New Article on the Copying of Civil War Soldier Monuments

beetham figure 1

The latest issue of Nierika: Revista de Estudios de Arte is now out, and it includes an article I wrote on the replication of stock soldier figures in the wake of the Civil War! The article is part of a special section in the new issue organized by Amanda Douberley and me addressing the ways in which sculpture is copied, multiplied, and replicated. Based on a panel we organized at the 2013 Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC), “Sculpture’s Multiples,” the issue examines the ways in which exact multiples of sculpture can be produced through mechanical means and the implications these processes have on the theme of originality in art. The three essays are by Amanda Douberley, Leda Cempellin, and me, and they explore the changing attitudes toward replication and originality in sculpture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

My essay is titled “’An Army of Bronze Simulacra’: The Copied Soldier Monument and the
American Civil War,” and the abstract is below:

In the wake of the American Civil War, memorials to citizen soldiers who died during the conflict proliferated across the national landscape. Many of these monuments were replicated over and over using available mechanical processes to reproduce sculpture. Critics often complained that the monuments lacked originality or failed to memorialize the soldier properly. But the very formal sameness of the soldier monuments contributed to their effectiveness, connecting the statues to nineteenth-century popular culture with a visual repetition that linked local trauma with national memory. Ultimately, the soldier monument’s repetitive mimetic qualities made it a highly recognizable and legible form that continues to telegraph the enormous human cost of the Civil War.

To access the entire issue, click HERE.

Citation: Sarah Beetham, “‘An Army of Bronze Simulacra’: The Copied Soldier Monument and the American Civil War.” Nierika: Revista de Estudios de Arte 4, no. 7 (January-June 2015): 34-45.

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