Roman Chariot Race

Stephen Ferris collaborated with his brother-in-law Peter Moran in 1875 to make this large 22 x 57cm reproductive etching of Alexander von Wagner’s stirring painting Chariot Race in the Circus Maximus, Rome in the Presence of the Emperor Domitian. The scale of the etching required an oversized copper plate, which was difficult to find. Ferris and Moran fabricated one from the bottom of a copper boiler. According to one source, Moran, who would later specialize in farm animals, etched the horses, the archway in the background, and the roadway. Ferris, later known for his portraits, etched the figures and the rest of the architecture. At the time this etching was one of the largest made in the United States. The print was well received; the New York Times noted: “Of the style of execution we can speak only in the highest terms.”
Alexander von Wagner (1838–1919), a Hungarian artist active in Germany, also enjoyed considerable success when he exhibited the painting Chariot Race in Europe in 1872. Wagner painted other versions; one was shown to critical acclaim at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. The Manchester Art Gallery in England owns a version, which may be seen on its website. It was not unusual at that time for an artist to paint several replicas of a popular subject in different sizes.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
graphic artist
Ferris, Stephen James
original artist
graphic artist
Moran, Peter
J. C. McCurdy & Co.
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
image: 22 cm x 57 cm; 8 11/16 in x 22 7/16 in
sheet: 46 cm x 71.5 cm; 18 1/8 in x 28 1/8 in
Place Made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Horse Racing
Ferris Collection
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Graphic Arts
Ferris Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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