The McArdle Notebooks > The Battle of San Jacinto

The Artist

Seth Shepard to L.L. Foster, December 12, 1888

In August 1888, McArdle's friend, attorney and legislator Seth Shepard, wrote on the artist's behalf to L.L. Foster, Commissioner of Insurance, Statistics, and History. Foster was coordinating the purchase of paintings for the new Texas capitol. At this time, McArdle offered his painting The Settlement of Austin's Colony for sale to the state for $3500 negotiable. The August letter reveals that McArdle was allowing the painting to be exhibited at the capitol building for free, and that the painting was sitting on the floor rather than hanging on the wall.

By December 1888, McArdle had apparently become desperate for money. Seth Shepard wrote to Foster again about the artist's plight, including a fragment of a letter which McArdle had sent him. By this time, McArdle had lowered his price to $2000 negotiable. In his letter, McArdle refers to his rival artist William Henry Huddle, who had recently secured payment of $7000 for his work painting the governor's portraits for the capitol rotunda.

The luckless McArdle failed to sell the painting to the state. In 1901, it was purchased by James DeShields, a well-known art collector, and finally bought by the state of Texas in 1928 along with the battle paintings and the notebooks.

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Seth Shepard to L.L. Foster, 1888

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Legislative Department Board to Select Historical Paintings for the Capitol, 1888, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: April 27, 2016