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 Edward Troye  (1808 - 1874)

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Lived/Active: Alabama/Kentucky / England/Switzerland      Known for: racehorses, animal portraits, figures and landscape painting

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Ad Code: 3
Edward Troye
from Auction House Records.
Massoud with Yusef Bedra in Extensive Landscape
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born near Lausanne, Switzerland in 1808, Edward Troye became one of the first United States artists to specialize in animal subjects.  He was the foremost mid-19th century painter of horses, creating nearly 360 paintings and numerous drawings.  He also painted portraits of leading preachers of the day including Reverend Joseph Stiles.  Other subjects were prize livestock and equestrian figure portraits such as two equestrian portraits of General Winfield Scott", the Civil War General.  One of the portraits, commissioned by the Virginia legislature before the outbreak of the Civil Was, was hung just before the war by the artist on the east staircase of the House of Representatives with the hope that someone would pay his price of $6,000. However, the start of the War doomed that potential sale.

Troye, described as being deeply religious and having a "refined, cultivated nature", (Fairman 320) was raised in London in a cultured environment by his parents who, for political reasons, were exiles from France.  His father was sculptor and painter Jean Baptiste de Troy; a brother, Charles Troye became a noted historical painter; a sister, Esperance Paligi, was a linquist and musician---the first woman admitted to the Paris Conservatory of Music.  Another sister, Marie Thirion was a sculptor, who lived in Verona, Italy.

Troye's father, encouraged by attention his son received from the royal family for sketches of Windsor Castle, enrolled Edward at age fourteen to study art.  Several years later, the father became involved in an engineering scheme, which led the family to go separate ways, and the son, Edward, left for the New World.

In 1828, he became a plantation bookkeeper in the West Indies, but he had bad health.  In 1831, he moved to Philadelphia and became staff illustrator for Sartain's Magazine.  As part of his job, he traveled in the Southern states including Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; New Orleans, Louisiana; Tennessee and Kentucky. In 1832, he exhibited his horse paintings at the Pennsylvania Academy, which launched his career as a portrait painter of prize racehorses.   It was written that "as a painter of famous horses, he became very popular, and there were few race horses of note that were not at some period painted by Troye." (Fairman 320)

One of his earliest commissions was for the owner of Woodburne Farms near Lexington, Kentucky, a town where he ultimately lived between 1837 and 1849.  In 1836, he worked at Magnolia plantation near Natchitoches, Louisiana, and in 1844, advertised as a portrait painter in New Orleans where he exhibited his race horse painting, Peytona, at the St. Charles Exchange.  A wealthy Louisiana patron of Troye's was Duncan Kenner, a sugar plantation and racing stable owner, for whom he painted six horse portraits.

From 1849 to 1855, Edward Troye lived in Mobile, Alabama, and served as Professor of Painting and French at Spring Hill College.  From 1855 to 1856, he traveled in the Near East with Alexander Keene Richards, a horse breeder from Georgetown, Kentucky; and there Troye did paintings of Arabian horses for Richards.  He also did a series of Holy Land and Arabia paintings, which he exhibited in New Orleans in 1857.  Included were The Dead Sea, Sea of Tiberius, and Jordan Bethabara.  He painted the originals on site and then did duplicates in his brother's studio in Antwerp, Belgium.  Troye presented the copies to Mr. Richards, who allowed Troye to exhibit them in Canada and the United States before the Civil War.  The paintings were ultimately given to Bethany College of Virginia.

From 1857 to 1869, Edward Troye lived primarily in Kentucky and then moved to Huntsville, Alabama.  He died five years later in Georgetown, Kentucky.  An illustrated book by him titled The Race Horses of America was published in 1867 and was intended to be the first of a series.  However, he never got beyond the first volume.

Sources:
Charles E. Fairman, Art & Artists of the Capitol of the United States of America
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
John Mahe, Encyclopedia of Artists in New Orleans

Biography from Red Fox Fine Art:
Excerpt from Animal and Sporting Artists in America by F. Turner Reuter, Jr. © 2008:

Edward Troye was born Edouard de Troy in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 12 July 1808. He was the son of French sculptor and painter Jean Baptiste de Troy, with whom he studied while they were living in London, England. In 1828 he went to the West Indies and worked for a while as a bookkeeper on a sugar plantation in Jamaica. He moved to Philadelphia, PA, in 1830 and went to work for Sartain's Magazine as an illustrator.

