Fletcher Harper, MFH (1874-1963) was Master of the Orange County Hunt for 33 seasons, from 1920 to 1953. In 1900, the Hunt was originally organized in and named for Orange County, New York, but was relocated to Fauquier County, Virginia, in 1903. A set of Orange County Hunting Diaries from 1936 to 1969 are held in the NSLM archives.

Fletcher Harper, MFH, National Sporting Library & Museum Photographs Collection.
Fletcher Harper, MFH, National Sporting Library & Museum Photographs Collection.

Mr. Harper was married to Harriet Wadsworth (1881-1975), whose father, James W. Wadsworth was cousin of William Austin Wadsworth, the Master and founder of the famous Genesee Valley Hunt in New York. Mrs. Harper rode sidesaddle on the off side, due to an injury.

Mrs. Fletcher Harper, photograph by Ira Haas, NY. National Sporting Library & Museum photographs collection.
Mrs. Fletcher Harper, photograph by Ira Haas, NY. National Sporting Library & Museum Photographs Collection.

Together, the Harpers worked tirelessly to open the land around The Plains, Virginia to foxhunting. Fletcher became renowned as a thorough and attentive Master, carefully repairing all damage to property from hunts and keeping in close contact with the farming community. Mr. Harper is generally credited with putting Orange County on the map as a premiere American hunt.

“For the past seven years Mr. Harper has carried on the traditions of the Hunt in the most able manner, his tact and great charm working wonders with those landowners who were sometimes difficult to deal with. Mr. Harper found that the greatest evil with which he had to contend was wire, and this difficulty he has successfully combated by paneling the country in some places and putting in ‘chicken coops’ in others, until he now has as rideable a territory as could be wished for.”

From Hunting in the United States and Canada, by A. Henry Higginson and Julian Ingersoll Chamberlain, 1928.

Along with George L. Ohrstrom, Sr., Alexander Mackay-Smith, and Lester Karow, Harper founded the National Sporting Library in 1954 as a public resource on equestrian and field sports. Mr. Harper served as President of NSL from its founding in 1956 until his death in 1963. In 1972, Mrs. Harper donated a painting of Mr. Harper to the NSL. This painting is a study for a finished portrait completed in 1931.

Ellen Gertrude Emmett Rand (American, 1875-1941) Study for Portrait of Fletcher Harper (1874-1963), c. 1931, oil on canvas, 45 x 34 ½ inches. National Sporting Library & Museum, gift of Mrs. Fletcher Harper, 1972.
Ellen Gertrude Emmett Rand (American, 1875-1941) Study for Portrait of Fletcher Harper (1874-1963), c. 1931, oil on canvas, 45 x 34 ½ inches. National Sporting Library & Museum, gift of Mrs. Fletcher Harper, 1972.

The artist, Ellen Emmett Rand, was an accomplished portrait painter who studied at The Art Students League of New York with William Merritt Chase and Kenyon Cox. She is known for her portraits of artists, writers, socialites and politicians, including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Fletcher Harper Memorial Trophy: Foxhunters Timber Race, sterling silver, diameter: 12 inches, Collection of Orange County Hounds, on loan to the National Sporting Library & Museum
Fletcher Harper Memorial Trophy: Foxhunters Timber Race, sterling silver, diameter: 12 inches, Collection of Orange County Hounds, on loan to the National Sporting Library & Museum

After his retirement as Master, Harper assisted Orange County in its hound breeding program until his death in 1963. He and Harriet are buried at the Georgetown Cemetery, Church of Our Savior, Broad Run, Virginia.

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At the end of this month, the NSLM will be opening an exhibition of works by American illustrator Paul  Brown (1893 – 1958).  If there was ever an artist that horse people really love, it’s this one! Brown is known for his talent at depicting horses in action –  capturing movement, emotion, and personality.  Our first exhibition of Paul Brown from the Permanent Collection will feature his steeplechasing images from the 1930s. It will be on view August 29, 2015 through January 17, 2016.

Fair Hill, 1936, pencil on paper, NSLM, Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013. [(c) Paul Brown (Used with Permission)] Inscribed: "What turf - how the horses gallop into those big fences. They see clearly the task ahead and leap boldly and will. Fair Hill - As near perfection as possible. The numbers on the stall posts - just another detail that wasn't forgotten."
Fair Hill, 1936, pencil on paper, NSLM, Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013. [(c) Paul Brown (Used with Permission)]
Even though he was never a rider himself, Brown was a keen observer of horses and riders at races, hunt meets, polo matches, and horse shows. He traveled to major steeplechase races in America and England throughout his career and documented many gallant wins and dramatic crashes.

Llangollen Cup, Llangollen Farms 1932, 1933, pencil on paper, NSLM, Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013.
Llangollen Cup, Llangollen Farms 1932, 1933, pencil on paper, NSLM, Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013. [(c) Paul Brown (Used with Permission)]
The toughest part about putting together this exhibition? Deciding which fabulous works to put on the wall! The NSLM is lucky to have over 200 examples of original works by Paul Brown. This installation is made up entirely of works within the collection.  All but one – a rare 1930 oil painting – are works on paper. Pencil, ink, and watercolor are materials which are sensitive to light exposure, so we must limit the amount of time they are on display. Many of the works on view will be original pencil and ink drawings from some of Brown’s most popular books, first published in the 1930s: Spills and Thrills (1933), Ups and Downs (1936), and Good Luck and Bad (1940).

