My feet are killing me. I’m tired. I subjected Art Handler Alex to various podcasts and audiobooks. And I’m running out of black leggings to wear. But I love it. Exhibition change-out is my favorite time of year and the past four weeks have been particularly exciting.

Artist Jamie Wyeth generously allowed us to enjoy Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration a little longer, which meant it closed a week before the March 21 closing date for Thrill of the ‘Chace: Steeplechase in Art. In the midst of this was the arrival of artwork from the National Museum of Wildlife Art for Tucker Smith: A Celebration of Nature. Of over 80 works of art.

Monday, March 15

The month-long extravaganza is officially underway. Alex and I began packing the 31 Wyeth paintings (plus one trophy). For those that remember how large Connemara Four is, you can imagine how careful we were. It called for a few extra hands.

Jamie Wyeth (American, b. 1946), Connemara Four (1991), oil on panel, 48 x 96 inches, The Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth Collection

The deinstallation was bittersweet for a couple reasons. First, this exhibition was a wonderful celebration of the life of our local friend, Mrs. Wyeth. Over the past year, I met many lovely people who either knew her or knew of her. I heard stories of her sense of adventure and her humor, her zeal for life. Listening to these provided such poignant context to the paintings. Second, the exhibition opened pre-COVID, only a few weeks before NSLM closed for four months. I thought back to installation when five of us were crowded in a gallery without worrying about masks or social distancing yet. It is hard to believe it has only been a year, rather it seems like a lifetime ago. So much has happened in the world. But our museum has not only survived, but thrived thanks to our loyal members, visitors, and friends. To the sound of Joe Friday and Dragnet, Alex and I dutifully packed up the exhibition and said goodbye to the Wyeths.

From left to right: Jamie Wyeth (American, b. 1946), Sable (1988), oil and gesso on panel, 30 x 40 inches, The Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth Collection; She’s Gone to the Barn (2016), acrylic, gesso, and oil on panel, 16 x 11½ inches, The Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth Collection; Stealing Hollies from the Irenees (2016), 23 x 29 inches, acrylic, gesso, and oil on panel, The Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth Collection

Monday, March 21

Next on our To-Do list was to tackle Steeplechase. We dove in according to the shipping schedule, which meant that as the work from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was going to be the first to be picked up the following Monday, it was first to come off the walls. This was different from Wyeth because this exhibition had 16 private lenders, as well as several public institutions. The transportation logistics can always be hairy as it is multiple schedules we are working around. This appeals to my Virgo nature though – spreadsheets and color coding.

Painting far left: Franklin Brooke Voss (American, 1880-1953), Welbourne Jack with Jack Skinner up at Glenwood Park, 1937, oil on canvas, 28 x 36 inches, Private Collection; sculpture: Emma MacDermott (Irish, b. 1957), Steeplechase, c. 1986, bronze, 28 x 46 ½ x 10 ½ inches, Private Collection

The individual lenders decide how they want to pack artwork: sometimes paintings arrive in wooden crates, other times in cardboard softpack. There are multiple layers of bubble wrap, plastic, and/or foam core. Everything is saved – how it arrives is how it is returned. Sometimes if a lender is local, they may just transport the painting in the back seat of their car, which is perfectly fine. However, we’ll pack it up safely for its return trip home. We give it the same care as if it were being returned to a place like Yale or VMFA.

Wednesday, March 25

Halfway through the week and halfway through packing, the shipment of Tucker Smith paintings from the NMWA arrived. Our receiving area was soon flooded with crates. I started laughing that hysterical laughter one does when the abstract becomes reality. I knew this was a large exhibition and I knew how many crates would be arriving but seeing it made my eyes bulge.

Also, because of all the packing and shipments, I was still technically two exhibitions behind the rest of the staff. So whilst Claudia, Valerie, and Cynthia Kurtz, our new Marketing Manager (and previous NSLM intern!), were firmly in the world of Tucker Smith, I was still knee-deep in Wyeth and Steeplechase. When Cynthia referred to The Refuge, the massive 45 ¼ x 129 ½ painting by Smith that had just arrived, I was racking my brain for a painting of the same name in one of the previous exhibitions.

We never open art upon arrival. It needs to acclimate. This was fine since we still had to finish with Steeplechase. Thank goodness for comfy sneakers. By the end of the week, Alex and I finished not only the packing of the exhibition, but an entire season of the Criminal Broads podcast.

Empty Steeplechase walls

Monday, March 29

And so the start of return shipments and local deliveries. We tend to use a few different companies because of where they can make deliveries. The interesting part of shipping logistics is to ensure that there is not a double booking for the trucks, but we can only plan so much because, just like the cable company, they provide a window of time rather than a specific one.

