Alfred Rudolph Waud

Alfred Rudolph Waud Waud (wōd)

(October 2, 1828 – April 6, 1891)

 

was an American artist and illustrator, born in London, England. He is most notable for the sketches he made as an artist correspondent during the American Civil War.

 

The period during the American Civil War was time when all images in a publication had to be hand drawn and engraved by skilled artist. Photography existed but there was no way to transfer a photograph to a printing plate since this was well before the advent of the halftone process for printing photographs. Photographic equipment was too cumbersome and exposure times were too slow to be used on the battlefield. An artist such as Waud would do detailed sketches in the field, which were then rushed by courier back to the main office of the newspaper they were working for. There a staff of engravers would use the sketches to create engravings on blocks of boxwood. Since the blocks were about 4 inches across they would have to be composited together to make one large illustration. The wood engraving was then copied via the electrotype process which produced a metal printing plate for publication.

 

In 1860, Alfred Waud became an illustrator or “special artist” (a full time paid staff artist) for the New York Illustrated News. In April 1861, the newspaper assigned Waud to cover the Army of the Potomac, Virginia’s main Union army. He first illustrated General Winfield Scott in Washington, D.C., and then entered the field to render the First Battle of Bull Run in July. Waud followed a Union expedition to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina the next month and witnessed the Battle of Hatteras Inlet Batteries. That autumn, he sketched army activity in the Tidewater region of Virginia. Waud joined Harper’s Weekly toward the end of 1861, continuing to cover the war. In 1864 Alfred’s brother, William Waud (who up to that time had been working with “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper“), joined Alfred on the staff of Harper’s and they worked together during the Petersburg Campaign.

 

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