Paintings of horse racing greats up for auction
PUBLISHED: 10:51 15 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:25 15 September 2020
Paintings of some of the most famous horses in the history of British racing are set to go under the hammer.
Works by leading British sporting artists including Peter Tillemans, Francis Sartorious, John Wootton, Thomas Spencer and John Nost Sartorious are being offered up for sale for the first time in more than 100 years at Cheffins Autumn Sale on October 1.
The 20 paintings make up the core of a private collection initially begun in 1849 by John Dunn Gardner (1811 1903) of Denston Hall in Suffolk and later added to by his son Algernon Dunn Gardner (1853 1929).
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Cheffins partner Jonathan Law said it was “an increasingly rare opportunity to acquire fine sporting art long held in private hands of some of the most important and influential horses in the history of racing”.
Cheffins hopes the sale will attract interest from buyers around the world, as the collection features works by leading artists of the genre from the 18th and 19th century.
A highlight of the sale is a portrait of the stallion The Bloody Shouldered Arabian by John Wootton (1682 1764), with an estimated sale value of £30,000-50,000.
The colt – brought from Aleppo to England between 1719 and 1720 – was acquired by Edward Harley (1689 1741) and stabled at Welbeck Abbey. He became one of most coveted sires of the period.
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The sale will also include a small double portrait of Eclipse and Bucephalus by John Nost Sartorious (1759 1828), valued at around £4,000-6,000.
Eclipse was considered the greatest racehorse of all time and was the great, great grandson of The Darley Arabian, one of three dominant foundation sires of modern thoroughbred bloodstock.
Eclipse won all 18 races he was entered in and in 1771 – after a racing career of just 17 months – he was retired to stud because the lack of competition led to no one betting on rival horses.
Two works by John Wootton – one of a bay racehorse and one of a chestnut racehorse – also feature in the auction, with estimates of £40,000 - £60,000 and £70,000 - £100,000 respectively.
Another painting featured is by the Anglo Flemish sporting and topographical artist Peter Tillemans (1684-1734) of George I on Newmarket Heath in 1722, with an estimated worth of £40,000 - 60,000.
It is believed to have been commissioned by The Honorable Charles Colyear, later 2nd Earl of Portmore (1700-1785), who features in the painting riding alongside the king in a red coat. Flying Childers, led by a groom, is presented to the King for his inspection. The town of Newmarket features in the distance beyond the royal party.
Additional highlights of the collection include a picture of Babraham by Thomas Spencer, a painting of Waxy by Francis Sartorious, Matchem by William Shaw and Smolensko by John Nost Sartorious.
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