Always keeping myself on my toes, we had several pickups that morning, as well as a local delivery. Everyone was on the earlier side of the window which normally is perfect, but because of scheduling for the local transport, I had to pull Claudia away from her mountain of work to handle the pickup. Thankfully, it all went off without a hitch.

And now I could finally devote my attention to Tucker Smith and his beautiful oeuvre. I have never been to the West. I am the stereotypical East Coaster – there’s the west coast, the east coast, and everything else in the middle. A terrible attitude and it (rightfully) rankles my Minnesota friends and family. This exhibition, though, has me wanting to visit Wyoming right now. Alex spent nine years in his previous life as a cowboy near where Smith painted many of the works we were unpacking.

Tucker Smith (American, b. 1940), The Season, 2005, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches, Collection of Beverly and Roe Hatlen

In between Poirot’s Finest Cases on audiobook, I enjoyed listening to Alex’s stories of being out west. In Rabbit Brush, Lupine, and Sage which features an entire foreground of sagebrush, he told me of the beautiful scent released as he rode through it. He confirmed that the expansive blue sky that goes on forever in the aptly titled Big Sky is just as wonderous as Smith depicts it. As Alex looked at The Branding, I learned more about castration than I needed to know. I also learned how to not frighten moose and that “butte” is pronounced “beau-t.”

Tucker Smith (American, b. 1940), The Branding, 1988, oil on canvas, Collection of Curtice and Bob McCloy

The exhibition was not even officially open yet and something I had already noticed was how evocative the paintings are. People see them and immediately launch into their own stories about muleys, rams, and bears. Claudia told us about a childhood family trip out west. A board member who happened to be at the museum told us of the moose he saw on his visits to Yellowstone. These paintings with their rich colors and unique perspectives bring those memories alive for the viewer in a way I have not experienced at the NSLM before.

Tucker Smith (American, b. 1940), Big Sky, 1990, 12 x 14 inches, oil on canvas, Collection of Curice and Bob McCloy

An unofficial element of the NSLM mission is the conservation and preservation of our natural landscapes and this exhibition really underlines that. It shows the importance of preserved spaces for both the land and the animals. Many of the human figures Smith includes in his landscapes show us how small we truly are, but also how big our responsibility is to be capable stewards of such magnificent places.

Friday, April 9

Tucker Smith: A Celebration of Nature is officially open! Be sure to see this stunning retrospective before it closes on August 22. Reserve your tickets online.


Having not ventured to the West beyond a handful of trips to Arizona, it made me want to rent an RV and soak up the landscape. Consider this my two weeks notice, boss. I’m off to ride into that big Wyoming sky.

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

The old adage goes, “Opportunity knocks but once,” but sometimes it’s twice. Two-weekends ago we had the second opportunity to showcase the National Sporting Library & Museum at the Washington Winter Show (WWS). Each year they invite a museum to exhibit at American University’s Katzen Center in Washington, DC, during their charity antique show in January. This year, they ventured into the virtual world due to COVID-19 with a theme of “@Home with the Washington Winter Show” and welcomed previous exhibitors to present live tours and pre-recorded segments. We went live in the Library (thanks to Clarice & Robert H. Smith Educator Valerie Peacock’s camerawork) and uploaded a virtual 360° guided tour of our current exhibition, Thrill of the ‘Chace: Steeplechase in Art.

Screen shot of virtual 360° guided tour of Thrill of the ‘Chace: Steeplechase in Art

Coincidentally, WWS’s theme eight years ago was “The Thrill of the Chase,” and we fit right in. NSLM was asked to curate the exhibition at the Katzen Center, and we jumped at the opportunity. We highlighted art and books including our 49-inch-long silver coach which was even featured on the front cover of the catalogue, and I wrote an essay, “Sporting Pastimes: Art & Objects of Leisure.” It was a great chance to introduce NSLM’s then-new Museum, which had just opened a little over a year earlier, to a broader audience. A primer on the history of five country sports, the exhibit was broken up into five sections: angling, wingshooting, coaching, foxhunting, and horse racing.

