Saturday - 26 July 2014

Fresh British pictures on the US starting line

23 May 2014Written by Alex Capon

Two market-fresh British pictures consigned from a private American collection to Ahlers & Ogletree’s upcoming auction make a significant addition to the 1000-plus lots being offered at the Atlanta saleroom.

The racing scene by John Frederick Herring Senior (1795-1865) and the classical landscape by George Lambert (1700-65) come from a collection in Suwanee, Georgia, where they have been for decades. The will appear at the auction on June 6-8.

The Lambert landscape is a 2ft 4in x 3ft 5in (71cm x 1.04m) oil on canvas showing figures strolling on a path. It is estimated at $25,000-40,000.

The Herring Sr, however, which depicts a scene from one of the most famous races of the 19th century, may well prove the bigger highlight. The race, which became known as The Great Match, pitted two of the greatest thoroughbreds of the day against each other - Voltigeur and The Flying Dutchman - with 1000 sovereigns wagered on each side by their owners.

The contest took place at York on May 31, 1851, with a crowd of between 100,000 and 150,000, still a racecourse record.

Tight Finish

Voltigeur (pictured on the left) was owned by Lord Zetland and was the dual winner of the Epsom Derby and St Leger in 1850, while Lord Eglinton's The Flying Dutchman had won the Derby and St Leger in 1849 as well as the Ascot Gold Cup in 1850.

In the event it was a closely-fought race as Voltigeur, the younger horse, made the early running but The Flying Dutchman moved up in the final furlong before drawing level and ended up winning by a length.

This 2ft 1in x 3ft (64 x 91cm) oil on canvas was one of a number of paintings that were made to commemorate the race. While other artists who painted scenes included Harry Hall (1814-82), the large-scale depiction of the horses approaching the finish by Herring Sr is undoubtedly the best known. That work, now in the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket, was later both copied by other artists and made into a popular engraving.

This work up for sale in Atlanta, which is signed and dated 1851, provides another perspective on The Great Match, showing the horses paraded before the race in front of a large group of bowler-hatted observers.

The combination of artist, subject matter and the fact that both horses have the jockeys 'up', would all seem to stand in its favour. It is estimated at $90,000-120,000.

 

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