William T. Trego: Catalogue Raisonne

Battery--Halt!, 1885

Courtesy of Jim's of Lambertville, Lambertville, New Jersey

Vital Statistics

Alternate title: Cavalry Charge of the Union Army
Oil on canvas, 42 x 88 inches
Signed and dated, ll: “W. Trego, 1885”
Collection of Jim's of Lambertville, Lambertville, New Jersey

Commentary

Battery—Halt! is a generic image of battle depicting no specific event. As the battery of horse-drawn artillery moves into position during a battle, officers signal with their uplifted hands and swords for the unit to halt. At the far right can be seen the dead soldier from the second of two 1884 preparatory oil studies for the work. The whole left-hand section of the painting is taken up with the same group seen in the first of those studies. That group, previously seen at ease, is now in full gallop, though all men and horses are in exactly the same configuration they held when at ease. However, the artist has slightly adjusted the posture of the mounted “driver” on the lead horse to show that his job was to control the adjoining horse as well. As in the study, the faces of the horses have been rendered with greater detail than those of the men. One suspects that here and in other paintings, the artist felt more sympathy for the animals than their human users. With their wild eyes and open mouths flecked with foam, the horses reveal the chaos and terror of battle in a way the faces of the soldiers do not.

Provenance

At the 1886 St. Louis Exhibition, the painting was purchased by a “Mr. Gibbons.” In the early 1920s it was donated to Illinois Wesleyan University by alumni Orlando W. Aldrich and was hung in the Buck Memorial Library. In 2006 it was consigned to Christie’s Auction in New York City in order to raise funds for IWU. It was sold by Christie’s as Cavalry Charge of the Union Army, lot 7, on 9 March 2007, to James Michael Alterman, proprietor of Jim’s of Lambertville gallery in Lambertville, New Jersey.

Exhibitions

New York City, 1886: Second Prize Fund Exhibition of the American Art Association.

St. Louis, Missouri, 1886: Third Annual Exhibition, St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall Association. The St. Louis exhibition included all of the paintings previously shown at the AAA Exhibition in New York earlier that year.

Doylestown, Pennsylvania, James A. Michener Art Museum, June 3-Oct 2, 2011: "So Bravely and So Well: The Life and Art of William T. Trego."

Reference

American Paintings and Sculpture contributed to the “Second Prize Fund Exhibition” (American Art Association, 1886), p. 38.

Catalogue of the Art Collection of the St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall Association (St. Louis, 1886), p. 45.

John D. Champlin and Charles C. Perkins, Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings, 1887.

The Argus, [Illinois Wesleyan University] 15 November 1923, p. 8; The Argus, 27 Mar 1929, p. 3.

Condition

The painting has been recently conserved and is in excellent condition.

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