2013 Washington Winter Show catalogue front cover featuring: Park Drag Tabletop Centerpiece, c. 1910, English sterling silver on a marble and wooden base, complete with custom-built, mahogany travel case made by Elkington & Co. Ltd. Silversmiths, London (not pictured), 17 ½ x 41 ½ x 9 ½ inches (excluding the base)
Museum purchase with funds donated by: Hector Alcalde, Helen K. Groves, Manuel H. Johnson, Jacqueline B. Mars and Jacqueline L. Ohrstrom, 2011

The NSLM’s English sterling silver model of a park drag was the centerpiece of the installation, surrounded by a decorative coaching horn inscribed on the bell “London to Bristol 1805” and a set of four coaching prints after Henri D’Ainecy, Comte de Montpezat (French, 1817-1859), La Vie d’un Gentilhomme en Toutes Saisons: Printemps, Été, Automne, and Hiver. Published in 1846, the title of the set translates to the “Life of a Gentleman in All Seasons” and depicts pleasure driving in spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

Coaching display at the 2013 Washington Winter Show

Because the installation was only on view for four days, it allowed us to install several books in fanned positions to reveal their fore-edge paintings. Always popular on a rare books tour, these curiosities are made by clamping a book in a vise and painting a scene with watercolor on the edge. Once completed, the book is returned to its natural position, and the page ends are gilt, masking the painting in the book’s natural position.

Fore-edge books from the John H. and Martha Daniels Collection in the 2013 Washington Show

It was an exciting time for the growth of NSLM’s art collection. At the center of the angling section in the exhibit was The Day’s Catch, 1864, by 19th century British artist John Bucknell Russell, one of a pair by the artist which had been recently donated by Dr. & Mrs. Timothy J. Greenan. Still-life paintings were popularized in Britain in the mid-1800s, and Russell’s highly detailed compositions of arranged fish on a riverbank were academic exercises showing his mastery in painting every glistening fish scale.

John Bucknell Russell (British, c. 1819 – 1893), Day’s Catch, 1864; oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches; Gift of
Dr. and Mrs. Timothy J. Greenan, 2011

Also on view were a set of three prints (after) Samuel Howitt (English, c. 1765 – 1822), Pheasant Shooting, Partridge Shooting, and Wild Duck Shooting. The 1809 first edition aquatints were among an impressive donation of 120 early 19th-century fine prints given to NSLM by Mr. and Mrs. Norman R. Bobins in 2012. The collection reflects the popularity country pursuits had attained across Britain and a revival of fine print making during this era.

Wingshooting section in 2013 Washington Winter Show with set of Samuel Howitt prints at left.

One of the museum collection favorites was also prominently on view, John Emms, Foxhounds and Terrier in a Stable Interior, 1878. The large oil painting set the bar for the growth of the collection as part of an incredibly generous donation of 15 British sporting artworks made by Felicia Warburg Rogan in 2008. Alongside the Emms hung a painting by American artist Franklin Brooke Voss, Portrait of Elida B. Langley, Aside on Sandown, 1921. The early 20th-century painting of a smartly turned out sidesaddle rider, represents the end of the time period in which highly skilled women participated in hunting, predominantly riding aside instead of astride.

FranlJohn Emms (English, 1841-1912), Foxhounds and Terrier in a Stable Interior, 1878, oil on canvas
39 x 52 inches, Gift of Felicia Warburg Rogan, 2008
Foxhunting Section in the 2013 Washington Winter Show

In the exhibit, the Emms was also flanked by an 1850s light-blue hunt vest embroidered with running foxes and fox masks; the riding boots of philanthropist, sportsman, and art collector Paul Mellon; and a natural horn manufactured in 1898 by Coesnon & Cie., Paris. The latter is a style of large circular or “curly” horn used in stag hunts and in early English foxhunts before the traditional, straight short horn began to be adopted towards the end of the 17th century. While the NSLM’s Collecting Plan focuses on fine art, we have accepted a few objects such as these into the collection as well.

Detail of: British, mid-19th century, foxhunting vest, cotton on canvas lined with dark blue, medium blue and neutral polished cotton, brown leather facing, and brass buttons, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Timothy J. Greenan, 2011

The racing section included loans relating to famed Triple Crown winner Secretariat. The iconic blue and white checked silks of Penny Chenery’s stable from Washington & Lee University collection drew viewers’ attention. Also selected for the display was Proctor Knott (The First Futurity, 1888, Jerome Park, Sheepshead Bay, a Close Finish), c. 1888, by Louis Maurer (American, 1832 – 1932). It is a study for the large painting of the first Futurity Stakes held in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s collection in Saratoga, NY. Shelby “Pike” Barnes is shown in the lead astride the bay racehorse Proctor Knott. Barnes was the leading North American jockey in both 1888 and 1889 and was the first jockey to win over 200 races in a year. Important scholarship (much of it done at the NSLM’s Library) has established the legacy of the highly-accomplished African-American jockeys like Barnes who who dominated the sport in the late 19th century and were sadly driven out by Jim Crow laws.

