The Pell Mell Charge, 1887
Courtesy of History Colorado
Vital StatisticsAlternate title: The Charge
Oil on canvas, 20 x 30 inches
Signed, dated, and copyrighted, ll: “Copyright—W. T. Trego ’87”
In pencil at the top of the stretcher: “Wm T. Trego North Wales ‘The Charge’ ”; label on stretcher, back upper center “G. H. Braman Art Dealer Denver Col.”
CommentaryInto a modest space Trego has packed one of his mostly densely grouped compositions. Though only one horse can be seen in its entirety, the rendering of the horses calls to mind the photographic experiments of Eadweard Muybridge ten years earlier, with seemingly every possible position of the legs illustrated as they fly by. It is worth noting that the horse in the immediate foreground is configured almost exactly like the animal in frame 11 of the 1878 Muybridge study of Leland Stanford’s horse, “Sallie Gardner at a Gallop.”
This was the first work that Trego copyrighted.
ProvenancePurchased from the artist in November 1887 by Thomas B. Clarke, who sold it on 20 March 1890 at the Fifth Avenue Art Galleries in NYC for $200. (Weinberg, “Thomas B. Clarke; Foremost Patron of American Art,” American Art Journal, 1976) In 1891 the painting was owned by art dealers Wm. O’Leary and Company in Detroit. (S.C.A. Art Loan!, Catalogue of Art Exhibited [Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1891], p. 39) Its ownership and location from 1891 to 1932 cannot be documented. It was donated to the Colorado Historical Society in 1932 by Marcia Helm, who provided no provenance. As Mrs. Helm was the widow of Civil War veteran Joseph Helm, it is possible that the painting had been previously owned by her husband.
ExhibitionsNew York City, November–December 1887: Autumn Exhibition of the National Academy of Design.
Chicago, 1889: Annual Exhibition of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, May 16–29, 1891: University of Michigan Student Christian Association fund-raising exhibit and sale, item 49, priced at $500, courtesy of Wm. O’Leary and Co.
ReproductionsIssued as a print by fine art publisher Charles Klackner of New York City in 1891. It was the earliest of Trego’s works to be reproduced as an engraved print; prints of this work were still being sold some twenty years later. On the cover of Civil War Times 32, no. 6 (February 1994). Misidentified as “The Charge of Custer at Winchester,” on the cover of Little Big Horn Associates Newsletter 39, no. 8 (October 2005).
ReferenceRecord of the Annual Exhibition of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1889
S.C.A. Art Loan!, Catalogue of Art Exhibited (Ann Arbor, MI, 1891)