Of the many treasures here in the collections of the NSLM, some objects tell more stories than others.  The four-paneled Sporting Screen is a rare and special piece that seems to always be remembered by our visitors. The free-standing screen features the work of many different artists, includes imagery of 18th century horsemanship and racing, and connects directly with books and manuscripts found in the Library’s F. Ambrose Clark Rare Books Room. It’s a perfect fit for the NSLM collection, and was generously donated in 2006 through the bequest of Sonia Phipps Seherr-Thoss (1919-2006).

Screen_recto
Four-Panel Sporting Screen (recto), mid-18th/19th century, hand-colored engravings, and oil on canvas mounted on wooden screen, each panel: 81 ½ x 27 inches, Bequest of Sonia Phipps Seherr-Thoss, 2006

The front of the screen (the “recto” side) features 32 individual, hand-painted prints of 18th-century British race horses and four oil paintings. The prints, which include pedigree, ownership, and the winning records for each horse, were first published in 1741 by the painter and printmaker Thomas Butler (British, active 1750-1759). Portraits of the same horses also appear in the beautifully illustrated book The Sportsman’s Companion: or Portraitures, Pedigrees, and Performances of the Most Eminent Race Horses and Stallions (Published in 1820). A copy is held in the Library collection.

Sportsman's-companion---Cato
Portraiture of Cato, Drawn and engraved by James and Henry Roberts, in The Sportsman’s Companion . . . (London: 1820). Note the decorative  illustration at the bottom of the page which features the same style horse blankets depicted above.

The back of the screen (or the “verso”) features completely different types of scenes showing early 18th century equitation and training.

Screen_verso
Four-Panel Sporting Screen (verso), mid-18th/19th century, hand-colored engravings, and oil on canvas mounted on wooden screen, each panel: 81 ½ x 27 inches, Bequest of Sonia Phipps Seherr-Thoss, 2006

Painted after original drawings by the artist John Vanderbank (British, 1694-1739), the scenes illustrate a variety of advanced dressage movements. The same Vanderbank illustrations appear in the 1729 horsemanship manual Twenty-five Actions of the Manage Horse. An unbound copy of this book can also be found in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Books Room.

Vanderbanck---Volte-to-the-left
The Volte Reversed to the left, drawn by James Vanderbank and engraved by Josephus Sympson, in Twenty-five Actions of the Manage Horse (London: J. Sympson, 1729). “Manage” (also spelled “Manege”) refers to the art of training riding horses, like today’s dressage. The “Volte” is an exercise for flexibility, completed on a small circle. The authors describe it as the “best lesson to make a horse’s shoulders pliable.”

Caring for an object like this presents unique challenges. The screen is made of wood, oil paint on canvas, prints on paper, leather borders, and metal hardware. These materials are all very sensitive to climate conditions (meaning temperature and humidity), as well as light. Those of you who have been to see the screen in person may have noticed the light levels in the gallery are kept rather low, to protect the fragile materials from overexposure and fading. In order to allow the screen some time to rest out of the light, we will soon be moving it into the Museum’s art storage room. We will use that time to have it carefully evaluated – and eventually conserved – by expert art conservators, in order to preserve and protect it.

Screen_detail-1 We look forward to having this great object cleaned up and put back on view soon! To learn more about the art collections and the library collections, visit NationalSporting.org

If you love foxhunting, horses, fly fishing, books, or art, you probably know who we are. If you love living in the South, country sports and speaking with a refined (or sometimes twangy) accent, you know Garden & Gun  magazine. Thanks to some mutual friends, we at NSLM have been able to share more about ourselves and our community with the kind folks at G&G.

Small-Town Escapes: Middleburg, VA

June/July 2015, Robb Scharetg (center); Alan Goldstein Photography (left and right)

This past summer we were featured in a weekend getaway article about our hometown, Middleburg, VA. Not only does our little town offer hunting, fine dining, and shopping, you can also see some of the best sporting artwork right here in our Museum (and read about its history in our Library!). Our most recent exhibition, Side-by-Side with Gun & Dog was also highlighted this fall. Read the Garden & Gun feature below, or read more about the exhibition on our website.

