In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought it appropriate to highlight a few sporting artists, who were also mothers, we have featured at NSLM.
New York native Jean Eleanor Bowman (American, 1917-1994) studied at the Grand Central Art School, the National Academy of Design, and the Scott Carbee School of Art. She became known for her equine portraits and counted influential equestrians amongst her many patrons, including George L. Ohrstrom, Jr., Paul Mellon, and the British Royal Family.
Jean Bowman Pentacost moved to Middleburg, Virginia, and married her second husband, NSLM co-founder Alexander Mackay-Smith in 1944. In 1980, she was one of ten artists who founded the American Academy of Equine Art. Though she is primarily known as a painter, she was also a sculptor and illustrator. She was the first contemporary American artist whose work was reproduced on the cover of The Chronicle of the Horse. Bowman had one son, John Pentacost, and was later a grandmother. She sadly died in a plane accident in 1994. In 2006, a retrospective of her, and fellow sporting artist W. Smithson Broadhead, was held at the Sporting Gallery in Middleburg.
In the collection:
One of our most recent acquisitions we received was a Jean Bowman painting, Eglinton and Caledon Hunt with Major Charles Kindersley as M.F.H. and Richard Kindersley as Whipper in. This painting was donated by Mrs. Lynne Kindersley Dole, the first librarian (1954-1977) of the National Sporting Library (now the NSLM) and the the daughter of Major Kindersley.
Another artist and mother in our collection is Clarice Smith (American, b. 1933). Born and raised in Washington, DC, Smith attended the University of Maryland and George Washington University, later receiving honorary doctorates from both institutions. Influenced by 19th-century artists James McNeil Whistler (American, 1834-1903) and Édouard Manet (French, 1832-1883) and 20th-century artist John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925), she produces a wide range of subjects, from still lifes to portraiture. Her first exhibition was held in 1985, and she has continued to regularly exhibit her works, both as a solo artist and as part of group shows. Her recognition extends internationally having exhibited in London, Paris, Zurich, Maastricht, and Jerusalem. In 2014, Smith had a solo exhibition at the NSLM, Clarice Smith: Power & Grace.
Along with her late husband, Robert, Smith is a notable philanthropist. An array of organizations and institutions have been the recipients of their generosity, from universities and historic sites to local and religious communities.
Smith is mother to three children, Michelle, David, and Stephen, as well as a grandmother. With her son David, she has created several books, including Afternoon Tea with Mom: The Paintings of Clarice Smith.
In the collection:
The NSLM is grateful for all Smith has contributed to the organization. Gallop, a three-paneled screen, was donated by the artist in 2015. It was recently highlighted in a virtual Gallery Talk.
Click here for the virtual tour of our permanent collection: see if you can find Bowman’s painting of Major Kindersley and Smith’s Gallop.
For a fun twist on the theme is a portrait of a mother created by an artist mother.
Ellen Emmet Rand (American, 1875-1941) was a portrait painter in the early 20th century. She trained in the Paris studio of Frederick MacMonnies (American, 1863-1937) and was influenced by Sargent. Her patrons were movers and shakers within politics and society: the Vanderbilts, the du Ponts, and not least, she painted the first presidential portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Less known are the sporting portraits she produced. The sitters were “her” crowd, people she hunted and rode with, who were part of her social circle. But these were also influential individuals, like New York Senator Frederic Bontecou.
Rand was mother to three sons, Christopher, William, and John, as well as grandmother and great-grandmother to many. She was also the namesake to her first granddaughter, who followed in Rand’s footsteps, becoming an artist in her own right. Paintings of her sons were included the NSLM’s 2019-2020 exhibition, Leading the Field: Ellen Emmet Rand.
In the exhibition:
Also featured in Leading the Field was this painting of Mrs. Emily Bedford Davie. It is one of the few portraits in the exhibition not in sporting attire, though Mrs. Davie was an avid horsewoman. Her daughter’s portrait is also included in the show, Miss Emily Davie, ex-Whipper-in to the Aiken Junior Drag. Like many mothers and daughters, they look very similar. Click here to go to the virtual tour and see if you can find her! Unfortunately, the below portrait of Emily Bedford Davie was returned before the virtual tour was produced but here she is, looking absolutely lovely:
This is by no means all the mothers in our collection or on exhibit, but just a few women to highlight on the most special of days! Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms, Moms-to-be, surrogate Moms, Stepmothers, Moms who do double duty as Dads, Dads who do double duty as Moms, Grandmothers, and anyone you call Mom. And of course, a shout out to my very own Mama Bear!
Lauren Kraut is the Collections Manager at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her primary focus is to maintain and preserve the works of art in the collection and on loan. Email her at lkraut@NationalSporting.org. This is the author with her mother, 1987