Coming Home Series, Part 2 – Edward Troye and His Biographers

Last week we took a closer look at some of the amazing art that is on loan to the Museum exhibition, Faithfulness to Nature: Paintings by Edward Troye. This week we will explore the Library archive exhibition currently in the Forrest E. Mars, Sr. Exhibit Hall, Edward Troye and His Biographers: The Archives of Harry Worcester Smith and Alexander Mackay-Smith. On view through March 29, 2015, most of the materials in this exhibit are from the NSLM’s permanent collections.

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Edward Troye and His Biographers: The Archives of Harry Worcester Smith and Alexander Mackay-Smith, Forrest E. Mars, Sr. Exhibit Hall

Author and John H. Daniels Fellow Martha Wolfe spent several months elbow-deep in boxes, pulling file after file from the Harry Worcester Smith and Alexander Mackay-Smith archives to research and write an essay for the extensive Coming Home Series: Edward Troye (1808-1874) catalog. Wolfe wrote, “Here in the National Sporting Library & Museum archives, in boxes stacked nearly to the ceiling, is the story of three men whose lives spanned two centuries, whose interests overlapped and whose souls were kindred: artist Edward Troye (1808-1874); the indomitable sportsman Harry Worcester Smith (1864-1945); and scholar, chronicler and author Alexander Mackay-Smith (1903-1998).” Some of the treasures that Martha unearthed include: a photographic print of Edward Troye taken by W.R. Phipps, Lexington Kentucky, which the artist presented to his long-time friend and patron Alexander Keene Richards in 1872;…

Troye photo
Edward Troye, photographic print taken by W.R. Phipps, Lexington Kentucky, Harry Worcester Smith Archive, MC0041, Box 5, Harry W. Smith: Troye, Advertizements for horses Misc.

…the artist’s calling card. Two versions are known – this and another which reads “Edward Troye, Animal Painter.”;

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Edward Troye, Artist. calling card, Harry Worcester Smith Archive, MC0041, Box 5, Harry W. Smith: Troye, Advertizements for horses Misc.

…a negative print copy of pages from Troye’s obituary written in the flowing hand of A. Keene Richards on July 24, 1874. It begins, “Edward Troye the imminent Animal Painter died this morning of Pneumonia hastened by Heart disease…”;

Troye obit
negative print copy of pages from Edward Troye obituary by A. Keene Richards, July 24, 1874, Harry Worcester Smith Archive, MC0041, Box 5, Harry W. Smith: Troye, Advertizements for horses Misc.

…and an envelope written on by Harry Worcester Smith, the sporting scholar who spent over three decades tracking down and championing Edward Troye’s artwork. Worcester Smith had intended to write a book on the artist, but he never published one. “Who will finish or continue my accumulation of Thought Feeling and Art?” Worcester-Smith asked.

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Harry Worcester Smith envelope, Harry Worcester Smith Archive

During her research, Wolfe unearthed a letter that pointed to Alexander Mackay-Smith as the answer to this profound question. Carvel Collins, who in 1949 produced a portfolio of reproductions of Troye’s 19th century American racehorse engravings, wrote this endorsement to Alexander Mackay-Smith, ““Mr. Harry Worcester Smith on the day before he died gave me his compliments on your interest and skill in historical research and in sport.”

collins letter
Letter to Alexander Mackay-Smith from Dr. Carvel Collins, Assistant Dean, Harvard College, April 11, 1945, F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room [letter inserted in: The American Sporting Gallery: Portraits of American Horses from Spirit of the Times, 1839-1844, set of fourteen engravings with commentary by Carvel Collins]
Taking up the baton, Alexander Mackay-Smith became a noted scholar and a founder of the National Sporting Library in 1954. Almost three decades later, he spent three years researching Worcester Smith’s archive held at the NSL to complete the definitive biography and chronology, The Race Horses of America 1832 – 1872: Portraits and Other Paintings by Edward Troye, published by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1981.

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A view of the Library exhibition with Portrait of Harry Worcester Smith, 1928,  by Richard Benno Adam (German, 1873 – 1937), Gift of the Saddle & Sirloin Club, Chicago, on the left and Alexander Mackay-Smith, 1955, painted in 1999 by Wallace Wilson Nall (American, 1923 – 2003) after a painting by Jean Bowman (American, 1917 – 1994)  on the right.

Troye, Worcester Smith, and Mackay-Smith shared a passion for sport and art that lives and breathes in the Library and Museum’s Coming Home Series: Edward Troye (1808-1874) exhibitions. We invite you to be inspired as well.

– Claudia Pfeiffer, George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Curator of Art

P.S. Annie Johnson, the Editor of Antebellum Turf Times, came out to explore these two exhibitions in-depth in October and wrote an article incorporating her research on Edward Troye and Thoroughbred racing which has just been published in American Racehorse magazine. Read article

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