Horse Racing section in 2013 Washington Winter Show

It was an invaluable experience working on the exhibit in 2013, although I hesitate to call it “work.” This year’s show was surprisingly enjoyable as well—one “for the books” as they say. Just as with everything else related to the pandemic, it was a unique opportunity to bring in new friends and showcase what our organization has to offer. Here’s to a strong start to 2021!

2013 Washington Winter Show co-chair Mason Blavin, a much younger me; Jonathan Willen, Executive Director of the Washington Winter Show; and 2013 Co-Chair Anne Elmore

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

As the mission of the NSLM states, we are committed to “preserve, promote, and share the literature, art, and culture of equestrian, angling, and field sports.” Two new temporary exhibitions cover all three of these areas.

The National Sporting Library & Museum reopened in limited scope on Friday, July 17. Greeting visitors in Gallery 1 is In Bronze: Herbert Haseltine featuring two new acquisitions: a pair of bronzes by American sculptor Herbert Haseltine (1877-1962), Percheron Stallion: Rhum and Percheron Messaline: Mare and Foal. They are part of the British Champion Animals series made up of 19 sculptures of prizewinning livestock including cattle, sheep, pigs, and horses created by Haseltine beginning in 1920.

In Bronze: Herbert Haseltine, on view until August 23, 2020.

Though several quarter-scale size sculptures were produced (one of which is also in the exhibit, Polo Pony: Perfection), it is believed that Haseltine produced only one complete third-scale set. It was purchased by Marshall Field in 1933 for Chicago’s Field Museum and then purchased by Paul Mellon in 1986, who donated them to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The current exhibition, open only until August 23, places the Percherons within the context of other Haseltine sculptures in the NSLM’s permanent collection. The earliest sculptures on display are a pair of Portuguese Rejoneadores, horse-riding bullfighters. From there, Haseltine’s evolution as an artist can be followed through the room – the influence of Egyptian art and his experimentation with colors, sizes, and technique.

Portuguese Rejoneadores, a pair modeled 1921, gilded bronze, 12 3/4 x 11 1/4 x 4 3/4 inches, Gift of the Estate of Milton Ritzenberg, 2018.

In 1913, Haseltine began his quest to create his version of the quintessential Thoroughbred, inspired by the many horses that impressed him. Over the span of three decades, he continued to fine tune this composite concept, like an equine Dr. Frankenstein. One of those models is in this exhibition entitled The Thoroughbred and dated 1928. Finally, in 1949, he was satisfied with the result. That version, aptly named The Perfect Thoroughbred, sits next to 1928 model. See if you can spot some of the changes!

(left) The Thoroughbred, 1928, bronze on marble, 10 x 13 1/4 x 4 inches, on loan from a Private Collection; (right) The Thoroughbred Horse: The Perfect Thoroughbred, 1949, bronze, 13 x 14 x 5 5/16 inches, Gift of Edward H. Tuck, 2001

The second exhibition currently on view focuses on angling and a glimpse of field sports. Last fall, artist Dale Weiler and his wife, conservationist Loti Wood, generously donated one of his sculptures, as well as a watercolor by his father Milton Weiler (American, 1910-1974). The subject of both the watercolor, Matapedia Magic, and the sculpture, In Your Dreams, is fishing. These serve as a pleasant introduction for the next gallery, which feature paintings by Frank Weston Benson (American, 1862-1951) and Ogden Minton Pleissner (American, 1905-1983).

(left) Milton C. Weiler, Matapedia Magic, 1968 watercolor, 30 x 37 inches, Gift of Loti Woods and Dale Weiler, 2019; (right) Dale Weiler, In Your Dreams, cast 2009 bronze, 11 x 21 x 20 inches, Gift of Loti Woods and Dale Weiler, 2019

Within this gallery are five paintings thoughtfully donated by two different collectors, a private collector and Mrs. Frederic C. Hamilton. Made up of both oil on canvas and watercolors, the mediums add to the tone of the scenes. The thicker application of oils on Pleissner’s Heavy Water, St. John contribute further build-up to the moment of anticipation. If the brushstrokes had been lighter or looser, it could completely change the painting’s emotional charge. Likewise, the serene colors in Benson’s watercolor Lower Camp Pool provide a peaceful, almost lazy, mood. Amongst the angling artworks is a wingshooting scene, a watercolor by Benson in beautiful calming shades of blue.

