, 01, 1970
  • USA


  • March, 03, 1895
  • USA


  • Green-Wood Cemetery
  • USA

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