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The Young Recruits

Christian Schuessele (Schussele), American (born France), 1824/26 - 1879

Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America


Oil on canvas

39 1/4 x 52 1/2 inches (99.7 x 133.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

* Gallery 216, American Art, second floor (McCausland Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with The McNeil Acquisition Fund for American Art and Material Culture, 2009

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In this painting, a Revolutionary War officer cheerfully rallies a group of boys wearing comical hats and armed with toy weapons. But not every face in this painting is joyful. For Christian Schuessele, who left revolution-torn Europe in 1848, the lessons of the successful American War of Independence (1775-83) were hardly playful or childish matters. By 1855, when the artist painted this scene, the United States was again struggling, this time to remain a union. In an era when artists rarely addressed political tensions, The Young Recruits raised questions about patriotism and readiness for war, bringing national issues into the realm of the family and the neighborhood.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.