Skaters in the Bois de Boulogne monogrammed, inscribed and dated 'CWC Paris 186[9?]' (lower right) and inscribed 'For Mrs. W.H. Trapmann / by Conrad W. Chapman / Paris 186[9?]' (on reverse) oil on panel 7 3/4 x 10 1/2in
PROVENANCE: The artist Mrs. William H. Trapmann, Liverpool, 186[9?]
Conrad Wise Chapman was born in Washington, D.C. in 1842. Nearly eight years later, his father, John Gadsby Chapman, moved the family to Rome where Chapman spent the remainder of his childhood. Despite living most of his life in Europe, Chapman felt a strong connection and loyalty to the American South where he was born. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he took passage to America against his family's wishes and enlisted in the 3rd Kentucky Regiment of the Confederate army at the age of nineteen.
Chapman fought in a few campaigns including the Siege of Vicksburg, but in 1863, Chapman received a letter informing him that his mother was ill. He requested a furlough to return to Italy, and it was granted to him. On the return trip to Europe, he initially stopped in Liverpool where he likely first met Mr. and Mrs. Trapmann. Originally from the South, the Trapmanns were a newly married couple who went on their honeymoon to Liverpool in 1860 and decided to remain abroad and avoid the war. For the next couple of years, Conrad "was a frequent houseguest of the Trapmanns at their home in Derwent Square, where he was provided a 'little studio' to work on his extended stays in the city" (Bassham, Conrad Wise Chapman, p.172).
Chapman remained in Europe from 1864 to 1865 until his mother had fully recovered. He returned to Europe again in 1867 and remained until 1874. During this period, on one of his trips to Paris, Chapman painted the present work of the Bois de Boulogne. Chapman developed a strong friendship with Mrs. Trapmann and a lengthy correspondence with her. Chapman likely presented this work to her as a thank you for her constant support of him and his artistic pursuits.
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