Two Centuries of Dogs in the Field

A new exhibit in Virginia honors the bond between hunter and dog

Richard Ansdell (Bristish, 1815 - 1885) Highland Tod, Fox Hunter, 1859 oil on canvas 29 x 63 ½ inches Collection of American Kennel Club
Richard Ansdell (Bristish, 1815 – 1885)
Highland Tod, Fox Hunter, 1859
oil on canvas
29 x 63 ½ inches
Collection of American Kennel Club

This December, the National Sporting Library & Museum will make its first ever appearance at G&G‘s Made in the South Jubilee in Charleston in just a few weeks! If you are in the area, come see us every day that weekend. We will have giveaways, items from our collection, and information on how you can be part of sporting history. If you can’t make it to Charleston, stop by the Library & Museum and pick up a copy of Side-by-Side with Gun & Dog‘s exhibition catalog. It’s a wishlist must for wing shooters and dog lovers alike!

Or meet us in Charleston!
Come see us in Middleburg

Gervase Markham (1568-1637) was a prolific writer on a wide variety of topics. NSLM has quite a few editions of his works, including an early edition of Cavalarice; or, The English Horseman. Today we’ll take a brief look at his most famous horse book, Markham’s Masterpiece.

Markham's Masterpiece, the edition used for this post was printed in 1683 and was donated to NSLM by the Estate of Eve Prime Fout in 2008.
Markham’s Masterpiece, the edition used for this post was printed in 1683 and was donated to NSLM by the Estate of Eve Prime Fout in 2008.

Originally printed in 1610, Markham’s Masterpiece was spectacularly popular and ran through dozens of editions and reprints over the next two centuries. It was reprinted in the American colonies under the title The Citizen and Countryman’s Experienced Farrier. The book serves as a veterinary compendium for cures of common (and uncommon) equine ailments, and the book was often printed with other works included. The copy we’re looking at today includes The Countryman’s Care for Curing Diseases in Smaller Cattle.

"Of the Veins belonging to the Horse, and how many there be."
“Of the Veins belonging to the Horse, and how many there be.”

Markham’s intent in producing the book is clear. He wishes to inform the reader and include all the latest treatments and cures to dispel the use of backwards ones. In his historical context, this was a worthy goal. From our privileged vantage-point, however, the unfortunate fact is that much of the treatments for illness in horses during this time were as helpful as the treatments for humans. For example, Markham treats most illness as imbalance of the bodily humours, and prescribes treatments such as blood-letting and concoctions of various roots to bring the humours back into balance.

Markham's directions, under "Cures Chirurgical," for creating a white star of a horse's forehead. The process calls for surgery to kill the skin on the head, bleaching white the hair.
Markham’s directions, under “Cures Chirurgical,” for creating a white star of a horse’s forehead. The process calls for surgery to kill the skin on the head, bleaching the hair white.

Despite the lack of medical accuracy, Markham’s Masterpiece is an invaluable window into the practices of farriery from the 17th to the 19th Centuries. As subsequent editions were produced, revisions, edits, and additions were made. The abiding popularity of the book gives insight into overall horse management from the period.

"The Farrier's Chief Instruments."
“The Farrier’s chief Instruments.”

Our John H. Daniels Fellows have used books like Markham’s Masterpiece to look at historical horse care practices. Kathleen Crandell, a Fellow at NSLM from 2013-2014, will present some of her research on historical equine feeding management at NSLM on November 21. If you would like to attend, or have questions about the event, please contact us.

A good deal of attention has been paid to Harry Worcester Smith (1865-1945) at NSLM lately. NSLM holds an archive collection of Worcester Smith’s papers, and has several photographs of him, including an image of him hunting in Loudoun County, Virginia in 1910.

Portrait of Harry Worcester Smith, by Richard Benno Adam (German, 1873-1937) Watercolor and pencil heightened with gouache, 20 1/2 x 16 inches National Sporting Library & Museum, gift of the Saddle & Sirloin Club, Chicago
Portrait of Harry Worcester Smith, by Richard Benno Adam (German, 1873-1937)
Watercolor and pencil heightened with gouache, 20 1/2 x 16 inches
National Sporting Library & Museum, gift of the Saddle & Sirloin Club, Chicago

Who was Harry Worcester Smith? A textile magnate from Massachusetts, Harry took it as his mission to promote sport in America. He was gifted with a magnetic personality, often crossing the line between confident and brash.

