Marion Crossing the Peedee
Oil on canvas
50 1/8 x 74 3/8 in.
signed and dated l.c.: W Ranney \ 1850
[removed] printed paper label: LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART \ Los Angeles, California \ No.: L. 75.17[typewritten] \ ARTIST: William Ranney (American, 1813-1857) [typewritten] \ TITLE: Marion Crossing the Peedee. [typewritten and underlined] 1850 [typewritten] \ MEDIUM: Oil on fabric. [typewritten] \ Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Franz [typewritten] \ SOURCE: Stenzel [typewritten] \ Size: 50 x 74" (127.0 x 188.0 cm.) [typewritten] \ 76l49Z - Cdb 8-69
[removed] typewritten label: Taken From \ Cyclopedia Of American \ Biography \ ---- \ W. Ranney, Artist, born in Middletown, Conn., \ May 9, 1813, died in West Hoboken, N. J. November \ 18, 1857. The name that was given him at baptism \ was William Tylee but he never use [sic] the latter. \ Ath [sic] the age of thirteen he was taken to Fayetville, \ N. C. by his uncle where he was apprenticed to a \ tinsmith but seven years later he was studying draw- \ ing in Brooklyn. When the Texan struggle began \ Ranney enlisted and during the campaign became ac- \ quainted with many trappers and guides of the west. \ After his return home he devoted himself mainly to \ [torn] aying their life and habit. Among his works \ [torn] 's First View of Kentucky", "On The Wing", \ [torn] Mission To The Indians", (1847) \ [torn] ry, \ [torn] 's
[attached to frame] label: Tracy & Newkerk of 124 Grand Street, New York
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
During the 1850s, as conflicts over slavery escalated in the United States, history became a battleground. Northerners and Southerners fought over the memory of the Revolutionary War, with pro-slavery writers touting the importance of the Southern enslavers who fought the British. Amid this culture war, Ranney completed this large history painting showing the forces of General Francis Marion, a South Carolina enslaver who led a 1780 campaign against the British.
Ranney’s personal views on slavery are unknown, but his picture underscores Marion’s reliance on Black labor: At the center, a Black man—identified as Oscar Marion, the general’s enslaved attendant—rows the barge across the Peedee River. Posed in this way, Oscar is essential to the action, yet he remains subordinate to his White counterparts. However, it is not obvious whether this is a visual statement for or against slavery. Ranney unveiled this work in New York City, a hotbed of sectional tensions; perhaps he wanted his picture to appeal to pro- and anti-slavery viewers without appearing to favor one side.
—Text taken from the Carter Handbook (2023).