"The Council of War" Cast Plaster Sculpture by John Rogers, 1868

Presented is a rare plaster-cast sculpture entitled Council of War by artist John Rogers. Made a few years after the end of the Civil War, this sculpture depicts the three great Union leaders discussing military actions. President Lincoln studies a map at center, while General Grant points out his plans. Secretary of War Stanton listens from behind, wiping his glasses. These figures were placed together in the composition to signify the most powerful men by the end of the Civil War. 

John Rogers produced a small amount of these plaster casts in 1868 at the suggestion of Secretary Stanton, who described the scene as "one of the most interesting and appropriate occasions" for a sculpture.  Diverging from the common practices of his predecessors, Rogers utilized plaster instead of bronze as a way to provide more affordable options to middle-class Americans during the 19th century. 

The work became a popular memorial to Lincoln and his advisors for an American middle-class audience. The original sculpture was first exhibited to the public in 1868 and Stanton and Robert Todd Lincoln both praised it as the best likeness of Lincoln they had seen. Stanton wrote to Rogers, "I am highly gratified with the genius and artistic skill you have displayed . . . I think you were especially fortunate in your execution of the figure of President Lincoln. In form and feature it surpasses any effort to embody the expression of that great man which I have seen..."

Rogers was a commercial artist with the aim to sell his work to a very wide audience. Thus, edits to the composition were made in order to appeal to more people. Rogers  producing three different versions in 1868. This sculpture grouping was one of his most popular and sought-after. 


This sculpture is in very good condition, considering its age and fragile nature. The plaster piece is finished in a matte light grey paint and is in good condition. The piece is signed and dated by Rogers at the base. The title is etched on the front portion of the sculpture. Artist signature, title, and date are all very legible. Overall, plaster is well kept and free of significant markings. Small dents and very minor chips to paint near Grant's coat, Stanton's hands, and base but structurally the sculpture remains very sound.

Dimensions: 24" H x 13" W x 11.5" D.

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