As a Visitor Services Associate at the National Sporting Library & Museum, I often talk to guests about two artworks: an oil, Over the Brush Fence, 1930 and a watercolor, Portrait of a ‘Chaser, 1935. Both were painted by Paul Brown (American, 1893-1958).  Visitors enjoy reminiscing about Paul Brown drawings, prints, and illustrations that they have seen over the years.

Paul Brown (American, 1893-1958) Over the Brush Fence, 1930, oil on canvas, 
26 x 32 7/8 x 1 7/8 inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Nancy Searles, the artist's daughter, 2011
Paul Brown (American, 1893-1958) Over the Brush Fence, 1930, oil on canvas,
26 x 32 7/8 x 1 7/8 inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Nancy Searles, the artist’s daughter, 2011

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Brown was a well-known equestrian artist and illustrator. He captured the excitement of polo matches, horse shows, and steeplechase events in whimsical, yet accurate detail. He also illustrated over 100 children’s books. NSLM is lucky to be the repository of the largest Paul Brown archive of first edition books and artwork in the world.  An especially intimate part of this collection came to us in 2011 from his daughter, Nancy Brown Searles.  Part of the Searles Collection is an archival box filled with drawings in pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor. Many are charming sketches drawn on nothing more than a torn piece of newsprint or remnant of an art board. 

[untitled], 1935, illustration, pen and ink, Paul Brown Archive, Box 11,
Searles Collection, 2011

The oldest drawing is of a lion, signed “Paul Brown, age 6.”

[untitled], 1899, pencil on paper, Paul Brown Archive, Box 11, 
Searles Collection, 2011
[untitled], 1899, pencil on paper, Paul Brown Archive, Box 11, Searles Collection, 2011

There are also endearing sketches and drawings that include handwritten notes to family and friends.

 [untitled], early 20th century, watercolor, Paul Brown Archive, Box 11, 
Searles Collection, 2011
[untitled], early 20th century, watercolor, Paul Brown Archive, Box 11,
Searles Collection, 2011

In addition to my position at the museum, I am working, part-time, on a Master of Museum and Gallery Studies at St Andrews University in Scotland.  As part of my collection-based project, I am cataloguing the Searles Collection. I write condition reports and confirm dates so that relationships between drawings in the museum and books in the library can fill out a narrative of the artist’s career.  Paul Brown’s joie de vivre and consummate draftsmanship shines through in all his work from early sketches to mature drawings.

A few works from this treasure box, as well as some of his books from the NSLM’s F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, will be on display in the Library’s Mars Gallery beginning in late September.  Artwork from the archive will be seen, publicly, for the first time ever!  This small exhibit may make you think twice before you throw away a box of childhood drawings.  You never know where the pen, pencil, or paint brush may take you. Check our website soon for exhibition details.

Grace Pierce is a part-time Visitor Services Associate at the National Sporting Library & Museum.  She is also pursuing a Master of Museum and Gallery Studies at St Andrews University in Scotland. When not greeting visitors at the museum or cataloguing in art storage, Grace can be found on the links in St Andrews. 

Before Eadweard Muybridge (English, 1830–1904) began systematically studying animal locomotion with his camera in 1877, understanding of how horses and other animals moved at faster gaits was tenuous at best. The series of photographs Muybridge produced allowed sporting artists to more accurately portray their subjects.

Muybridge
Eadweard Muybridge (English, 1830-1904), Horse and Rider, 1878, c. 1890 collotype, 19 x 24 1/8 inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Judith & Jo Tartt, Jr. Photography Collection

Muybridge also explored ways to portray motion by combining photographs of different stages of action and displaying them together. He came up with a device known as a “zoöpraxiscope” in 1879. The zoöpraxiscope featured a disc with several images painted on to it, showing different stages of motion. A projector light was shone through the disc, and the shadows cast on the wall by the images as the disc was spun seemed to bring the pictures to life.

