A comparison of the original painting reproduced in this article see picture supplement with the lithograph reproduced on the cover will show immediately that considerable differences exist between the two pictures.
As a matter of fact, the lithograph is far more realistic in depicting the topography of the battlefield than is the Adams painting. In the lithograph, the background shows the valley of the Little Big Horn river and the river itself while in the painting the slope behind Custer rises abruptly in a steep hill.
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A comparison of the figure of Custer in the. In the painting, Custer is lunging forward with his saber;  in the lithograph Custer is swinging the saber back over his shoulder in preparation for a desperate blow. In considering these-and other-differences, two facts must be kept in mind: First, the lithograph was reproduced on stone by a second artist, and second, the painting was "restored," as pointed out previously, in The original printing of the lithograph  bears as part of the legend in print the words "Taken From the Artist's Sketches.
The Original Painting by Cassily Adams. Becker" in the lower right-hand corner. Further, the original lithograph was prepared for publication by the Milwaukee Lithographic and Engraving Company Milwaukee, Wis. A query directed to the Milwaukee Public Library brought the interesting response that Otto Becker, a lithographer by trade, was so listed in the city directories of Milwaukee for the years , inclusive. Following this lead further, correspondence was established with Miss Blanche Becker of Milwaukee, daughter of Otto Becker.
Miss Becker wrote at length concerning the work of her father who was foreman of the art department of the Milwaukee Lithographic and Engraving Company.
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A letter written by her father in states "I painted Custer's Last Stand in The original painting is still in my possession, but unfortunately, I was forced to cut it into pieces so that a number of artists could work on it at the same time, making the color plates. Becker and it was then acquired by Anheuser-Busch. The restored painting measures 24" by 40" and is now on display at the offices of Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, had become acquainted with Adolphus Busch and after the acquisition of the Adams painting by Busch, plans were made to lithograph the paint-.
If we can believe the legend on the original painting "after the artist's sketches," Busch presented several sketches of Adams' work to Becker and Becker would therefore have the right of selecting and making his own composition. There is, however, the added possibility that in the restoration of the Adams painting in , still other differences were introduced.
The painting, after its several discoveries, was admittedly in very bad condition and, since no one was available who knew the original painting,  no guide would be available for the restorers. A bad stain or loss of considerable pigment in the background, for example, could be covered by the hill apparent in the painting. Its inclusion would have saved many hours of tedious toil in painting in again if originally present the very considerable detail that appears in the background of the lithograph.
It seems probable in considering all of these facts that the differences between painting and lithograph are due to original differences produced in the lithography and to subsequent differences arising in the restoration. Since the lithograph, however, is the picture that is better known, the differences noted above, after all, are of minor importance. Some , copies of the large print have been distributed by Anheuser-Busch since the lithograph was first published in , and in , copies were being mailed out to servicemen and others at the rate of 2, a month.
Some thirst emporiums may have had their original copies on display for the. How many have seen and viewed the lithograph is, of course, any man's guess.
An examination, however, will soon show that it is no work of art--if by work of art we mean an abject of beauty. But it is indeed a picture that tells a powerful, if melodramatic and horrendous, tale. Be it recalled, however, that it is no more melodramatic or horrendous, however, than was the event itself. Troopers are being brained, scalped, stripped; white men, Indians and horses are dying by the dozens; Custer with flowing red tie  and long ringlets is about to deal a terrible saber blow to an advancing Indian who in turn is shot by a dying trooper; and hundreds of Indians are pictured or suggested in the background.
No doubt many a well meaning imbiber who has tarried too long with his foot on the rail and his eye on the picture, has cast hurried and apprehensive glances over his shoulder when a sudden yell from a passing newsboy brought him too swiftly back to the day's realities. The writer has one of these lithographs in his back laboratory which is occasionally shown to students, friends, and fellow university professors.
The reaction of those who have never seen the picture before is always interesting to observe. Incredulous first glances are always followed by study of all the gory details. Was it as bad as that? If not the best liked of all American pictures, it doubtless has been the most extensively examined and discussed of any. Other events have also added to the fame of this remarkable picture. For example, not long after first publication, Adolphus Busch presented a copy of the lithograph to Gov. Morrill of Kansas. Morrill, who served as governor from to , upon retiring.
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Cassilly Adams, Washington, D. Just when it was put on display in that institution there is apparently no definite record, but from the activities of the late Carrie Nation in the early 's, there arose a considerable interest because the name of the brewer appeared in large letters beneath the lithographic print of "Custer's Last Fight. The notice became notoriety when on January 9, , Blanche Boies, one of Carrie Nation's faithful followers, entered the State Historical Museum, then in the state house, with an axe in her hand and the light of grim determination in her eye.
She advanced on the offensive advertisement of Messrs. Anheuser and Busch and crashed her axe through the picture. Secretary Martin of the Historical Society hastily called the police who politely escorted Blanche to the city jail where she languished until bailed out by her friends. The Topeka papers gave Blanche a very handsome writeup for her efforts and the press of the state followed suit. One account called attention to the fact, however, that such excursions were nothing unusual for this disciple of Carrie Nation, for she "had wielded her hatchet with destructive effect on numerous occasions in Topeka's illicit pubs.
Blanche's well-intended efforts in protecting the morals of Kansas citizens were, alas, in vain. Some one immediately wired Anheuser-Busch for a new copy of "Custer's Last Fight" and the brewers responded promptly with the copy which now hangs in one of the hallways of the State Historical Society's building.
Martin, however, did have the foresight to opaque out the names of the donors which appear on the legend beneath the picture. The pictures of Mulvany and Adams have, as our account has shown, attracted wide interest for more than 65 years. Their efforts to recall the Custer tragedy, however, have not been the only ones. Because of the universal interest in this event it seems worth while to make a list of other pictures of Custer's Last Stand. The list as presented below is probably not complete, as new ones-or at least new to the writer-are still being found. Many well-known as well as obscure artists have attempted to portray the.
In the list which follows, some comment on the pictures has been made. Biographical information, when available, also has been included for the lesser known artists. Information about the better known artists can be secured from such useful handbooks as D. The list of other Custer pictures follows:. In , Dr. Charles E. In addition to the narrative. Red-Horse prepared a number of pictographs, many in color, on sheets of manila paper about 24 by 26 inches in size.
Although most primitive in design and execution, one can still visualize details of dress, action and incident from the pictographs. Buel's Heroes of the Plains New York, No reproductions are known to the writer.
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Custer's Last Fight" painted by E. Pierpont and staff of New York. The cyclorama, one of the popular predecessors of the motion picture in the history of American amusements, depicted many scenes and events of historical interest and it is not surprising that the Custer tragedy found expression in this form of art. The Custer cyclorama was on display in Boston early in , replacing the famous cyclorama of the Battle of Get-.
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Pierpont, the "executive artist" of the Custer piece, is said to have visited the battlefield on the Little Big Horn before work was begun, and secured photographs, interviewed some of Reno's survivors, and studied official reports. On Pierpont's staff were M. Salvador-Mege, Ernest Gros and Emile Merlot who painted the landscape of the cyclorama; the foreground figures on the huge painting were the work of Chas.
Corwin, Theo. Wendall, and G. Travers; E. Austin was responsible for many of the distant figures and the Indian village. A number of these artists are said to have worked on the Gettysburg cyclorama as well. The illustration, of no great merit, shows Custer as the central figure. A small pen and ink drawing made for Mrs.
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These illustrations, of course, may have been inspired by the Custer tragedy. One depicts a group of dismounted troopers and scouts making their stand at the top of a rocky hill. The main figures are an army officer with mustache and a scout.