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Prince De Joinville

March 2023
1min read


In the year that the Prince de Joinville was in America as an observer with the Federal forces, he made an engaging visual record of what he saw. In more than fifty watcr colors and sketches he vividly captured the foibles and heroism of the Americans, recorded the beauties of the landscape and the ugliness of war, and caught the Union soldier in moments of action and repose. It would be difficult to pay a better tribute to the artistic skill of the Prince than did his friend General McClellan in his memoirs: “The Prince de Joinville sketched admirably and possessed a most keen sense of the ridiculous, so that his sketchbook was an inexhaustible source of amusement, because everything ludicrous that struck his fancy on the march was sure to find a place there. He was a man of far more than ordinary ability and of excellent judgment.” This sense of the ridiculous, as well as his ability as a water-colorist, is admirably revealed in the picture above. Though there is some doubt as to whether the dinner portrayed ever actually took place, there is a ring of truth to foinville’s depiction of the Negro waiters fighting to serve President and Mrs. Lincoln while the other guests dodge the proffered food. The Prince did in fact meet Lincoln soon after arriving in this country, and most of his other water colors arc of scenes he himself witnessed. This and the others on the next six pages were chosen from the collection of his great-grandson, Monseigneur le Comte de Paris, by whose special permission they are reproduced here. —The Editors

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