On to Liberty

Theodor Kaufmann American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 762

Before coming to the United States in 1850, the German-born Kaufmann studied painting in Düsseldorf and Munich and fought in the 1848 popular uprisings in favor of German national unity. As a Union soldier in the American Civil War, he may have seen Confederate troops retreating with enslaved men, leaving behind women and children. Here, his portrayal of a group of fleeing figures indicates the lack of a clear route to liberty. Recent scholarship suggests that Kaufmann’s scene may have been inspired by a different cultural narrative—an 1859 work, produced in Brazil, by the French painter, Francois-Auguste Biard.

On to Liberty, Theodor Kaufmann (American (born Germany), Uelzen 1814–1896 New York), Oil on canvas, American

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