William T. Trego: Catalogue Raisonne

Battery of Light Artillery en Route, 1882

William B. T. Trego, Battery of Light Artillery en Route. 1882. Oil on canvas. 30 1/8 x 64 1/8 inches. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Gift of Fairman Rogers

Vital Statistics

Oil on canvas,
Signed and dated lr: "W. T. Trego, Phila. 1882"
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia

Commentary

This painting was awarded the first Charles Toppan Prize, for fine drawing, in 1882.

To suggest the dim light under a stormy sky, the artist subdued all colors, even the reds, with a pervasive grey tone. This aspect of the work was as much admired in Trego’s time as was the fine drawing which won him the Toppan Prize. Some of his contemporaries felt that this painting was superior to the more familiar March to Valley Forge which also won him a prize—and much controversy—a year later.

The subject of artillery batteries bogged down in mud or crossing difficult terrain was frequently illustrated by artists such as Alfred Waud and Edwin Forbes for their respective illustrated newspapers during the Civil War. Trego’s perceptions of the physical difficulty of moving horse drawn artillery and his use of such details as the drivers with their whips and the soldier manually pushing the wheel may have been influenced by the newspaper engravings he saw as a child.

The mounted officer on the far right end of the composition is derived from a figure in his 1881 sketch, French Cavalry Officers.

Provenance

Fairman Rogers made a gift of the painting to the Pennsylvania Academy where it has remained ever since.

Exhibitions

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1880, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Boston, Massachusetts, 1883, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1909, as one of four paintings displayed as a memorial to Trego at PAFA upon his death in the summer of 1909

Reproductions

Appeared in an album of reproductions of twenty eight paintings published by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1892 (NYT, 27 March 1891, p. 12); Used on cover of Civil War Times Illustrated, Vol. XIV, No. 8, December, 1975; In recent years it has been reproduced as a print by the Pennsylvania Academy.

Reference

Peter Hastings Falk, The Annual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 1876-1913, 1989, p. 478.

Annual Report of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1884, p. 33.

“[Tregos] Battery en route is remembered for its reality and for its handsome grey tone.” (The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, Vol LXIX , Nov. 1904 to April 1905, p. 726.)

“Men and horses strain and struggle with their unyielding burdens over the sodden road and under a leaden sky. The “unities” have been finely preserved in this work.” (Henry J. Thouron, Philadelphia Public Ledger, August, 1909.)

Condition

The painting is in excellent condition.

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James A. Michener Art Museum William T. Trego Catalogue Raisonne