Roman Chariot Race

Roman Chariot Race

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Stephen Ferris collaborated with his brother-in-law Peter Moran in 1875 to make this large 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 work required an oversized copper plate, which was difficult to find. The young artists, who were new to the etching medium, fabricated their plate from the bottom of a copper boiler, according to H. R.Wray's 1893 Review of Etching in the United States. Moran, who would specialize in animal subjects, etched the horses, the archway in the background, and the roadway. Ferris, known for his portraits, etched the figures and the rest of the architecture. This etching was one of the largest made in the US at the time. 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 versions of a popular subject in different sizes.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Etching On Chine Colle
Date made
graphic artist
Ferris, Stephen James
original artist
graphic artist
Moran, Peter
J. C. McCurdy & Co.
Place Made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
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
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Jean Leon Gerome Ferris
Horse Racing
See more items in
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Ferris Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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