Eadweard Muybridge’s zoopraxiscope and disc Zoopraxiscope [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

W.E. Lincoln’s U.S. Patent No. 64,117 of Apr. 23, 1867, W.E. Lincoln [Public domain]

The zoöpraxiscope was difficult to produce, so another moving picture device called a “zoetrope” was more popular. This is a cylindrical device with images printed on the inside. When the device is spun and viewed through the slats, or “apertures,” the pictures form the moving image. Your eyes can’t perceive each picture fast enough to see them individually, but the “blanks” interspersed in between tell your brain that each picture is separate. Your brain and your eyes compromise and put together a moving picture that satisfies both. This is called the “Phi phenomenon,” and it only works if you view each image for less than 1/10th of a second. Any slower, and your eyes would be able to perceive each picture separately. Modern movies and videos work in a very similar manner; a series of images, called “frames,” cycle through the screen at around 60 frames per second. Some higher quality displays can display 300 frames per second!

NSLMology: The Science of Sporting Art, on view through September 15, 2019, features a zoetrope building station, but you can make one at home too! Download the pattern and instructions to make a zoetrope of a galloping racehorse.

Instagram post from April 27, 2019 Family Day showing a completed zoetrope

Be sure to stop by the museum and visit NSLMology: The Science of Sporting Art to learn more about motion and zoetropes, as well as ecology, weather, chemistry, and color theory. There are lots more zoetropes to try, including one with Muybridge’s Gentleman Jumping!


Cynthia Kurtz is the Spring 2019 Curatorial Intern at the National Sporting Museum and Library. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a degree in Classical Literature in 2016. When not at the museum she can likely be found with her beloved horse Splash.

As a student in George Washington University’s Museum Studies program, I am required to complete a 260-hr internship at a museum as part of my curriculum. Given my passion for horses and dogs and the ways they serve us, the National Sporting Library & Museum was the perfect opportunity for me to combine my interests with my education. Fortunately, they also offer a robust internship program and were more than willing to work with my GWU advisor and me to put together a program of study and work.

Photographing the newly conserved Four-paneled Sporting Screen for the exhibition, Deconstructed: The NSLM Sporting Screen.
Front and back of: (after) Thomas Butler (English, c. 1730-1760)
Four-paneled Sporting Screen , c. 1860
hand-colored engravings and oils on canvas on a wooden frame
81 1/2 x 108 inches, Bequest of Sonia Phipps Seherr-Thoss, 2006, photography Cynthia Kurtz

At the time of writing, I have completed 210 of those hours, and my time at the NSLM is winding to a close. I am sad to leave this place; I love the collections, the mission, and the people who make it all happen. But I am also excited to see what I can do next with all the skills and knowledge I have acquired over the past three months!

Before I started my internship, I had never actually handled artwork of any sort besides my own. There are extensive protocols and rules when it comes to handling different types of artwork and frames; for instance, it is usually necessary to wear gloves to protect the work. Sometimes, however, it is safer not to wear them for increased tactile feedback, for example when handling works on paper. There is also a lot of work that goes into keeping the works in tip-top shape while on display: every week I went through the entire museum and cleaned all the frames and sculptures with special brushes.

George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Curator Claudia Pfeiffer holds a box for me while packing On Fly in the Salt: American Saltwater Fly Fishing from the Surf to the Flats, a traveling exhibition that was on loan from the American Museum of Fly Fishing

I also learned more about forming a solid collection plan, processing acquisitions, and keeping strong records of items in the collections. I compiled research for some current exhibitions (see my upcoming post on zoetropes, which I worked on for NSLMology: The Science of Sporting Art!) and some for shows that will not be on display for several years. The ability to work on such a variety of programs in different stages of development meant that I got a taste of the entire process of curating a museum exhibition, start to finish.

In short, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities NSLM has given me this semester and have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I wish the best of luck to the next intern, and I eagerly await the next chapter of my own career.


Cynthia Kurtz is the Spring 2019 Curatorial Intern at the National Sporting Museum and Library. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a degree in Classical Literature in 2016. When not at the museum she can likely be found with her beloved horse Splash.

When we visit a museum and admire the great works hanging there, it is easy to imagine the masterful artists sitting down and creating each piece in one swift movement, merely putting brush to canvas and bringing to life yet another masterpiece. In actuality, the process of creating art is a long and arduous one, and the work hanging in the gallery is seldom the first iteration.

