New Sporting Art in Period Style: The Historic Horse, CHISHOLM GALLERY, LLC


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During the Eighteenth Century, English horsemen brought their native mares to Eastern stallions and created the finest breed of horse in the world: the Thoroughbred. For racing, foxhunting, or the art of dressage, nothing could surpass this elegant new breed. Delighted English aristocrats commissioned the best artists of their day to paint portraits of their prized stock.

More than two centuries later, these pictures are among the best-loved in sporting art. They are treasured in museum galleries, guarded in palace collections, and admired at the historic stud farms of the US and UK. Owning one of these rarities of equine art indicates an elevated level of taste, knowledge, and accomplishment. They very seldom appear on the art market.

Today The Historic Horse offers original equine portraits in the manner of the eighteenth century. These paintings are not copies of existing art; they are new works created with the tools, methods, and media of earlier eras. They show the horse as our ancestors knew and loved it--a force of Nature, beautiful, sensitive, and intelligent.

Published in: Design, Sports, Education
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New Sporting Art in Period Style: The Historic Horse, CHISHOLM GALLERY, LLC

  1. 1. A Gentleman with his favourite Hounds in an American Landscape Oil on panel, 18” x 24” 1800 USD In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, hunt staff did not always wear what we have come to regard as typical red coats; they often wore the buff, brown, or black coats that were their daily work attire around the stables. The lighting and landscape effects of this work are similar to George Stubbs’s 1773 work The Earl of Carlisle’s favourite chestnut Horse, ridden byWilliam Shutt, his Groom. However, the physical location is reminiscent of Eastern seaboard rivers.
  2. 2. Lady Humston’s Chestnut Mare, running in a Field Oil on canvas, 18” x 24” 1500 USD Prior to the development of sequential photography in the late nineteenth century, the movements of the horse at the gallop were not understood, and artists typically depicted running horses with their fore- and hindlegs spread in the classic “rocking- horse stance”. Lady Louise Amalie Humston was a mid-eighteenth-century horse breeder and student of the turf who contributed to the development of the Thoroughbred.
  3. 3. Morocco, a Horse of Barbary, being dress’d Oil on linen 18” x 24” 1500 USD Though we think of eighteenth-century horsemanship as being principally concerned with the hunt and racecourse, the art of classical dressage was still popular in preparing riding or exhibition horses for the aristocracy. As the Thoroughbred stud-book was not closed, horses were still imported from the Middle East to cross with native mares. Artists like Stubbs occasionally portrayed horses performing the piaffe, levade, canter-pirouette, and other movements of
  4. 4. classical dressage. This scene depicts an imported stallion of the Berber type in the levade in hand. Mr Greene Creighton maneging a chestnut Horse at Sunset Oil on canvas 18” x 24” 1500 USD It appears that in eighteenth-century England the verb “to manege”, meaning to train in a covered school, was a way of describing dressage. This Arab-type horse is learning the canter-pirouette, a fairly advanced dressage movement.
  5. 5. A bay Horse trotting with a pied Hound Oil on linen 16” x 20” 1200 USD A long hindquarter and extremely long cannon bones were admired as signs of refinement during the eighteenth century. Again, the hound is shown in the stretched rocking-horse stance, as period artists were unsure how to suggest running.
  6. 6. Colonel Massie’s bay Colt Lion, led by a Groom Oil on canvas 20” x 24” 1500 USD The structure of the bridle in this scene is typical of those used in the eighteenth century: its bit is lacking the ring that today keeps the snaffle from being pulled sideways through the horse’s mouth, and instead relies on a short shank and a tiny ring. There is no noseband; they did not come into wide use until riders learned that they have a protective effect on the horse’s jaw and can help maintain bit function. This young stallion has an exaggeratedly fine head and perilously long legs, which were much admired. In his early career Stubbs often painted animals as their owners wanted them painted, without much reference to anatomic correctness; later, when he was successful and could decline commissions, he painted with more realism, as he wished.
  7. 7. Roseberry, a Stallion of Cleveland Oil on canvas 18” x 24” 1500 USD The Cleveland Bay was developed in Yorkshire, where an upstanding breed of light draft and riding horse was required. They are tall, strongly built animals, invariably bay with only a star permitted, and the stallions often have 9” bone. Magnificently suited for hunting, eventing, dressage, coaching, or hacking, endowed with a tranquil position but enough speed to hunt first-flight, the Clevelands have nonetheless at times been quite endangered as a breed.