For any historian, seeing or hearing the past, holding it in your hand, is almost euphoric. We trudge around cemeteries, carefully handle old letters, documents, and newspapers while every word drips like nectar from the pages, visit historic houses and museums to “hear” the artifacts talk—to feel the past—and pour over old photographs and paintings to understand the humanity of the subject or event. History is alive to us, as alive as the people sitting in the room. I have more often than I can remember talked to the pages of old books and documents. Historians have vivid imaginations. You cannot be a good historian without one.
We often wonder what it would be like to hear George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, to be a fly on the wall at the Philadelphia State House in 1776, or to be an eyewitness to some great event, to see it in color, undimmed by the shades from black and white photographs. We want to smell it, touch it, see it, taste it, and feel it. The best histories, whether in print, film, sound, or presentation, come to life. They are a part of us and define who we are as a people.
Thankfully, there are artists who work to “colorize” the past. For those of us who enjoy Southern history, a Danish artist named Zuzah has produced several beautiful colorizations of Southern heroes. His website and Facebook account have more, but I have provided a sampling of his work, some from the War, others from American history that Abbeville readers may find interesting. He does work on commission, so if you have an old photograph or a historic event or person in mind that you think would look great in color, contact him. His specialty is the War, but as you can see from his website portfolio, he has produced some interesting prints in American and European history and pop culture as well. Enjoy!
George Washington Custis Lee, Robert E. Lee, and Walter Taylor
Captain George W. Hackworth, 1st Virginia Cavalry
Lewis Powell, William H. Seward’s would-be assassin
George Patton (had Confederate ancestors)
President Martin Van Buren (one of the better U.S. Presidents)
President James Buchanan (the most underrated President in American history)
President Grover Cleveland (the last Jeffersonian to hold the office)