From left to right: Ogden Minton Pleissner, Heavy Water, St. John, 20th century watercolor, 19 x 30 inches, Gift from a Private Collection, 2020; Ogden Minton Pleissner, Fisherman on the George Pool, 20th century watercolor on paper, 18 x 28 inches, Gift from a Private Collection, 2020; Ogden Minton Pleissner, The Bridge Pool, Ballynahinch, 20th century oil on canvas, 24 x 40 inches, Gift from a Private Collection, 2020; Frank W. Benson, Lower Camp Pool, 1928 oil on canvas, 32 x 40 inches, Gift from a Private Collection, 2020; and Frank W. Benson, Setting Out, 1926 watercolor on paper, 18 3/4 x 28 3/4 inches, Gift of Mrs. Frederic C. Hamilton, 2020

Along with the Weiler artworks, these paintings also highlight a theme of conservation. They were all (except for the sculpture) created during the mid-20th century when there seemed to be a nostalgia for the countryside and a yearning for nature. These paintings remind us to absorb what Mother Earth has to give us: to appreciate her abundance, yet leave no trace that we’ve visited.

In Bronze: Herbert Haseltine is only on view until the end of summer so be sure to see this unique exhibition of ten (!!!!) Haseltine sculptures all in one place. To purchase tickets and view our new safety requirements, please visit our website (click here).

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

It would have been easy for Jamie Wyeth to rest on the laurels of his family’s legacy and The Brandywine Tradition that grounded him. As a third-generation painter, he is the son of famed Andrew Wyeth and taught by his aunt, Carolyn Wyeth, who in turn had honed her talent by learning from Jamie’s grandfather, Newell Convers Wyeth. Jamie would have easily attained commercial success staying in this lane. But he didn’t.

Wyeth said in an interview in 2003, “I’m not interested in interesting faces. What I am interested in is a face that I’ve known for years, something that I can go beyond just the face and go into the head of the person.”[1] It is then completely unsurprising that he continually returned to his wife and muse Phyllis Mills Wyeth as a sitter.

Jamie Wyeth (American, b. 1946), …And Then Into the Deep Gorge, 1975, oil on canvas, 36 x 46 inches, Collection of Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth Collection

Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration, the exhibition organized by the Brandywine River Museum of Art currently at the National Sporting Library & Museum, is a beautiful tribute celebrating Phyllis Wyeth’s spirit. (To read more about the Wyeths’ life together and her equestrian pursuits, read the blog, Phyllis Mills Wyeth Comes Home) The paintings and works on paper, however, also develop a picture of the directions Jamie Wyeth’s artistic path took over a span of fifty years.

Cover of Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration hardbound exhibition catalogue

Wyeth once said he gravitated toward oil paints because they looked “edible.”[2] While his painter’s palette, arguably, may not have changed much over the years, with juicy dollops of pure pigment, the way he mixed or didn’t mix them certainly did. He evolved from the more earthy colors of his earlier work to embracing bolder and bolder colors. Photographer Robert Weingarten immortalized Wyeth’s palette in 2005 as part of a series of photographs of various accomplished artists’ palettes. The lush green at top left of the image below is then in the words of Director of the Brandywine River Museum of Art Thomas Padon, “Phyllis’s Green.” Wyeth selected a vibrant, almost neon green for the front cover of the exhibition’s catalogue to represent his wife.

Robert Weingarten (American, b. 1941) Palette Series: Jamie Wyeth #1, 2005, Archival pigment print on Epson Ultra Smooth Fine Art paper, 21 1/4 × 30 inches, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser, 2016.129.4 © Robert Weingarten [source: https://collections.artsmia.org/art/126766/palette-series-jamie-wyeth-1-robert-weingarten]

Is there symbolism in the green? It is a color that comes to the fore more and more in paintings of Phyllis over time. It is a hue that reverberates spring, rebirth, and vitality.

Southern Light, 1994, documents Phyllis’s recovery from a significant surgery, yet another battle hard-fought with the spinal cord injury she sustained in a car accident when she was 20 years old. She had been unsure if she would be able to make the trip to Southern Island, Maine, again, but she was able to recuperate there.[3] In the middle of the composition with a soft palette, is a swirling pop of color, the churning green water seen through the window in the distance.

Jamie Wyeth (American, b. 1946) Southern Light, 1994, enamel and oil on board, 36 x 48 inches, on loan from The Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth Collection

Painted 20 years later, Night Vision, 2002, is on the surface a commemoration of the Vietnam War. It is an artistic interpretation of the view through night vision equipment. Phyllis Wyeth, however, was a sitter for it: she is also the determined soldier at the center of this green and yellow starry, starry, night. At the time she would have been about 62 years old and in a wheelchair.

Jamie Wyeth (American, b. 1946) Night Vision, 2002, oil on canvas, 39 ¼ x 29 ¼ inches, on loan from The Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth Collection

Jamie completed Catching Pollen, 2012, a decade later. For it, he revisited a painting he had done in 2004, Catching Snowflakes. Both recall a young and exuberant Phyllis, but the 2012 version’s palette electrifies the scene. It is a brilliant color study; the riotous backlit yellows and greens offset the cool purples in the foreground, and the red flower anchors the subject’s face at the center.

