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Rudolph Lux practiced the very distinguished European art form of painting and gilding porcelain, which enjoyed very little note in mid-nineteenth century America. Never the less, he is considered to be the most successful artist of his type working in the Old South. His highly detailed and well-wrought images of figures both civic and domestic were much prized in New Orleans, where he worked in both the French Quarter and the American section. After the capitulation of New Orleans in 1862 Lux painted several members of the occupying forces, notably Nathaniel Banks, Benjamin F. Butler, and David Farragut. But prior to that time, internal evidence on this plate indicates that he created a series of works commemorating secession. This particular plate has an iconography composed of eight stars representing the eight Southern States who formed the Confederacy: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia. The member of a prominent Jewish family and an equally powerful political figure in his own right, Judah P. Benjamin was an appropriate subject for Lux. Having served Louisiana as a senator, he subsequently served as Secretary of War and Secretary of State for the Confederate States of America from March 1862 until the demise of the C.S.A. in April 1865. Benjamin was widely considered to be the most intelligent and effective member of President Davis' cabinet. Confederate historian Clement Eaton has written that Benjamin was "extremely versatile, he had the virtue of detachment and made a judicious counselor." Unregenerate and certainly unreconstructed, Benjamin fled to England after the war where he practiced law until his death.
For more information on this artist or the Southern masterworks in our collection, please visit our gallery website.
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