Prinsoners from the front,1866 by Winslow Homer
The material that Homer collected as an artist-correspondent during the Civil War provided the subjects for his first oil paintings. In 1866, one year after the war ended and four years after he reputedly began to paint in oil, Homer
completed the picture Prisoners from the Front, one of Homer's most famous and highly lauded paintings of the Civil War, a work that established his reputation.
It represents an actual scene from the war in which a Union officer, Brigadier General Francis Channing Barlow (1834–1896), captured several Confederate officers on June 21, 1864. The background depicts the battlefield at Petersburg, Virginia.
General Barlow was not only a friend whom Homer had visited at the front at least once and probably more often than that, but was also "one of the most eminent" officers to survive the war. Barlow had a record of valorous military service in which, particularly, "he distinguished himself at the Wilderness by leading his division in the grand charge which resulted in the capture of the rebel General Ed. Johnson's entire division" - an incident of which Homer's painting can easily be considered a symbolic representation.
Infrared photography and numerous studies indicate that the painting underwent many changes in the course of completion.