As part of my internship, I have been working with a collection of watercolors by Cuthbert Bradley, an early 20th century artist and writer who lived and worked in England. Born in 1861, he was the son of the Rev. Edward Bradley, also a well-known writer and artist. Cuthbert Bradley first worked as an architect, but upon moving to the countryside with his wife engaged more with his love of sporting pursuits, becoming a journalist for The Field and hunting regularly with various packs. As an artist, he was entirely self-taught and showed a penchant for depicting hounds.

The collection of watercolors I have been working with offers a unique opportunity to explore the artist’s process. They are primarily studies, possibly made in preparation for a later, more finished, work and feature handwritten notes describing who is in the painting, what is happening, and even details such as the date, the location of the kill, and the time the hunt lasted. In a few instances even the horses and dogs are named. One painting, The Earl and Countess of Lonsdale Arriving at Barleythorpe, 1893, is specifically labeled by Bradley as being a study for a painting he would later present to Lord Lonsdale. By completing a study, the artist can “map” a painting and decide on composition before committing to a final piece. It also allowed the quick capture of a moment outdoors in the days before cameras were portable or even commonplace, perfect for documenting a fast-paced hunt. Because it will not be a final work, the artist is free to leave imperfections or paint over them loosely, as evidenced in this detail from Viewing a Fox Away, 1917.

Cuthbert Bradley (English, 1861-1943), Viewing a Fox Away, 1917, watercolor on paper, 10 ¼ x 14 ½ inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels, 1999.
Detail of Viewing a Fox Away, 1917. The ghost of the previous position of the horizontal directionals, visible one inch below those in the final version, shows how Bradley adjusted his composition as he worked.

A painting’s reverse can also be a fascinating source of information about the artist and his work. As these works are not framed, I am able to view the backs and learn quite a bit more from what I find there. On the back of Mr Henry Spencer Hunting the Blankney Hounds, 1920, the artist left extensive notes, a list of dogs’ names, a sketch of a galloping horse and rider, and a message stating “Please Return to Cuthbert Bradley, Folkingham, Lincolnshire,” all haphazardly strewn about the paper. Several other pieces are mounted on mats that have seemingly been reused, as the backs have handwritten captions for paintings that are no longer attached and are not in our collection. A fascinating example is Stirrup Cup: Lord Lonsdale. Master of the Cottesmore, 1915-21., 1921, on the back of which another painting remains, though it has been cut. A large “X” is drawn through one of the horses clearing the fence. It is hard to say whether Bradley suffered a falling out with the subject of this painting, decided to go in a different direction with the study, or merely completed the work and wanted to recycle his materials for newer pieces. Regardless, it is an excellent example of how the front of a work seldom tells the entire story.

Cuthbert Bradley (English, 1861-1943), Reverse of Mr Henry Spencer Hunting the Blankney Hounds, 1920, watercolor on paper, 9 ¾ x 13 ½ inches.
National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels, 1999. (Image enhanced for clarity)

As a museum, it is our responsibility to not only show works of art but to interpret them. The watercolors of Cuthbert Bradley are a profound example of how important it is to consider not just the visible portion of the painting but the entire work. What’s hidden behind the frame can tell us a great deal about the artist and their artistic process.

Reverse of Stirrup Cup: Lord Lonsdale. Master of the Cottesmore 1915-21., 1921, Cuthbert Bradley (English, 1861-1943) watercolor on paper, 9 ¾ x 12 inches.
National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of John H. and Martha Daniels, 1999.

If you would like to learn more about Cuthbert Bradley and the hunts he frequented, the library has copies of his books Good Sport Seen with some Famous Packs 1885-1910 and Fox-hunting from Shire to Shire in both the Main Reading Room and the Rare Book Room.


Cynthia Kurtz is the Spring 2019 Curatorial Intern at the National Sporting Museum and Library. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a degree in Classical Literature in 2016. When not at the museum she can likely be found with her beloved horse Splash.