Sister painting to Gettysburg Cyclorama’s finds new owner
Workers from Keystruct Construction labor on the new museum and visitor center at Gettysburg National Military Park. Red metal siding is up on the cyclorama portion of the building, designed to make the center resemble a barn. The longtime Gettysburg Cyclorama painting will be moved to the new center.
A depiction of Pickett’s Charge, painted by the same artist who produced the Gettysburg Cyclorama work, has been purchased in North Carolina.
A story in the York Daily Record explains the 376-foot-long painting:
A towering, 6-ton painting depicting the Battle of Gettysburg was sold recently in North Carolina after decades in storage, according to the agent handling the transaction.
The cyclorama, which is 76 feet longer than a football field, is meant to be displayed in a round room to give viewers the feeling they are at the battle. The painting depicts the bloodiest assault of the Civil War for both the Union and the Confederacy.
“When I saw it, I just about died. I was almost enraptured into it,” said Larry D. Laster, a Winston-Salem fine arts dealer. “Everyone who has seen it has said the same thing, that you’re dragged into the painting.”
Winston-Salem artist Joe King spent 30 years searching for the cyclorama, which he found in 1965, behind the wall of a burned-out Chicago warehouse. King was unable to find a home for the massive painting and willed it to Wake Forest University when he died in 1996.
The cyclorama is one of four created by French military artist Paul Philippoteaux and a team of artists in the 1880s.
Another was on display at the Gettysburg National Military Park but is now off-limits to the public while it is being restored. A team of conservationists has been working to undo damage from rain, rot, fire and years of being hung improperly.
The work is ongoing in the current Cyclorama Center while the conservation team prepares to move the painting to the finished portion of the new museum and visitor center under construction in Gettysburg, said Dru Anne Neil, spokeswoman for the Gettysburg Foundation.
The painting will be moved in June and then unveiled when the new center opens in 2008.
“For the painting’s purpose … it’s ready to go,” she said.
Laster said the painting at Wake Forest recently was sold to three businessmen from central North Carolina, but he declined to name them or disclose how much they paid. Laster, who acted as the buyers’ broker, said he expected the cyclorama to resell for $10 million or more.
The businessmen prefer to sell to an institution with the ability to publicly display the painting – which measures 376 feet long and about 22 feet high – but they are considering other offers, Laster said.
He expects it to sell within six months despite the covenants that come along with the purchase, including that it be conserved as a single work and not broken into separate paintings.
Titled “The Battle of Gettysburg,” the painting is considered by art experts to be one of the most unusual pieces of American art in history. It depicts the battle on July 3, 1863, the day of Pickett’s Charge.
It was last displayed in public in 1933, at the Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago.
After he bought the painting, King had the 14 rolls on which it had been stored unrolled on the Bowman Gray football field. The goal posts had to be removed because the painting was 76 feet longer than the field.