Over the Brush Fence, 1930, oil on canvas, NSLM, Gift of Nancy Searles, the artist's daughter, 2011. [(c) Paul Brown (Used with Permission)]
Over the Brush Fence, 1930, oil on canvas, NSLM, Gift of Nancy Searles, the artist’s daughter, 2011. [(c) Paul Brown (Used with Permission)]
Many of you may already be familiar with Brown’s illustrations from his books for children or his “how to draw” books. It’s worth the trip to see the original works in person –  some with delicate shading and subtle tone, or others with quick sketches that capture a moment with just a few lines.

He rode the winner the year before, c. 1940, pencil on paper, NSLM, Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel Lyall takes a good look at Inverse' teeth and then parts company with him - hung there for thirty yards - Bechers.
He rode the winner the year before, c. 1940, pencil on paper, NSLM, Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013.  [(c) Paul Brown (Used with Permission)]
In conjunction with this exhibition, NSLM will be publishing the Inaugural Llangollen Race Meeting Sketchbook. This collection of previously unpublished sketches by Paul Brown documents the glamorous steeplechase held at Llangollen Farm, in Upperville, Virginia, in 1931. The book features an essay by racing historian Dorothy Ours. The book will be released in September.  Click here to learn more or pre-order.

From Aintree to Llangollen. Glangesia – How Jim Ryan sat back on him, 1932, pencil and ink on paper, NSLM, Gift of Helen K. Groves, 2008
From Aintree to Llangollen. Glangesia, 1932, pencil and ink on paper, NSLM, Gift of Helen K. Groves, 2008 [(c) Paul Brown (Used with permission)]  From the Llangollen Race Meeting Sketchbook.
To see these works and more, come visit us soon and like us on Facebook!

NPSH jumping

“As a young girl, my grandmother Nancy Penn Smith Hannum inherited a kingdom she spent a lifetime fighting to protect. Goodnight Ladies is a portrait of that life – of the woman herself and the legend she became.”

Christianna Potter Hannum

Almost 500 people viewed a very popular Drawing Covert post from July 29, 2015, written about the photograph “The Hunt Scene at Middleburg”, taken November 27, 1924. The photo contains many renowned figures of Middleburg and of foxhunting, and is a reminder of the sporting heritage we share. The group would not be complete without Nancy Penn Smith Hannum, MFH.

“Hunt Scene at Middleburg,” 1924

Behind Miss Gatewood is Mr. Harry Duffy Jr. In center of first group in a grey coat with a chrysanemum [sic] is, I feel sure, Miss Nancy Penn Smith (Mrs. J Hannum).
Miss Nancy Penn Smith (Mrs. Hannum) pictured center, wearing a gray coat
Foxhunting since age four,  Hannum left an indelible mark on the world of foxhunting. She was Master of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Hounds for over 50 years, during which time she worked tirelessly to conserve hunting lands and maintain a world-famous pack of foxhounds. Her perseverance and kindness are remembered by innumerable relatives and friends— among them granddaughter Christianna Potter Hannum. Christianna directed and produced a documentary film to share  Hannum’s life and story with future generations and all who remember her.

To see a clip of Goodnight Ladies from the film’s editor, Ray Hubley, follow this link

Join us at the National Sporting Library & Museum on October 6, 2015 from 6-8pm for a special showing of Goodnight Ladies: A Portrait of Nancy Penn Smith Hannum (approximately 40 minutes)  presented by the film’s director, Christianna.  There will be a Q & A session following the viewing, and copies of the film will be available for purchase. Admission is $10, NSLM members are free.

GL

For more photographs and upcoming events at the National Sporting Library & Museum, like us on Facebook and visit our website!

The National Horse Show was founded in New York in 1883. The show rapidly grew in popularity and prominence, and by 1887, the show’s registry of members became the basis for Louis Keller’s first New York Social Register. In 1926, the National Horse Show moved into the third Madison Square Garden (MSG III) on Eighth Avenue, which had been built the prior year. The show was a mainstay at MSG III for 40 years, before eventually moving to the new Madison Square Garden (at its current location) in 1968. Today, the National Horse Show is held at the Kentucky Horse Park.

This week we have another large (about 19 x 11 inches) photograph, this time from the Harry Worcester Smith (1865-1945) archive. It depicts an unusual spectacle at the National Horse Show, November 7-12, 1927. The photo is titled “Coaching at the Garden.”

The coaching parade at the 1927 National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden.
The coaching parade at the 1927 National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden. Photo by Haas, New York. National Sporting Library & Museum, Harry Worcester Smith archive. Click the image for an enlarged version.

The back of the photo has a news clipping attached (from an unidentified newspaper) that describes the scene. Evidently, there were not enough entries to justify usual coaching entries into the show, but the import of “Venture,” the London and Brighton coach once owned by Mr. Alfred G. Vanderbilt (1877-1915), spurred interest and made the parade of coaches possible. Vanderbilt had formerly served as president of the National Horse Show. His son, William H. Vanderbilt, showed “Venture” at the show.

"A coach was started from each end, and when all the coaches were on the move they formed the figure of 8, circles, and criss-cross driving, which made an exhibition of driving as well as of coaches."
“A coach was started from each end, and when all the coaches were on the move they formed the figure of 8, circles, and criss-cross driving, which made an exhibition of driving as well as of coaches.”

Harry Worcester Smith’s handwriting is on the right side of the clipping. His hand is very distinctive, but I admit I find it difficult to make out.

For more photographs and upcoming events at the National Sporting Library & Museum, like us on Facebook and visit our website!