Texas and Baylor History Portrayed by Baylor's First Art Professor On Display in Martin Museum of Art

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    "The Battle of San Jacinto, 1901" (Image of an oil painting by Henry A. McArdle -- Photo by Bob Smith from a private collection in Midland, Texas)
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    "Portrait of Sam Houston" (Image of painting by Henry A. McArdle/Photo by David Wharton, courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University Libraries)
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    Baylor Regent and Art Supporter Cary Gray (Courtesy photo)
Aug. 28, 2014

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Contact: Terry Goodrich,(254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (Aug. 28, 2014)— As football fans flood into Baylor’s new $266 million McLane Stadium for its debut game this weekend — Baylor vs. opponent SMU — the two universities will be on the same team in a much smaller venue across the Brazos River.

The Baylor-SMU collaboration is the largest-ever exhibition of works by 19th-century Texas artist Henry A. McArdle — Baylor’s first art professor, whose works depict the state’s history, the Civil War and Baylor University’s founding. The free event continues through Sept. 21 at Baylor’s Martin Museum of Art.

At the exhibition — “Henry A. McArdle: Texas Painter, Patriot and Baylor Professor” — some of the works will be shown in public for the first time.

Baylor Regent Cary Gray — avid football fan and ardent history buff — and his wife, Amber Gray, are enthusiastic exhibit backers, providing some of the funding so that visitors can view art ranging from a depiction of the bloody battle at San Jacinto to portraits of five of Baylor’s presidents to sketches of Civil War soldiers and battles. There’s even a yesteryear version of a “selfie” — McArdle’s self-portrait in pencil.

“What prompted me thinking about this was the proximity of the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center (home of Martin Museum of Art) to the pedestrian bridge over to the stadium – and to the fact that McArdle’s style of art would appeal to football fans,” Gray said.

A Houston attorney and former Baylor Alumnus of the Year, Gray earned three degrees from Baylor — in business, accounting and law. Baylor is a “family affair” for his family, with his mother — Lanella Spinks Gray, BA ’54 — hosting the annual Baylor Line Camp for freshmen at Independence, Texas, the site of Baylor’s original campus.

“My mom is very involved in all things Independence Historical Society and all things Baylor,” Gray said. “Through her, I know of McArdle, who taught art at Independence, and I also knew that (SMU McArdle scholar) Sam Ratcliffe’s wife is a Baylor alum. I had a chance meeting with Sam about a year ago, and one thing led to another.

“Then there was the fact that SMU had McArdle’s huge painting of Sam Houston, and that SMU is our opponent the inaugural game. All of that coalesced in my mind, and I thought, ‘Why in the world wouldn’t we have an exhibit?’”

The seed for the exhibit of works by Irish immigrant McArdle was planted several years ago by Thomas Charlton, former director of Baylor’s The Texas Collection, and Dean of Libraries Pattie Orr along with Ratcliffe, head of SMU’s Bywaters Special Collection in the Hamon Arts Library. The idea took off after Ratcliffe gave a talk to Baylor alumni and supporters interested in the university’s early history. John Wilson, director of The Texas Collection, and Martin Museum Director Karin Gilliam joined in the show’s organization with Ratcliffe as guest curator.

On display are 22 oil paintings, 11 drawings and a diary, with works loaned from the Texas State Capitol, Baylor’s Texas Collection, SMU, the Nau Civil War Collection and private collections.

Among the images are paintings of Republic of Texas President Sam Houston (several of his eight children attended Baylor); a depiction of “Father of Texas” Stephen F. Austin that is usually housed in at the Texas Capitol; and paintings of Baylor co-founder and namesake Judge R.E.B. Baylor, Texas Gov. James Stephen Hogg, Louise Higgins Tryon (wife of Baylor co-founder William Tryon), Baylor art student Irene McNelly and members of Texas founding families.

“Lee at the Wilderness” — which Ratcliffe said will be shown publicly for the first time — is McArdle’s last Civil War study after serving as a cartographer under Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The painting shows the general restrained from going into battle by members of Hood’s Texas Brigade.

Wilson and Ratcliffe noted that McArdle researched historical details and strived for accuracy in his art. Some of Hood’s Brigade members served as models for the painted and verified aspects of the painting.

Ratcliffe, who began researching McArdle in connection with his doctoral dissertation 30 years ago, said that “The Battle of San Jacinto” — a smaller version of an earlier iconic painting — also will be shown publicly for the first time. It portrays the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution, led by Sam Houston and establishing Texas’ freedom from Mexico. The image includes fallen soldiers, soldiers brandishing swords, horses rolling their eyes in terror and such atmospheric effects as firelight and smoke.

Ratcliffe said this version of “The Battle of San Jacinto,” done in 1901, was not located until four years ago.

Baylor presidents painted by McArdle and commissioned by Baylor’s class of 1885 include Henry Lee Graves, Rufus Burleson, George Washington Baines Sr., William Carey Crane and Reddin Andrews Jr. Two paintings by Florence Steward, one of McArdle’s students at Baylor, also are in the exhibit.

“McArdle’s work tells the story of where Texas has been more than any other,” Gray said. “And this exhibit shows how important Baylor University was to the state.

“With the exhibit, we’ll be able to look across the river from the stadium and see where we were historically. You can’t know how far you’ve come unless you know where you’ve been.”

“Henry A. McArdle: Texas Painter, Patriot and Baylor Professor”

When: Through Sept. 21. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Martin Museum of Art in Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center, 60 Baylor Avenue on Baylor campus.

Admission: Free.

Panel discussion: 3 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, in Jones Theatre, next to Martin Museum in Hooper-Schaefer. Featured will be John Wilson, director of Baylor’s The Texas Collection; Sam Ratcliffe, Ph.D., McArdle scholar and head of Jerry Bywaters Special Collection at SMU; and exhibition lenders. A reception will follow from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

For more information: Call 254-710-1867 or 254-710-6390; or email martin_museum@baylor.edu

Museum website is www.baylor.edu/martinmuseum/

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

ABOUT MARTIN MUSEUM OF ART

The museum’s mission is one of education and service by bringing outstanding art exhibitions, speakers and guest artists to Baylor University and Central Texas. The museum serves as a valuable teaching tool for students and faculty. Exhibitions complement the courses of art history and studio art taught within Baylor’s department of art. The permanent collection consists of approximately 1,300 objects representing a variety of art that has been donated to or purchased by Baylor. The collection contains art by such well-known artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Kathe Kollwitz, Francisco de Goya, and Edouard-Leon Cortes, as well as approximately 300 paintings by famous watercolor artists, among them George Post, Phil Dike, Edgar Whitney and John Marin.

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