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J. David Petruzzi, award-winning Civil War author and Historian writes, “In Lawes’ painting, the 35 star Union flag stands proud, reflecting the period near to the end of the civil war. It physically and symbolically casts a shadow on the ‘Wanted’ poster of the notorious gunslinger, Jesse James (note that the depiction of the poster, an actual Jesse James broadside, mistakenly refers to the Younger Gang as the “Youngsters”). This painting tells a story of the times of the Civil War and what followed this tragic period in American history. Not all were satisfied with the results; and for one man, who fought for the Confederacy, needed to reclaim his pride and property that he thought was stolen from him. This feeling of betrayal launched him into a life of crime that would ultimately be his undoing. We see in the painting a Confederate flag lying down on the period writing desk as though symbolically defeated. However, with the depiction of the Jesse James Colt .45 (James owned this actual firearm serial #70579) aimed at the Union flag in defiance, it seems, in some hearts and minds, the war rages on. In this painting you see there is Confederate currency lying on the Southern flag and Union currency by the Union flag. This not only illustrates the history, but also ties in with his true desires - the pursuit of money by any means. Eight bullets are placed ominously upright on the top of the period desk representing James’ birthplace, Missouri, which is the only state in the Union that borders eight other states. We also see a deck of period playing cards stacked under the Colt .45. This illustrates the lifestyle of the time - money, guns and poker. You may wonder about the six cards lying around the perimeter of the Colt .45; this, too, was composed for effect. The scattered cards are all in spades to parallel Jesse James’ life. Army soldiers at that time, and present day common folk lore believe that the symbolism of the spade to mean death and ill-fortune. Also, the six cards from left to right numerically represent the birth of Jesse James, 9/5/1847, symbolically illustrating when this man started his innocent life; and 34 years later his life was ended as a result of his rise in infamy”.

“It's brilliant! Bruce's deep commitment to history is evident in his ability to create a painting that is more than photo-realistic, but brings that history to life. Excellent, inspired work!" Michael Frost Beckner, Hollywood screenwriter and Producer (Spy Game, Sniper, The Agency, CSI)

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