Jamie Wyeth (American, b. 1946) Catachin Pollen, 2012, enamel, oil, and gesso on canvas, 60 x 40 inches, on loan from The Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth Collection

When Phyllis passed away, Jamie retouched a painting for Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration, Winner’s Circle, first completed in 2012. In contemplating the direction of his palette choices, I found the changes striking. I had not seen the work before the exhibition and was privileged to view an image of the original version. The vivid greens added over shades of browns are a far cry from Jamie’s Brandywine roots: the re-touch completely transforms the composition with a transcendental halo, the pièce de résistance of a life well lived and well-painted as only Jamie Wyeth could, over a lifetime of going into the head of Phyllis Wyeth.

Jamie Wyeth (American, b. 1946), Winner’s Circle, Belmont Stakes, 2012/2019, oil and acrylic on panel, 36 x 30 inches, Collection of Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth Collection

“Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration” is on view through August 30, 2020. It was organized by the Brandywine River Museum of Art and was generously underwritten at NSLM by Jacqueline B. Mars.


[1] Jamie Wyeth: Art as Witness to History, (The Kennedy Center Performing Arts Series, 15 May 2003), Web, 25 May 2020, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN7uHQUYcFE>
[2] David Houston, Jamie Wyeth, (Boston: MFA Publications, 2014), 29
[3] Ibid., 128


pfeiffer

Claudia Pfeiffer is the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Curator at the National Sporting Library & Museum and has been with the organization since the position was first 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

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.

Jean Eleanor Bowman (American, 1917-1994) Eglinton and Caledon Hunt with Major Charles Kindersley as M.F.H.and Richard Kindersley as Whipper in, 1963 oil on canvas, 27 1/4 x 43 1/2 inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Lynne Kindersley Dole, 2019
Detail of the artist’s distinctive signature, Eglinton and Caledon Hunt with Major Charles Kindersley as M.F.H.and Richard Kindersley as Whipper in

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.

Clarice Smith (American, b.1933) Gallop, 2009, oil with gold and copper leaf on canvas, on 5-paneled screen, 50 x 77 ½ inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Clarice Smith, 2015 © Clarice Smith

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:

Ellen Emmet Rand (American, 1875-1941), Emily Bedford Davie, 1933, oil on canvas, 28 1/2 x 19 inches, Collection of great-nephew B. McCashin

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

Occasionally while working with a book or object I have the chance to find out a great deal about the person that created it. This happened again recently during my work on our upcoming Angling in Special Collections exhibit. One element of the exhibition is a hand-made bamboo fly rod made by Henry Woolman, III. Mr. Woolman lived and worked in the area around the NSLM for many years and it was suggested to me that I reach out to his widow, Marcia Woolman, for information about him to use on the label that will accompany his fly rod in our exhibition. I did so and discovered that Hank was not only a rod maker, fly tier, and fisherman, but also enjoyed foxhunting, hound judging, and art. There was far too much information to include on the exhibit label so I offered Marcia the opportunity to talk about her late husband and their life together here on the NSLM’s blog. She took me up on that offer and what follows is her description of Hank.


Hank Woolman. Image from his obituary in The Fauquier Times, July 29, 2019.

Henry N. Woolman III, 11/21/1931 to 7/27/2019 by Marcia Woolman

Hank Woolman, a man with many talents and interests. Hank taught himself to do many of the things that filled his life. He was a country gentleman, and all his complex hobbies related to the outdoors and country life. Hank was a master of the skills he focused on in pursuit of a full life. He made cane (bamboo) rods for over 40 years, which he learned to do from reading a book by Garrison, and by trial and error he became a Master craftsman. A self-taught fly fisherman and fly tier which he eventually turned into a business in Middleburg called “The Outdoorsman.” This eventually led to having a Flyfishing School and guiding, both in Virginia and Montana where he and fellow angler, wife, Marcia had a summer home.

Hank in the early stages of rod making. Splitting the culm of cane for a bamboo rod. Photo courtesy of John Ross.

Hank’s complete submersion in his craft took him into the world of beautiful rods, tying the perfect fly to find and catch native fish, and becoming part of the rarified group of bamboo rod makers. He was selected to be one of the Makers when he attended a Cane Rod Makers symposium each summer in Grayling, MI, along the famous Au Sable River in the town where Trout Unlimited was founded over 60 years ago. In the late 1990’s, this group of rod builders, decided to do a fund raiser called “The Makers Rod.” Several selected rod builders were invited to make one strip for “The Makers Rod” and the pieces were sent to be assembled into one cane rod to be chanced off at the Symposium the following summer. What a great honor to be one of the chosen in this exceptional group of talented men.

