In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream, and lo! The shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls. - Joshua L. Chamberlain
In an unusual large-scale panorama that appears in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Keith Rocco depicts the scope of Gettysburg; the battle and the aftermath. Three sets of images are linked chronologically from left to right. The first section represents the battle itself in scenes from the fighting on Cemetery Hill on 2 July (the subject of this giclee print); the second section portrays the interring of the dead; lastly, the third section depicts Abraham Lincoln delivering his immortal address on 19 November 1863.
"Original artwork is a significant component of the exhibit galleries," said Tom Schwartz, Illinois State Historian and the Supervising Historian for the creation of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. "Our mandate to Bob Rogers and BRC Imagination Arts was to select an artist whose work would elicit excitement and empathy while also being historically accurate with even the smallest details. Keith Rocco does all this and more." "It was a short search. The obvious choice was Keith," said Bob Rogers. "No living artist has Keith's knowledge and insight into the War Between the States. Keith is obsessed with meticulous accuracy and detail, but at the same time he captures the raw action, power and emotion of the conflict. Keith's work puts you right into the boots of those men. You can almost hear the bullets knifing past your ear."
These two spectacular murals, one on Gettysburg and the other on the 54th Massachusetts, are the largest and most important art pieces in the new museum. The Gettysburg panorama, for example, measures 10 feet high x 42 feet wide, so big that it is displayed in its own separate gallery.
"We were so impressed with Keith's work that our composer, David Kneupper, created an original musical score just for Keith's Gettysburg painting. The music plays in the gallery with Keith's painting and nowhere else in the museum.
"Gettysburg was a critical turning point in American History, both the battle and the speech," said Rogers. "It continues to fascinate us. Keith's mural captures it all, the courage, the tragedy, the sorrow and the renewal." -Rob Girardi
Excerpt from "The Soldier's View. The Civil War Art of Keith Rocco."