Abolitionism, memory and the Civil War in William Louis Sonntag's Virginia landscapes
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The Virginia paintings of American landscape painter William Louis Sonntag (1822-1900) have gone unexplored in present scholarship devoted to the artist. Examining Sonntag’s relationship with radical abolitionist patron Elias Lyman Magoon exposes latent abolitionist tenets within Sonntag’s Virginia landscapes. Sonntag’s Virginia paintings also embody the artist’s revisions of American memory in response to the Civil War. The exhibition history of these works places them further within the context of American cultural reform. Sonntag’s Virginia landscapes will be subsequently read as the artist’s perceptions of a changing America.