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 William Brooke Thomas Trego  (1858 - 1909)



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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: historical-war, genre, animal

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Ad Code: 3
William Brooke Thomas Trego
from Auction House Records.
Cavalry Charge of the Union Army
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The son of the portrait painter Jonathan Trego, William Trego was born in Yardley, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  At the age of two, he was stricken with paralysis, probably due to polio, but in spite of this handicap he went on to become a noted painter of military subjects.  When William was sixteen, the Tregos moved to Detroit, where the elder Trego established a studio at which William studied.

William's career was launched when the twenty-year old artist exhibited and sold his painting titled The Charge of Custer at Winchester at the Michigan State Fair.  With the proceeds from the sale, he moved to Philadelphia to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and study under Thomas Eakins.  He won the first Toppan Prize in 1882 at the Academy, and in 1883 was the top entrant for the Temple Competition.

In 1887 Trego set sail for Paris, where he took classes from Tony Robert-Fleury and William Adolphe Bouguereau at the Academy Julian.  He exhibited battle subjects at the Paris Salon in 1889 and 1890.  Back in Philadelphia in 1890, Trego was hailed as "the American Detaille" for his many military paintings.

From about 1886 until he died in 1909, William Trego lived in North Wales and painted in the studio then behind his home. The fields near his home in that era served as background for many paintings, and he often used North Wales residents and horses as models for his battle scenes and other works during that period.  He also did many portraits of North Wales residents.

On September 20, 2008, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission joined with the North Wales Historic Commission in dedicating the official Pennsylvania State Historical Marker recognizing William B.T. Trego.  It is now in place, curbside, at 509 East Montgomery Avenue where Trego lived with his father and stepmother.  His studio was in the rear of the property, but sadly no longer remains.  The marker also mentions his artist father, Jonathan K. Trego.  It reads:

WILLIAM B.T. TREGO (1858 -1909)
Widely recognized as an accomplished historical painter, Trego overcame the disability of paralysis in both hands.  Notable works include March to Valley Forge (1883) and Rescue of the Colors (1899).  He lived here with his father and mentor, artist Jonathan K. Trego.

NOTE: Trego's birthdate is stated as 1858 when most sources quote 1859. THe North Wales Historic Commission and the State Commission feel that the 1858 date is more accurate according to several primary sources such as census records and his own written material.

Source: Phyllis Byrne, Chairman, North Wales Historic Commission

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