Stagecoachc. 1881 by
Henry, Edward Lamson 1841-1919
This painting represents another moment in mountain stage travel in the 1880s, no doubt like Changing Horses inspired by the artist's experience in the Shawangunk Mountains of southeastern New York. Humorously Henry shows the perils of this mode of transportation. As the coach travels along an unpaved road with a valley (visible in the upper right) far below, the passengers atop the stage look nervously at the sheer drop. A lady peeps out from the coach, apprehensive about the incline, but the driver is ready with his whip and his foot on the break.
The vehicle is a Concord coach, an early nineteenth-century improvement over older vehicles. Not only was it more stylish in appearance, but the body, hung on thoroughbraces, was better equipped to absorb the shock of bumpy roads like the one depicted here. Even so, each jolt or jostle on such a coach would cause a forward motion like a violently pitching boat. Despite the luxury of its silk plush upholstery, passengers were cramped when the coach was filled to capacity. Not surprisingly, the most highly prized seat was the one next to the driver.
Henry frequently painted horses, and those in this painting demonstrate how skillfully he did so. They are a result of intense, first-hand study; each is shown from a different viewpoint and convincingly foreshortened.
Size (inches): 27 1/8 x 27 7/8
Medium: Oil on Canvas