Success, winner of the Genesee Valley Point-to-Point and Harry Worcester Smith, MFH, in the Loudoun country, 1910. National Sporting Library & Museum Images Collection.
Success, winner of the Genesee Valley Point-to-Point and Harry Worcester Smith, MFH, in the Loudoun country, 1910. National Sporting Library & Museum Images Collection.

Worcester Smith learned to love the outdoors as a boy, during long walks with his father. He was an avid rider, participating in horse shows and steeplechase races before accepting an invitation to hunt fox with a friend. The experience turned him into a fanatical fox hunter, and he spent the rest of his life in the promotion of the sport he loved.

“Upon the turf & beneath the turf, all men are equal.”
From a scrapbook of images collected by Harry Worcester Smith to provide illustrations for his autobiography. The work was never written. National Sporting Library & Museum.

As MFH of the Grafton Hounds in Massachusetts, Worcester Smith was a dedicated proponent of the American foxhound as a superior hunter to the traditional English hound. The point, debated at length, culminated in the “Great Hound Match of 1905,” a competition to lay the question to rest at last. Worcester Smith represented the American hounds, and Alexander Henry Higginson, Master of the Middlesex Hunt in Massachusetts, represented the English hounds.

The Great Hound Match of 1905, by Martha Wolfe, a new book from Lyons Press. The book chronicles the match transformed Northern Virginia.
The Great Hound Match of 1905, by Martha Wolfe, a new book from Lyons Press. The book chronicles the match that transformed Northern Virginia.

The match, hunted in Loudoun and Fauquier Counties, established Virginia as excellent hunting territory and several hunts were founded or moved to Virginia soon after. To learn more about the competition (and to find out who won the match), you can read a new book, The Great Hound Match of 1905 by Martha Wolfe, John H. Daniels Research Fellow. Even better, come visit us this Sunday, November 8 at 2:00 p.m. and get Martha to sign a copy for you! Click here for the full day’s activities, or contact us to reserve your spot.

Cecil Aldin (1870-1935) was a British artist and illustrator, known for his portrayal of animals and country sports. Here at NSLM we have many books illustrated by him, and quite a few written by him, too. I find his art and his writing to be charming, so I couldn’t resist using another of his works for this post.

The stars of the book are Aldin's own duo, Micky and Cracker.
The stars of the book are Aldin’s own duo, Micky and Cracker.

We’ve blogged about some of Aldin’s work before, but nothing quite so “doggy” as this! Dogs of Character is a labor of love in which Aldin highlights the humorous habits, misadventures, and quirks of his lovable canine companions.

Aldin also relates humorous tales about other dogs he had encountered, including "Sturdee," the dog who chewed through doors with lightning speed!
Aldin also relates humorous tales about other dogs he had encountered, including “Sturdee,” the dog who chewed through doors with lightning speed!

It’s hard not to laugh along with Aldin. And honestly, who wouldn’t make a book about all their dog adventures if they had Aldin’s artistic ability?

Cracker likes to sleep atop Micky. If Aldin is to be believed, Micky won a dog show award for MOST POPULAR DOG IN SHOW, and Cracker won another for THE UGLIEST DOG IN SHOW.
Cracker likes to sleep atop Micky. If Aldin is to be believed, Micky won a dog show award for MOST POPULAR DOG IN SHOW, and Cracker won another for THE UGLIEST DOG IN SHOW.

The narrative of the book is very relaxed, and follows an easy,  conversational tone. One can easily imagine Aldin dispensing wisdom on the care of canines with illustrative misadventures, such as the time he got locked in a dog kennel by accident or the time his dog “Sturdee,” having been caught off the leash, chewed his way out of a jail cell door in the police station!

The stars, jealous of sharing the limelight with other dogs.
The stars, jealous of sharing the limelight with other dogs.

Do you have a special pup in your life? If you love dogs, don’t forget to check out the current Museum exhibition at NSLM, Side-by-Side with Gun & Dog.

This is one of over 100 books available to purchase through the NSLM Annual Auction. Time is running out! The Annual Auction, composed of duplicates from the Library collections, will end on November 8. This year’s Auction includes some lovely sporting art and is perfect for holiday shopping; contact John Connolly, the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian to bid.