The Graduate Center - City University of New York

Defiance: Inviting a Shot Before Petersburg.

Depicting an incident during the 1864-65 siege of Petersburg, Virginia, by Union forces, Homer's painting captures both the tedium of the ten-month stalemate—broken by the occasional foolhardy gesture of a Confederate soldier taunting distant Union sharpshooters—and the utter decimation of a once-verdant landscape, destroyed in the digging of some 35 miles of trenches by northern and southern forces. One figure in the scene continues to puzzle commentators: The caricatured African-American banjo player, whose portrayal differs markedly from Homer's other paintings.

Creator: Winslow Homer

Date: 1864

Source: Detroit Institute of Arts