Hank at work creating a rod. Photo courtesy of John Ross.

Hank possessed another talent that comes to some effortlessly, like a natural gift, and to the rest of us it may never come. Defining this talent; it is that inner communication with the natural word, especially that of the fox and hound relationship. At a young age of about 40 he was asked to be Master of the Orange County Hounds (OCH). He had the gift of always knowing where he was, where a fox could be found, and when the chase began, he knew where it would probably go. As an MFH, he needed that gift. He remained MFH at OCH until 1971 when a farming accident took his right hand. But as you can tell from the bamboo rod making, he was determined not to change his outdoor life as he mastered all aspects of fishing and hunting hounds with only his left hand.  Hank went on to fox hunt as the Huntsman for Eve Fout’s MOC Beagles, to teach the local children to safely fox hunt and learn all the protocols required. All the while he trained both the hounds and his horses. Last, but not least Hank worked endlessly to do it all well.

The silver platter pictured here is the Julian M. Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Marshall served as President of the Bryn Marw Hound Show Association from 1983 to 1987 and as Honorary Chair from 1988 to 1999. After Mr. Marshall’s death the family inaugurated the award, which is presented by a member of the Marshall family, to a living individual who is selected for their outstanding contribution to hounds and hunting. Hank was awarded the Julian M. Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Photo courtesy of Marcia Woolman.

But there is more…. Shortly after leaving Johns Hopkins with no fingers, with just, what he referred to, as his “paw,” he began using pencil drawing to develop and fine tune his ability to use his left hand so he could return to his fishing hobbies. Let’s look at each of these endeavors as he salvaged each by determination that never diminished the rest of his life. At the time of his accident he was starting into cane rod making. After he mastered the fundamentals, he started experimenting with creating his own tapers which eventually grew into stiffer rods, rather than the traditional softer early cane rods. He preferred to finish his rods by flaming them slightly with a blow torch rather than leave them the natural light blond color. Hank had rods in both finishes.

Before he took up rod making, he was an accomplished fly tier and fisherman, even identifying a unique sub species of mayfly that used his Woolman name in its identity. After losing his hand he continued tying beautiful dry flies and other aquatic life like nymphs, crustaceans and small fish imitations. It was interesting to see how he managed to tie one of these small imitations onto his fly line. He stuck the pointed end of the fly into the cork on the rod handle which held it still, while he maneuvered his fingers to tie the required knot for that task, as well as all other fishing knots on leaders so thin the fish could see only the fly.

As years passed and more time to be an artist became possible, Hank took some lessons locally, and moved from pencils, charcoal, and watercolors to oil painting. He especially found time and enjoyment in his later years in Yellowstone where landscapes became his favorite. Many were near his Montana summer home were there were endless choices of geological features, wildlife, and vast views of nearby mountains. His life was like a kaleidoscope in its variety of ways to use his many talents. As his dear friend, Eve Fout, once said, “Hank can do more with one hand than most of us can do with two.” She was sure right about that!


Bamboo fly rod made by Hank Woolman. The gift of Mrs. Jacqueline B. Mars.

If you would like to see NSLM’s Woolman rod please plan to visit the Angling in Special Collections exhibition in the Library’s Forrest E. Mars, Sr. Exhibit Hall located in the Library’s lower level. The exhibit features rare books on angling topics, including our first edition of The Compleat Angler, more than 50 tied flies from our George Chapman collection, angling themed artwork from the Museum’s collection, and photos of best catches submitted from the public especially for this exhibition. Angling in Special Collections will run through August 2020.


Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Technical Services Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. 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 Erica by e-mail.

I wanted to introduce two new acquisitions that recently joined out permanent collection. In November 2019, the NSLM became the proud stewards of two third-scale bronzes by the sculptor Herbert Haseltine (American, 1877-1962). They arrived on-site in January to great fanfare from staff. And here they are!


On the right is Percheron Mare: Messaline and Foal and on the left is Percheron Stallion: Rhum. These two were part of a series of nineteen sculptures based on prized domestic animals, known as the “British Champion Animals.” In 1996, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts published a book on the series that included images of the sculptures accompanied by passages from Haseltine’s journals that describe meeting each of his subjects and his sense of their personalities. Much of the information here comes from that publication.

