Sometimes you don’t have to look very far to find iconic artists. Such is the case for Richard Caton Woodville, who was born and raised in Mt. Vernon and created some of the most well-known paintings of the antebellum era. 

An exhibition of his work begins at The Walters Art Museum on March 10. “This is the most important Baltimore-born artist of the 19th century,” says Joy Peterson Heyrman, exhibition curator and deputy director of development. “His social commentary and incredible technique reveal elements of history that we can easily overlook.” 

At the age of 20, Woodville, pictured in a self-portrait, moved to Germany where he painted depictions of current events (his famous “War News from Mexico”) and changes in technology (photography and the railroad). Woodville’s career was cut short when he died from a morphine overdose at age 30, but the Walters is planning to exhibit his entire known collection of 16 paintings and some works that haven’t been on view. 

“It will be revealing to people that someone 160 years ago is dealing with the same issues today,” Heyrman says. “The idea of rapid technological change.”