There are no markers for this video.
00:00:12So, this is "Perry's Victory" by William Henry Powell,
00:00:17and William Henry Powell is an Ohio artist.
00:00:20And he is really one of the first Ohio artists
00:00:22who achieved national recognition.
00:00:24This was the first painting commissioned by the legislature
00:00:29for their new statehouse.
00:00:32Interestingly enough, something I didn't know that Gregg Dodd just
00:00:35told me, is that they had hung it only a very short time before
00:00:39Lincoln laid in state here, so this painting was in the Rotunda and
00:00:45it was in this location in the Rotunda when Lincoln's body
00:00:49was laid in state.
00:00:50So, now, history painting today, I think- in the beginning of the
00:00:5521st century, and throughout much of the 20th century, hasn't had the
00:00:58respect that, historically, history painting did get.
00:01:03Coming out of the Renaissance, I want you to know that history
00:01:05painting was considered to be the most important kind of painting.
00:01:09Religious and history painting was considered the, your top artists,
00:01:14the very best artists of each generation would take on these
00:01:17subjects, because what you were doing was you were imagining an
00:01:21important event, either religious or historical that took place, that
00:01:26affected hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, of people.
00:01:30And so, you wanted your best artists doing that.
00:01:33And we forget that legacy, and it's a great tradition
00:01:36that continues today.
00:01:38Photography sort of, kind of bumped it over to the side, I think, a
00:01:41little bit, but again, photography has a very different tradition
00:01:44than someone imagining a moment in time.
00:01:47So one of the things that this is about,
00:01:50of course - do we all know this?
00:01:51This is about the War of 1812.
00:01:53Which is really important, we are still fighting the British- in 1812
00:01:55we are still fighting the British, and this is the battle, Perry's
00:02:01battle, that established that the Americans
00:02:04would control the Great Lakes.
00:02:08So the control of the Great Lakes was directly related to our control
00:02:11of westward expansion in the country.
00:02:13So beating the British in this battle was incredibly important.
00:02:18So now one of the things that an artist has to do, when an artist
00:02:20thinks about this, a battle - you know, lots of things happen in a
00:02:23battle, so how do you decide what quintessential moment
00:02:27really embodies that battle?
00:02:31Now, needless to say, we want Perry, who is standing there pointing
00:02:36at the flag and pointing at the British,
00:02:38we want Perry to look pretty heroic, don't we?
00:02:41We're I mean, this is, all paintings and works of art have a point of
00:02:44view, and if you don't think they do, you're fooling yourself.
00:02:47I've got to tell you that.
00:02:48So, this was not painted - you can imagine, if Perry was painted by
00:02:51the British, he would be looking not-so-heroic, right?
00:02:55But we're painting from the American side, we want it to be heroic,
00:02:59and, because he's our champion in this battle, and he is very much
00:03:04the champion of this battle.
00:03:05This battle took place in September, actually of 1813, the War of
00:03:091812 but this is 1813, and what happened to Perry is that he lost a
00:03:15tremendous number of men in this battle.
00:03:17About four-fifths of the crew were either horribly wounded
00:03:22or killed in this battle.
00:03:24And he, of course, like most of the battles between the American and
00:03:26the British, the British should have won, they really should have,
00:03:29their general was, or their admiral (generals are on the land),
00:03:32Barclay, and he should have, Barclay really should have beaten him.
00:03:38There's a couple of things that happened.
00:03:40Really, the, there was an incredible bit of weather help, I mean,
00:03:46talking about having the wind at your back, at a critical moment in
00:03:50the battle, Perry, the wind shifted, and Perry was able to get the
00:03:54wind at the back of the American fleet which really helped him
00:03:59because the British had long-guns and there Americans really had only
00:04:03little short-guns, and they couldn't shoot nearly as far, so he
00:04:05needed the wind on his side.
00:04:08So the artist studied- artists when they do paintings like this,
00:04:11really study all the dimensions of the battle, and outcome, and
00:04:14everything- so what the artist chose was this very important moment
00:04:19in which, actually, Perry lost his- the name of the ship, that, your
00:04:26headship, what's the headship called?
00:04:29Your the head of your fleet?
00:04:31The flagship!
00:04:32His flagship went down, so the U.S.S. Lawrence went down,
00:04:37and he made this bold discovery, he got in a little, tiny boat
00:04:40with a handful of men, and rowed over to the U.S.S. Niagara
00:04:44so he could continue the battle.
00:04:46So, this is this moment where he has had to abandon his flagship and
00:04:51move to another ship to be able to lead the battle.
00:04:55The other thing that I think is notable about this painting, you
00:04:59know, you've got the, you've not only got the idea of the wind.
00:05:04Look at the flag, you've got the wind idea that is very important in
00:05:07the battle, and you've got all of these men looking up to their hero,
00:05:11looking to Perry leading them, you've got the smoke of the battle and
00:05:15the haze of the battle.
00:05:17One of the interesting things is that there are African-American
00:05:19figures in this boat, and I think a lot of people - there's
00:05:23particularly one, the man in the red shirt with his hand up in the
00:05:28back of the boat, is definitely an African-American- and there were
00:05:32ten to twenty percent of Perry's crew, were African-American,
00:05:38and they actually were honored because of
00:05:41the difference they made in this battle.
00:05:43And I think it's a part, you know, you start to think about
00:05:47African-American soldiers in the Civil War, but actually, the
00:05:50commitment goes all the way back to the beginning of the nation, and
00:05:53they, African-American crewmen, played a huge role in this battle,
00:05:59and in the winning of this battle, and I think it's very interesting
00:06:01that the artist included that as part of the historic record.
00:06:06So you're looking at how we now imagine this battle
00:06:08because of this artist.
Note : Transcripts are compiled from uncorrected captions