By 1832, however, he had established himself as a painter of thoroughbred horses, working by commission at several Southern plantations; he also painted purebred cattle and portraits of human sitters. Along with Alvan Fisher and John A. Woodside, Troye would soon become one of the most noted portraitist of the American equine; Troye's pupil, Henri DeLattre, soon followed. Troye also worked in Charleston, SC, as well as in Fluvanna County, VA, where he painted Bremo, the home of General John Hartwell Cocke.

In 1837 he was working on illustrations for a stud book for Kentucky horse breeders, but the book was never finished. His work also appeared in the sporting periodical The Spirit of the Times and in The American Turf Register, both published in New York City by William Trotter Porter. From 1840 to 1844 The Spirit of the Times issued The American Sporting Gallery, a series of fourteen steel engravings of well-known thoroughbred racehorses; ten of these were after paintings by Troye. He was based in Kentucky after his marriage in 1839, but was almost constantly traveling in order to keep up with his commissions. He had a farm briefly near Paducah, KY, but by late 1847 had tired of that project and began traveling again.

In 1849 Troye moved with his family to Mobile, AL, where he taught French and portraiture at Spring Hill College. He remained there until 1855, when he and Keene Richards, a wealthy horse breeder with an estate in Kentucky and a plantation in Louisiana, went on a trip to the Middle East in search of breeding stock. Troye painted several landscapes and urban scenes as well as numerous Arabian horses and Syrian cattle. He returned to the United States in January of 1857.

He began to work on commission again, much of the time in Kentucky. During the Civil War he traveled and painted in Europe for two years, then returned to Georgetown, KY, where he remained for much of the rest of the war. While in Kentucky, he had two students under his tutelage: Thomas J. Scott and William Thomas Eilerts. In 1866 he began work on a series of volumes entitled The Race Horses of America, containing prints of his portraits of the best known racehorses of the day. Only one volume was ever published, apparently due to insufficient subscriptions for the second. A complete signed and numbered set of the prints from the first volume are in the collection of the Pebble Hill Plantation Museum in Thomasville, GA. In 1870 he and his family moved to a farm near Owens Cross Roads, AL, which he had been given by his patron. He continued to travel, although not as constantly as he had earlier, making trips to Memphis and Nashville, both in Tennessee, as well as New York City and other cities, and summering in Kentucky.

Troye exhibited three works at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1832: Attack of a Lion upon a Horse, Bear Hunting and Attack and Portraits of a Celebrated Horse and His Rider. The Ohio Historical Society in Columbus has his individual portraits of American Eclipse and of Henry (each horse the respective entry in the North-South Race of 1823, in which Henry was defeated by American Eclipse in three four-mile heats. For further details on the race, see biography for Alvan Fisher).

In 1932 Melville "Ned" Stone's publishing firm, Sign of the Gosden Head, reproduced a limited-edition series of twenty hand-colored engravings after Troye's paintings entitled Famous American Thoroughbreds. The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame has Troye's American Eclipse, Reel, Allworthy, Glencoe, Fireball and Abdallah.

The Pebble Hill Plantation Museum has his portrait of Asteroid in Training. The New-York Historical Society in New York City has a portrait of American Eclipse as well as Sir Henry and Iola.

The Race Horses of America by Alexander Mackay-Smith is considered the definitive biography of Troye and includes a catalogue raisonné of the artist's work, extensively illustrated. Other institutions holding his work include the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond; the New York Jockey Club in New York City; the Louvre in Paris, France; the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, CT; the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY; The American Saddlebred Museum in Lexington, KY; the Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA; the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA; the Historic Columbia (SC) Foundation; the National Sporting Library in Middleburg, VA; and Bethany (WV) College, which has paintings from his 1855 trip to the Levant. In 2003 the Georgetown & Scott County Museum held an exhibition of Troye's works entitled "Edward Troye".

Troye died at Blue Grass Park, the home of Keene Richards in Georgetown, KY, on 25 July 1874.

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