Taking the Oath and Drawing Rations

John Rogers, American, 1829 - 1904

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1866

Painted plaster

Overall: 23 1/4 × 11 13/16 × 7 7/8 in. (59 × 30 × 20 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College

S.X.993.17.4

Geography

Place Made: United States, North America

Period

19th century

Object Name

Sculpture

Research Area

Sculpture

Not on view

Inscriptions

Signed, on top of base, center: JOHN ROGERS / NEW YORK; inscribed, front of base, center: TAKING THE OATH / AND / DRAWING RATIONS; inscribed, back of base, center: PATENTED / JAN 30 1866

Label

In this, one of Rogers’s most popular Civil War groups, a Union soldier doffs his cap to a Southern widow as she takes an oath of loyalty in order to receive rations during Reconstruction. The mother looks lovingly at her son, who, completing the circle of gazes, directs our attention back toward his new “father.” This quasifamily allegorizes the reunion of North and South through the sentimental cult of domesticity. Drawing upon the gender hierarchy within the nuclear family, Rogers casts the North as a patriarchal but genteel authority and the rebel South as his graceful but subordinate female charge.

A fourth figure complicates this romance by raising the divisive specter of race. A young African American boy in tattered clothing rests against a barrel, gazing quizzically toward the white family of a reunified United States. What is his relationship to these figures? Like the woman’s son, his youth renders him dependent upon the Union soldier’s benevolence as well as the care of what viewers imagine to be his former mistress. However, without the guarantee of either’s custody, his fate is unclear.

Marketed to a Northern audience, Rogers’s group sought to quell anxieties over the war’s two most important outcomes: reunification and the abolition of slavery. And as with so many postwar attempts to memorialize the conflict, Rogers opted to focus on white sacrifice and to de-emphasize black agency. Is the African American boy the “white man’s burden,” or a reluctantly adopted “brother” within a national family that continued to imagine itself in racially exclusive terms.

From the 2019 exhibition American Art, Colonial to Modern, curated by Barbara J. MacAdam, Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art


Course History

ITAL 2, Introductory Italian II, Scott Milspaugh, Fall 2013

ITAL 2, Introductory Italian II, Jonathan Mullins, Winter 2014

ITAL 2, Introductory Italian II, Scott Millspaugh, Winter 2014

ENGL 29, American Fiction to 1900, Colleen Boggs, Spring 2014

Sociology 1.01, Introduction to Sociology, Kimberly Rogers, Spring 2023

English 52.19, Poverty in American Literature: 1861-1925, Colleen Boggs, Spring 2023

English 52.19, Poverty in American LIterature: 1861-1925, Colleen Boggs, Spring 2023

Geography 21.01/International Studies 18.01, Global Health and Society, Anne Sosin, Spring 2024

Exhibition History

A Space for Dialogue 43, "Bringing the Thing Home" The Aftermath of the War Between the States in Consumer-Driven Art, Virginia F. Deaton, Class of 2009, Homma Family Intern, Main Lobby, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, February 18-April 13, 2008.

American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, William B. Jaffe and Evelyn A. Jaffe Hall Galleries, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 9-December 9, 2007.

American Art, Colonial to Modern, Israel Sack Gallery and Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26, 2019-September 12, 2021.

The American Scene: Views of Everyday Life, 1840-1890, Harrington Gallery Teaching Exhibition, ArtH50, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 27-September 6, 1998.

Publication History

Barbara J. MacAdam, American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Muesum of Art, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2007, p. 115, no. 88.

Virginia F. Deanton, A Space for Dialogue 43, "Bringing the Thing Home" The Aftermath of the War Between the States in Consumer-Driven Art, Hanover, New Hampshire: Dartmouth College, 2008, ill. p. 3.

Provenance

Source unknown.

Catalogue Raisonne

D. H. Wallace, John Rogers: The People's Sculptor, 1967, no. 108.

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