David Gilmore Blythe (1815-1865)
Property from the Collection of Mrs. J. Insley Blair
David Gilmore Blythe (1815-1865)

Union Troops Entraining

David Gilmore Blythe (1815-1865)
Union Troops Entraining
signed 'Blythe' and bears inscription 'Presented to/Gen Jos. P B. Ward' (lower left)
oil on canvas
20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm.)
Painted circa 1861.
General Joseph P.B. Ward.
Acquired by the late owner by 1936.
Panorama, vol. 1, no. 4, January 1946, p. 41.
D. Miller, The Life and Work of David G. Blythe, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1950, pp. 79, 82, 131.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Paintings by David G. Blythe/Drawings by Joseph Boggs Beale, April 7-May 7, 1936, p. 14, no. 36.
Washington, D.C., National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution; Rochester, New York, University of Rochester, Memorial Art Gallery; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carnegie Institute, The World of David Gilmour Blythe, October 17, 1980-July 5, 1981, pp. 180-81, no. 207.

Lot Essay

Portraying the departure of the Thirteenth Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers at the Pennsylvania Station in 1861, David Gilmour Blythe’s Union Troops Entraining exemplifies his enthusiastic support of the cause. Indeed, for the last five years of his life, Blythe’s production would consist almost entirely of Civil War paintings. Following Lincoln’s call for volunteers, the Thirteenth Regiment assembled, and Blythe, although too old to join himself, followed. One member of the regiment wrote of Blythe, “He was a welcome guest at any mess he fell in with in constant wandering around.” (as quoted in D. Miller, The Life and Work of David G. Blythe, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1950, p. 80) With his brother Andrew enlisted in the Union Army, Blythe was eager to depict the spirit of the soldiers, as evidenced by his Union Troops Entraining. The present work captures the artist’s optimism for the war. In the foreground, a young man leaves his father and mother for the noble cause. Crowds of volunteers stretch as far as the eye can see, bidding loved ones farewell. Dorothy Miller writes on the effects of this particular event at the station, “The blare and throb of the music, the uniforms, and the emotional farewells seem to have stirred [Blythe] deeply, for months later he painted Union Troops Entraining.” (The Life and Work of David G. Blythe, p. 79)

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