Race Down Chester Street

Day 1: “On October 9, 2011, we unveiled the painting On to the Shenandoah! in Front Royal. This date was a significant one, the 75th anniversary of the Warren County Courthouse. The piece we revealed there depicted “Stonewall” Jackson in front of the courthouse during the Battle of Front Royal on May 23, 1862. I announced at that time that the painting would be the first in a set of two images pertaining to the battle.” – Mort Künstler

Preliminary sketches of Race Down Chester Street

Through these rough sketches you can see Mort’s creative process to a final composition. The last sketch is done on brown paper – Mort likes using it so he can use white chalk to show the lighting effect he is planning to create. The grid lines help him transfer the drawing to canvas.


Day 2:
“This second painting, The Race Down Chester Street, is the anticipated sequel. It is exactly the same size as the first piece, with many of the same cast of characters. This depiction, however, takes place about fifteen minutes later in the engagement. After being slowed down by Union resistance at the Courthouse (as depicted in “On to the Shenandoah!”) Jackson led his troops in a race to the bridge across the river in an attempt to cut off the Union troops who were in retreat towards Winchester. “ – Mort Künstler

Mort has already drawn up the canvas and has started to paint the sky.


Day 3:
“The composition for this follow-up gave me a perfect opportunity to paint historic Chester Street, almost in its entirety. I had painted 29 Chester Street once before in 1999 for a piece titled Covered with Glory. That painting featured the 26th North Carolina marching north, with the apartment building as a backdrop. In this new painting, I took a viewpoint as if I were standing in the middle of Chester Street looking south. In the very far background is the same apartment building, also known as the Boone.” – Mort Künstler

Now you can see the buildings along Chester Street in Front Royal – the very spot that Mort will be signing prints of this painting on Saturday, May 19th.

Day 4:
“The next building, closer to the viewer, on the left side of the street is the Balthus House with its distinctive windows on the third floor directly behind the flags. Closer still is the Balthus Barn with its blacksmith shops and stables. Across the road at 54 Chester Street is the Dorsey House, with the largest outside chimney in town. The nearest white building on the left is the venerable Ivy Lodge, an architectural gem surviving on the oldest street in town. Today it serves as a museum and headquarters of the Warren Heritage Society.  The executive director of that society, Patrick Farris, has been of immeasurable help in unearthing all of these facts.” – Mort Künstler

Mort has painted Jackson’s officers, as well as a number of infantry soldiers running along side them.


Day 5:        
“When composing the characters, I deliberately silhouetted “Stonewall” against the sky and used the perspective lines of the buildings to lead the eye to him.  The wagon tracks and puddles serve the same purpose, helping to create a strong center of interest. As the general and his staff race toward the bridge, Colonel Bradley T. Johnson, the officer on the extreme left, leads the 1st Maryland CSA on foot.” – Mort Künstler

You can see Jackson. All that remains for Mort to paint is the foreground.

Day 6:
“Although Jackson could not cut the Federal forces off at the bridge, he succeeded in chasing them right through Winchester, where he and his army were welcomed like conquering heroes. Perhaps the most significant aftereffect of Jackson’s victory at Front Royal was the decision by Abraham Lincoln to redirect 20,000 Union troops to the Valley in an effort to stop him. They would not.” – Mort Künstler












All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2018. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.