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New Jersey Remembered: A Seventy-fifth Anniversary; Philadelphia Collection 75; October 2005
 
 
painting
 
Charles Spencer Humphreys
(1818–1880)
Jersey Blue
Oil on canvas, 22 1/4 × 30 1/4 inches
Signed and inscribed at lower left: “Chas. S. Humphreys./Camden. N.J.”; inscribed at lower center: “JERSEY BLUE”  

(continued from plate 11)

Jersey Blue is a traditional horse portrait in which the subject stands alone in the foreground, posing rather self-consciously against a hilly, verdant landscape where a race is taking place on an oval dirt track. Humphreys represented this unidentified site in great detail, and a sign above a wooden structure has the miniscule inscription, “REFRESHMENTS/LAGER BEER.” The horse’s name alludes to one of New Jersey’s historic state colors. In 1779, during the American Revolution, Commander-in-Chief George Washington directed that the uniforms for the regiments of the New Jersey Continental Line should be dark or Jersey blue faced with buff, colors that until then had been reserved for generals and their aides-de-camp. He probably made this selection because these colors were emblematic of the Netherlands and New Jersey originally had been settled by the Dutch. The following year, when the Continental War Officers in Philadelphia ordered that each regiment should have a state flag in addition to the United States flag, they specified that the ground had to be of the same color as the uniform’s facing, and these became the colors of the New Jersey flag. The Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey decreed Jersey blue and buff to be the official colors of the state flag on March 11, 1896. The inscription that identifies the horse at the bottom of the composition is appropriately painted in Jersey blue.

Notes

1. For biographical information on Humphreys, see Howard R. Kemble and Arthur D. Pierce, “A Distinguished Camden Artist,” The Bulletin of the Camden County Historical Society, vol. 4 (May 1961), pp. 141. For a recent discussion of his career, see Deborah Chotner, Julie Aronson, Sarah D. Cash, and Laurie Weitzenkorn, American Naive Paintings, The Collections of the National Gallery of Art, Systematic Catalogue (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1992), pp. 213–15.

2 . For a history of the sport, see Philip A. Pines, The Complete Book of Harness Racing (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1970).

3 . According to a note in the Schwarz Gallery files, these results are recorded in William T. Chester, Chester’s Complete Trotting and Pacing Record, Containing Summaries of All Races Trotted or Paced in the United States or Canada from the Earliest to the Close of 1883 (New York: William T. Chester, 1884).



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