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    Description

    BUST OF CONFEDERATE GENERAL ALBERT SIDNEY JOHNSTON BY LEGENDARY ARTIST EDWARD VIRGINIUS VALENTINE. Offered here is a fabulous plaster bust of this great Civil War hero who died at Shiloh early in the war, the highest-ranking officer of either side killed during the conflict. It was completed in 1877 by Edward V. Valentine which is noted on the left side of the plinth. At the time when William Preston Johnston, Albert's son, commissioned this bust, he was living in Lexington, Virginia and on the faculty of Washington College (later Washington and Lee University). He was writing a biography of his father which was published originally in 1878 as The Life of Albert Sidney Johnston Embracing His Services in the Armies of the United States, the Republic of Texas, and the Confederate States (New York: D. Appleton, 1878). The steel engraved frontis illustration of the book was an artist's rendition of this bust.

    William Preston Johnston left Lexington in 1880 to assume the presidency of Louisiana State University. His daughter, Henrietta, who had married Virginia Congressman Henry St. George Tucker in 1877, remained in the area. In 1898, they purchased a large ante-bellum home in Lexington named Col Alto (Italian for "on the high" - referring to its original unobstructed view of the Blue Ridge mountains). The home remained in the family for many years; it was eventually willed to Washington and Lee University at which point the family possessions were removed. In the 1980s, a grandson, Col. Albert Sidney Johnston Tucker sold this bust to a local antique dealer. It was, in turn, sold to another antique dealer in Roanoke and then to a dealer in Confederate relics. In the meantime, it underwent professional restoration and paint removal which revealed its original mottled brown faux marble finish. A previous owner's extensive research in the Valentine Museum in Richmond leads us to believe that there were no other busts cast at the time this one was completed and that it this one remained in the Johnston family until sold in the '80s.

    Albert Sidney Johnston
    (1803-1862) was born in Washington, Kentucky though he lived much of his life in Texas, which he considered his home. He graduated from West Point in 1826 (eighth in his class) and was commissioned into the 2nd U.S. Infantry. He served in various posts and in 1834, after the death of his wife, he moved to Texas and enlisted in the Texas Army, fighting in the War of Independence against Mexico. He served, for a time, as Sam Houston's aide de camp. He would later fight bravely in the Mexican-American War under General Zachary Taylor who later, as president, appointed Johnston army paymaster. Service in the 1857 Utah War followed. When the Civil War broke out, Johnston was commander of the U.S. Army Department of the Pacific. At the news of Texas' secession, he resigned his U.S. Army commission and was appointed general and commander of the Western Department by his friend, Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He was seriously wounded at Shiloh by a bullet that severed his popliteal artery; at first, he refused to give up the fight but soon, he was taken to a small ravine by his men where he bled to death. His demise was a serious blow to the southern morale as Johnston was well loved and respected by all.

    Edward Virginius Valentine
    (1838-1930) was an American sculptor, born in Richmond, Virginia. He studied anatomy, drawing, and modeling to the extent available in Richmond before going to Europe in 1859 to study in Paris, Italy, and Berlin. Upon his return to Richmond, he opened a studio and exhibited his sculptures to good reviews. Besides his classical works, he accomplished several busts of southern heroes such Generals Beauregard, J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and, of course, this one of Johnston. Valentine sculpted the magnificent "Recumbent Statue" marble figure of Robert E. Lee in the Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University. His Sculpture Studio is currently open to public tour, one of only four surviving 19th century sculpture studios in the United States.

    Dimensions:
    The bust is 25" tall x 24.5" wide x 13" deep on a wooden plinth of 6.25" high by 11" in diameter at the base. Overall height is 31.25".

    Included with this lot is an extensive file including photocopies of correspondence between William Preston Johnston and Edward V. Valentine, as well as statements from a previous owner as to the chain of provenance. This magnificent life-size piece is in excellent condition and should have strong appeal to collectors of the works of Valentine, Texans, Kentuckians, as well as Civil War memorabilia collectors. Its wonderful display presence would make it the showpiece of any private or institutional collection.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2007
    1st Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,231

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    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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