For those of you who have been to one of my gallery talks, you’ve probably figured out that I love to share ideas about sporting art, sporting culture, and related trivia. It’s a passion to bring this material to broader audiences. Put me behind a podium, however, introducing someone with an impressive list of credentials, and I’m like a deer in headlights! All of a sudden I’m responsible for summarizing someone’s accomplishments. This is the worst kind of pressure, and I am not good at rote memorization.

Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (American, 1819 - 1905) American Deer, 1857 oil on canvas, 7 ⅛ x 5 ⅝ inches Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Timothy Greenan, 2011
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (American, 1819 – 1905) American Deer, 1857, oil on canvas, 7 ⅛ x 5 ⅝ inches National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Timothy Greenan, 2011

I like to think I’m more like A.F. Tait’s American Deer when presenting gallery talks, poised and dignified (with a dose of caffeine). You might have seen this painting in the second floor Museum galleries, but it is currently off view. Although Tait painted several full-size canvases of deer, some reminiscent of Sir Edwin Landseer’s Monarch of the Glen in the Museums of Scotland collection, the small three-quarter portrait in the NSLM collection is unusual for him. It depicts an eight-point buck with a velvet rack and summer coat framed by foliage. Fun fact – Did you know that antlers used for sparring in the fall are rich with nerves and sensitive to pain when in velvet? Bucks are extremely aware of their racks and avoid contact with objects such as tree limbs during this time.

Edwin Landseer (1802-1873) Monarch of the Glen; National Museums Scotland; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/monarch-of-the-glen-184975
Edwin Landseer (English, 1802-1873), Monarch of the Glen, 1851
National Museums Scotland
image source: http://www.artuk.org/artworks/monarch-of-the-glen-184975

Landseer’s magnificent portrait of a red deer in the Highlands shows the buck proudly displaying his twelve-point rack and thick winter coat. Paintings like these were embraced by an ever-increasing urban population as windows into nature.

I know I would not get tired of looking at Landseer’s painting. Working in a converted 1804 Federal-style house means that the Curatorial offices in the Museum are below ground level. Mine is the only one with a window. I enjoy the filtered sunlight and occasionally get a glimpse of the lawn service crew mowing the grass.

Curator of Art's window

I think I speak for George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian John Connolly, Curator of Permanent Collections Nicole Stribling, and myself in saying, we enjoy sharing the topics we love with  like-minded people instead of just a computer screen. Gallery Talks are about sharing ideas and intended to be informal chats that last about a half hour. If you’ve been wondering if you would like to commit your Wednesday afternoon to a Gallery Talk, know that we are down in the trenches and looking forward to coming up for some good conversation. See you next Wednesday at 2 pm!


pfeifferClaudia Pfeiffer has been the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Curator of Art at the National Sporting Library & Museum since the position was underwritten by the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Foundation in 2012. Her primary focus is the research, design, interpretation, writing, and installation of exhibitions. E-mail Claudia at cpfeiffer@nationalsporting.org

Today  Drawing Covert turns one hundred! This is post number one hundred, and we’ve been posting about events, books, art, and history for 21 months. To commemorate our accomplishment of a round number, I figured we could highlight a sketch book from the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, called One Hundred Original Sketches.

The sketches are by George Algernon Fothergill (1868-1945), a British doctor-turned-artist who took a break from sporting art to serve as Medical Officer to the 1st Cavalry Brigade during World War I.

fothergill1
First pencil studies for portrait of “Factor,” 1913.

The sketches in the book are mostly in pencil, and served as studies for later works. Each sketch is dated by the artist.

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Left, center: “Buttercup,” by “The Baron,” winner of the House of Commons Point-to-Point, 1908, taken from snapshots. Right: “An actual face!!” 1913 sketch.

Fothergill worked from the early 1900s to 1945, during a renaissance period for British sporting culture. He enjoyed the patronage of the King of England, the German Emperor, the Duke of Leeds, the Marquess of Zetland, and the Earl of Lonsdale.

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Book plate for William Hall, Baron Wavertree.

Fothergill was educated at Uppingham and Edinburgh University and theRoyal College of Surgeons. He was a lecturer at Edinburgh University before serving as resident clinical assistant at a mental ward. In 1906, over 1,000 of his works had been published, mainly in sporting magazines, and gave up medicine to focus on art and archaeology.

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Left: “Waiting for the hounds, 1912” Right: “Brood Mares and Foal, 1913.” Both sketches labeled “sketched from our front garden.”

