J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Restored Confederate Murals Reveal Long-Lost Secrets

A project that has been underway since last June has uncovered new details that haven’t been seen in decades. The Virginia Historical Society is in the process of restoring four large murals by artist Charles Hoffbauer (1875-1957), which depict the rise and fall of the Confederacy, and are entitled “Spring,” “Summer,” “Autumn,” and “Winter.” Hoffbauer began work on the murals in 1913 and completed them in 1920. They have been on display since 1921.

The restoration project will cost $870,000. The sum of $375,000 in grant money was awarded by the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The VHS must nearly match the funds, and is in the process of acquiring the funds.

In order to clean the murals, several layers of varnish that had been applied over the years have had to be removed, and an acrylic varnish, which should last over 100 years without yellowing the murals, will be applied. The cleaning has revealed several things that were hidden by dirt, including the bright purple color of A.P. Hill’s sash. Other elements that has been hidden for years is the existence of two wounded Confederate soldiers in the Spring mural, and a dead Yankee soldier in the Autumn mural.

E. Lee Shepard, VHS Vice President for Collections and Sallie and William B. Thalhimer III, Senior Archivist says the mural collection celebrates the Southern soldier and sailor. “The emphasis is on the valor of the Southern soldier,” he notes.

The murals are on display while restoration work is in progress, and can be seen at the VHS, which is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.

For information call (804) 358-4901 or visit www.vahistorical.org/hoffbauer

Additional information about the project can be found at: http://www.civilwarnews.com/archive/articles/2013/may/hoffbauer-0513.htm

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