General George B. McClellan, after Mathew Brady

Date:
1996
Medium:
Oil on wood framed by the artist
Dimensions:
8 ¼ x 4 ½ inches
Credit Line:
Collection of Lysiane Luong Grooms and the artist

Brady and Grooms depict McClellan in the classic “hand-in-waistcoat” military pose associated with portraits of Napoleon but actually dating back to Roman times, and meant to convey calm leadership. In early photography, which required extremely long poses, it also helped keep the arm still. Lincoln put McClellan in charge of the Union’s Army of the Potomac after its loss at Bull Run. Though McClellan was a star pupil in his West Point class, many historians agree with Lincoln that he lacked boldness. Lincoln thought he should have pursued Lee’s retreating army after the bloody Battle of Antietam in September 1862, and not long afterwards relieved McClellan of command.