Michener Art Museum

William B. T. Trego

BORN: September 15, 1858, Yardley, Pennsylvania
DIED: June 24, 1909, North Wales, Pennsylvania

The artist, William Trego, is a son of J.K. Trego, formerly of Philadelphia, a portrait and animal painter of much more than a local reputation, and one of the finest colorists in America. Of course the son has had from his childhood the advantage of the careful training of his father in all the technique of art, and his wonderful skill in drawing and coloring is, therefore, both hereditary and acquired.—The Cleveland Press (1879)

During the mid- and late nineteenth century, William Trego and his father, Jonathan, painted in and around Bucks County. William was the more brilliant and ambitious artist. Trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and in France, he specialized in history paintings. His achievement was extraordinary in part because he painted in spite of an almost complete paralysis of his hands, which was caused by early childhood illness or injury. Trego only had the use of his left thumb and forefinger. With those fingers, he placed the brush in his paralyzed right hand, then used the left hand to push the right across the canvas.

Perhaps because his paralysis limited his physical capacity, Trego painted scenes of action and glory, capturing in his art the vitality denied him in life. He favored military subjects, especially scenes from the Civil War. William's paintings are best known for their precise renderings of figures, charging horses, and military paraphernalia.

Visit The William T. Trego Exhibition and Catalogue Raisonné Project site.