"The Charging Stallion"
Preparatory sketch for the monumental painting "The Treviño Charge" completed in 1897 (15 x 23 feet)
Victor Morelli Sánchez-Gil (Spain, 1860-1936)
Oil on canvas
51 1/4 x 32 (59 x 40 frame) inches
This is a preparatory sketch for the monumental painting "The Battle of Treviño," winner of the third place medal of the National Exhibition of Fine Arts of 1897 (Exposiciones Nacionales de Bellas Artes) held annually in Madrid, Spain. It was then acquired for the museum at the Ministry of War for the Cavalry Academy of Valladolid; Valladolid, Spain where it still resides. The painting is a colossal canvas measuring 4.5 by 7 meters; 32 square meters of canvas (14.7 x 22.9 feet; 337 square feet).
"The Treviño Charge" or "Treviño Battle," additionally referred to as the "Defense of Colonel Contreras," was a heroic battle that took place during the Third Carlist War (1872–1876). (The Carlists, a separatist movement in the Basque region, Catalonia and elsewhere, were alternative claimants to the Spanish throne with belief in an autocratic monarchy.) The battle occurred on July 7, 1875 when the King's Lancers Regiment, commanded by Colonel Contreras, with only 98 horses and lancers in the regiment remaining, attacked the Carlists and their Third Battalion of Navarra with intention of liberating the city of Vitoria from the rebel insurgents.
Victor’s father, Vicenzo Morelli Bartolami, was of Italian descent and an opera singer. Sánchez-Gil’s mother, Pastora Sánchez-Gil Taboada, from La Coruña, was a fervent music fan and Sánchez-Gil was a gifted pianist, violinist, known for his fine baritone voice.
In 1878 Víctor entered the military as an infantryman and he progressed quickly to the rank of ensign, being later attached to the Toledo Infantry Academy. He was then transferred to Barcelona where he studied drawing and painting in the workshop of Jose Serra Porsón. Initially, Victor enrolled with the intention of increasing his income, ultimately, however, painting ended up being his greatest passion.
When Victor was on assignment in Madrid, he continued his studies at the Circulo de Bellas Artes where he was also part of a group of copyists at the Museo Nacional del Prado. He was then noted for his excellent skills. Sánchez-Gil was also able to spend time traveling in Italy.
By 1887 Victor became a first lieutenant in the Civil Guard with the rank of active colonel and honorary inspector general conferred upon him when he was transferred to reserve status.
In his last years of military service in Madrid, Victor Morelli Sánchez-Gil was an assistant to General Palacio, General Director of the Civil Guard, giving private painting classes to the General's daughters. Sánchez-Gil eventually achieved the rank of Colonel and upon retirement in 1931, he was promoted to Honorary Brigadier General.
Victor Morelli Sánchez-Gil’s work is abundant though not fully catalogued. His fame is mainly due to his portraits of Spanish generals and his excellent battle paintings nearly all of which today can be found in Spanish museums: The Army Museum, the Ministry of the Army, Valladolid Cavalry Academy, the Ávila Quartermaster Academy, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Military Museum of La Coruña, his hometown. The Ministry of War was his best client, purchasing numerous of Sánchez-Gil best paintings.
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