Oil on canvas
Framed: 68.9 x 64.1 x 9.2 cm (27 1/8 x 25 1/4 x 3 5/8 in.); Unframed: 42.8 x 37.5 cm (16 7/8 x 14 3/4 in.); Former: 69 x 64 x 8 cm (27 3/16 x 25 3/16 x 3 1/8 in.)
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1944.524
During the Civil War, Homer worked as an artist-reporter for the New York newspaper Harper's Weekly.
Homer’s subject was inspired by a sentimental poem popular at the time, in which a Civil War soldier carves a wooden pipe and daydreams of the time when the conflict will end so that he can return home. The painting depicts two volunteers for the Union Army who sport their regiment’s highly colorful uniforms, a design soon discovered as impractical due to its ability to be spotted by sharpshooters. The museum acquired this work during World War II. It seems likely that the painting’s imagery was viewed as especially significant for its wartime audience.
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