Saturday, September 7, 2013

Changes to "The Charge" - Part 2

It’s done!

"The Charge"
30 x 48 inches, oil on canvas

Thanks to the timely assistance of my dear granddaughter Violet, “The Charge” is done.  Really.  I swear.

Violet helps Grandpa paint.

In the end, the biggest change involved moving most of the First Minnesota into the Charge Bayonets position.  Some participants mentioned the left companies halting once or twice during the charge; in my interpretation, that end of the line hasn’t caught up with the rest of the regiment, so I reasoned that they haven’t heard the order.  Artistic license?  Perhaps.  Educated guess?  Sure.

The right wing under Lt. Colonel Adams charges into the 11th Alabama Regiment.

The left wing under Major Downie rushes to catch up.

To be honest, this painting is the result of a whole series of educated guesses, with a liberal sprinkling of artistic license to fill in unknowns and allow me to create particular visual effects.  It’s always this way, and history painters who can’t admit this are fooling themselves and their followers.

I am under no illusion that, given the use of a time machine or (GEEK ALERT! GEEK ALERT!) Doctor Who’s blue police box, the Tardis, surviving participants of the actual charge would recognize this painting as a representation of their experience.  However, I do believe they would approve of the spirit of the piece – it is my hope that it would seem familiar. Does that make sense to you?

Time travels with the Doctor.

So – what else changed? 

The 10th and 14th Alabama got pushed back a dozen yards or so, creating the “second line” mentioned by Minnesotans who charged the 11th Alabama in the front and center of Wilcox’s Brigade.  This also helped separate the units into distinct formations, which is better from a narrative standpoint.

 8th and 10th Alabama Regiments

The 14 Alabama in its new position.

The hills on the horizon line now more closely resemble the actual geography and the Klingle farmhouse has received a coat of whitewash.  Pat and I walked around and photographed the existing building during our recent trip.

The ground Wilcox's Alabama Brigade advanced over - see the wreckage?

Colonel Colvill and the national colors have been moved to right of center – a few of my serious historian friends have reasons for believing that this was the case, and I defer to their judgement.

 Colonel Colvill and the First Minnesota's national colors.

Finally, I broke up the formation of the First Minnesota so that is a bit more ragged in appearance. In retrospect, I think it should have been painted even more so – one participant said they looked like skirmishers during the charge, a result of casualties and the breakdown of order as they moved to engage the Confederates.

For those who may find it interesting, I here post a photo of the painting with titles added to explain just who and what you are looking at.    I would like to create a simplified black and white drawing of the main features of the painting, complete with key, which was the way it was often done in the 19th century.  Ah, for more time and energy.

The key to "The Charge".  Good luck, folks!

You know, as I look at it, I notice that we could use just a few more grey-coated wounded and stragglers trailing out behind the Alabama lines.  They were there a month ago.

Where did I put that brush?  Hmmm . . .