We’d like to thank our readers who have joined us for our first hundred glances into the collections and programs at NSLM. We’re excited for our next hundred, and hope you are as well. Going to be in our area in the coming months? Make sure to plan your visit so you can see some of our treasured objects or temporary loan exhibitions!


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail

In a fortunate coincidence, we started reprocessing our books on Olympic equestrian events this week — right in the middle of the Rio Olympics. Something we found tipped in one of the books was called Ryttar-Olympiaden: Stockholm 1956. This off-print is a sampler ad for a 270-page commemorative book on the equestrian games of the XVIth Olympiad. Some great photos are included, and we wanted to share some memories to compare as we watch Olympic competition 60 years later.

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Lis Hartel, Denmark, Silver, Henri St. Cyr, Sweden, Gold, and Liselott Lisenhoff, Germany, Bronze, Individual Winners of the Grand Prix de Dressage, riding their honorary turn around the Stadium.
olympics2
Hans Gunter Winkler, Germany, Gold Medal Individual of the Olympic Grand Prix Jumping Competition, made and extraordinary fine effort. Despite a serious muscle-rupture, incurred during the first round, and suffering from severe pains, Winkler rode his horse Halla through the second round without any fault.
olympics5
Queen Elizabeth at the moment when her horse Countryman III is passing the obstacle. To the left of the Queen, Princess Margaret, the Duchess of Gloucester, and the Princess Sibylla of Sweden.
olympics3
Some onlookers at obstacle No. 8-9: to the left the Grand Duke of Luxemburg, Lady Mountbatted, in the middle King Gustaf Adolf and Queen Louise, and then the long file of Swedish Princesses: Sibylla, and her four daughters, Christina, Desiree, Birgitta, and Margheretha. In front of them her only son, Carl Gustaf, the Crown Prince of Sweden.
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A. P. M. Bouchet, France, and his horse Ferney have a fall at the eight obstacle, but finish the cross-country phase.

The Olympics never seem to lack drama! From royal guests, to falls, injuries, and successes, the 1956 Stockholm Olympics seem to have had a fair share of heroics. It’s always great to get a look back at some of these moments past, even while new memories are being made.


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail

Many of the works of art in the NSLM collection show gallant wins, bucolic scenes, or noble portraits. And some show the slightly less noble side of equestrian sport. Many sporting artists – who were oftentimes equestrians themselves – showed their sense of humor about the inevitable:  when a rider parts company with her or his horse. Below are just a few examples from the permanent collection which show riders and their mounts parting ways.

John Ferneley, Sr, (British, 1781-1860), The Hunt in Belvoir Vale, c.1835 oil on canvas, 48 x 133 in. Gift of Kathryn James Clark in memory of Stephen C. Clark, Jr., 2013
John Ferneley, Sr, (British, 1781-1860), The Hunt in Belvoir Vale, c.1835, oil on canvas, 48 x 133 inches, Gift of Kathryn James Clark in memory of Stephen C. Clark, Jr., 2013

This mural-sized painting by John Ferneley, Sr., shows a hunting scene in England’s Melton Mowbray, in the 1830s. The group of huntsmen shown in the foreground have all been identified. However, if you look closely, you can see a fellow in the background (who remains nameless) begrudgingly following behind his horse on foot.

Ferneley detail_web

One of the exhibitions currently on view in the Museum, Picturing English Pastimes: British Sporting Prints at the NSLM, includes several works by artist Henry Thomas Alken. His panorama of the 1818 Epsom Derby features a parade of spectators heading to the races – some of whom can barely control their mounts.

Henry Thomas Alken (English, 1785-1851) Epsom Races – The Derby Day, 1818 hand-colored aquatint, each 2 ½ x 20 inches Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Norman R. Bobins, 2012
Henry Thomas Alken (English, 1785-1851), (detail) Epsom Races – The Derby Day, 1818, hand-colored aquatint, each 2 ½ x 20 inches, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Norman R. Bobins, 2012

The illustrations of American artist Paul Brown (1893-1958) are much loved by riders and non-riders alike. With his published collections of drawings titled Spills and Thrills, Good Luck and Bad, and Ups and Downs, he became famous for capturing crashes and near misses at equestrian events in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.

Paul Brown, Happy Landing, 1933, pencil and ink on paper, 8 1/2 x 11 1/4 inches, Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013
Paul Brown, Happy Landing, 1933, pencil and ink on paper, 8 1/2 x 11 1/4 inches, Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013 [(c) Paul Brown]
Inscription: Happy Landing – Louis D’Or pecked – slid – scrambled and the boy went out on his mounts neck – Horse recovered with a great forward and upward thrust of his legs and a toss of his head. Up went jockey Harroway – up and off.  Llangollen Farms 1932.

Paul Brown, Mistakes and Great Recoveries, 1940, pencil on paper, 9 1/4 x 12 inches, Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013
Paul Brown, Mistakes and Great Recoveries, 1940, pencil on paper, 9 1/4 x 12 inches, Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013 [(c) Paul Brown]
Inscription: Mistakes and great recoveries by mounts and men – from Maryland, Virginia and Long Island

Paul Brown, Mike Phipps vs. Stewart Iglehart, 1933, pencil and ink on paper, 8 1/2 x 11 1/4 inches, Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013
Paul Brown, Mike Phipps vs. Stewart Iglehart, 1933, pencil and ink on paper, 8 1/2 x 11 1/4 inches, Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013 [(c) Paul Brown]
Inscription: “Mike” Phipps vs. Stewart Iglehart, A bump form behind by “Mike” – “Stewie” in the air – rolling boy – back in saddle again and the game went on. Meadow Brook 1931.

Cecil Aldin (English, 1870-1935), The Grand National Series: No. 3, Valentine's Brook, c. 1823, photogravure, Gift of Dr. Laura Jane Schrock
Cecil Aldin (English, 1870-1935), (detail) The Grand National Series: No. 3, Valentine’s Brook, c. 1823, photogravure, Gift of Dr. Laura Jane Schrock

 

Whether you are a 19th century fox hunter, or a 21st century aspiring Olympian, we all end up on the ground occasionally. The artists in our collection like to help remind us of that. Here’s to everyone keeping their feet safely planted in the irons!

 

At the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) we discuss topics relating to equestrian sports as well as turf and field sports—which covers everything from coaching and polo to fly fishing and wing shooting! We represent it all in art and in books. Let’s just say if the Brntes wrote about it, we have it here. And last weekend, more than a dozen carriages and hundreds of people (including staff from Colonial Williamsburg) came to celebrate our first ever “Carriage Day.”

My goal as an Educator for NSLM is to bring these subjects to life. So when I had an opportunity to highlight coaching, I drew my inspiration from two groups that already live and breathe carriages: Colonial Williamsburg and the Piedmont Driving Club.

We were originally set on having Carriage Day in late May. Now, I don’t know if you all remember, but this spring took a long time to warm up. And on May 21 (our initial date), we had to cancel because somehow it was 50 degrees and raining! You know what they say about Virginia weather. If you don’t like it, just wait five minutes!

After a washout, we changed the date to late July, when we were pretty confident we’d have warmer weather. It turns out “warm” was an understatement. If you really want to have a successful Carriage Day, I recommend baking it at 100 degrees for seven hours. It sure worked for us!

loadingin

Despite temperatures nearing triple digits, folks came pouring in from Middleburg, the D.C. area, and out of state to see the carriages, and for good reason. Of the 16 vehicles present, we covered almost every kind of carriage spanning nearly two centuries! You could see everything from a racing gig and sleigh to a governess cart and an authentic English beer dray. Some of these vehicles rarely make it out of their carriage houses. Others go on dozens of picnic drives a year with the very active Piedmont Driving Club. These owners, drivers, and grooms love what they do, and you can tell in the quality of their sets of wheels.

dray

gigs

sleigh

We also had visitors in our Museum galleries to see some of our carriage-centric artifacts, including our famous silver coach and original coach horn. Hey, it’s not every day you can be serenaded by a curator!

coachhorn

silvercoach

Carriage Day was also a singular opportunity to visit Colonial Williamsburg here in Middleburg! Paul Bennett, CW’s Director of Coach & Livestock, came with two footmen and a pair of refurbished carriages. The trio was a well-oiled machine of precision, knowledge, and humor. Whether our visitors were first-time carriage viewers or drivers with more than 30 years’ experience, anyone talking to them walked away discussing a new tidbit they had learned.

guests

And our lecture hall was filled to capacity for Paul’s talk on the history of carriages dating all the way back to the advent of the wheel. Fortunately for him, wheels no longer have to be carved from stone by hand.

With a small organization like the National Sporting Library & Museum, it took an ‘all hands on deck’ effort with staff, partners, and volunteers to execute an event like this. But even with a rescheduled date and crazy heat, Carriage day turned out to be our biggest educational program to date.

Thanks to Colonial Williamsburg, the Piedmont Driving Club, and all the other partners, volunteers, and members who made it such a success. Drive on!