The subjects for Rhum and Messaline and Foal were owned by Mrs. Robert Emmet. Rhum won at the La Mortagne Show, 1919; First and Champion at the Royal Agricultural Society of England, 1921, 1922, and 1923; and was First and Champion at the Norwich Stallion Show, 1922, 1923.[1] Messaline won First at the La Mortagne Show, 1917, 1918, and 1919; First Show of the Royal Counties Agricultural Society, 1920; First and Group Prize at the Show of the Norfolk Agricultural Society, 1920; First at the Show of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, 1920; First Moreton-in-the-Marsh, 1920; First and Champion at the Show o the Royal Agricultural Society of England, 1921, 1922.[2]



Haseltine traveled to the Emmets’ home in Warwickshire, England to meet his models. The sculptor was clearly very impressed with his accommodations as he noted that each bedroom has its own bathroom.

Describing the stallion, Haseltine wrote, Rhum was “a grand specimen of Percherons – dappled grey, heavy of bone with powerful quarters, spirited head, a large expressive eye, and delicately shaped ears.”[3] Apparently Rhum was undisturbed by the artist, allowing him to take measurements and trace Rhum’s hooves. Haseltine also described the moment he chose to depict, “I represented the magnificent Rhum with head erect and turned slightly to the left, with his eyes accompanying this movement. His lips were beginning to quiver, preparatory to neighing, as he would do when he heard the mares being turned out in the nearby pastures.”[4]

Though the mare was “relaxed and patient-looking,” the foal took a little more patience. According to Haseltine, the foal “was the most difficult to model; he was always hiding behind his mother, and even when held by an obliging groom, was never still for one instance.” Looking at the model of foal, you can see the skittishness in his eyes. As Haseltine wrote, he “managed to convey the spirit of startled effrontery mingled with fear, as he pressed himself against the spacious flank of his protectress.”


Haseltine originally conceived of this as a group sculpture with all three horses together. Cast in plaster of Paris and covered in silver leaf, he exhibited them together at the George Petit Gallery in Paris in 1925 but decided to make them more true in-the-round sculptures and separated them as you see now.[5] Sculptures in-the-round are meant to be walked around and viewed from several different perspectives and he felt that grouped together, it didn’t allow for the same experience.


To give you an idea of their size, here they are next to Art Handler Alex.

Several versions in various mediums and sizes were commissioned by individuals and museums, which were detailed in Haseltine’s memoirs. There are six cast at this third-scale size.[6] The ones now in NSLM’s collection were commissioned from the artist by Mrs. Emmet. Both have a green-brown patina and Rhum has parcel-gilt bronze on his braid. They sit on a stone base with inscriptions that detail each horse’s pedigree, owner, and accolades with dates, along with the artist’s signature.


We look forward to sharing these with you once we reopen! Keep checking our Facebook and Instagram for updates and posts on objects in our collections and fun activities.

A hearty thank you to our donors and friends who assisted with this acquisition.

[1] https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=6235353&lid=1

[2] Malcolm Cormick and Herbert Haseltine, Champion Animals: Sculptures by Herbert Haseltine, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1996

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=6235353&lid=1

[6] https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=6235354&lid=1

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

   By Tracy A. Brown

Frederick Macmonnies (American, 1863–1937), Red-Haired Student at Easel, 1898-99,
oil on canvas, 32 x 21 ¼ inches, Private Collection

Reading other people’s diaries has long been a guilty pleasure of mine. Thanks to the publishing of their private writings, I’ve painted along with Alfred Munnings, peeked at the tortured existences of John Cheever and Virginia Woolf, and ventured into Studio 54 with Andy Warhol—to name just a few. So when NSLM’s George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Curator Claudia Pfeiffer asked me to transcribe the portrait painter Ellen Emmet Rand’s handwritten diaries in preparation for the Leading The Field: Ellen Emmet Rand exhibition now on view through March 22, 2020, it was my dream job come true–not only for the vicarious thrill, but for the honor of being part of the behind-the-scenes preparation of an NSLM exhibition.

In 2016, Claudia had painstakingly photographed Rand’s diaries (held in the University of Connecticut’s Archives and Special Collections*) page by page, and for the next couple of years a few of us Visitor Services Associates attempted to decipher Rand’s handwriting—which was no easy task. As Rand probably didn’t foresee her diaries being transcribed or published, she was a bit fast and loose with the punctuation and spelling. But apparently reading my grandmother’s “chicken-scratch” letters as a child had prepared me well, and I enjoyed solving the puzzle of every sentence. It helped that much of Rand’s vocabulary was from my grandparent’s era, as well: photographs were “Kodaks,” sick people felt “punk,” odd ones were “queer,” and most children “cunning.” She wrote descriptively about her portrait subjects, and was often amusing:

Thursday, May 23, 1935

“I worked very hard today, + if I did not make the portraits good, at any rate I made them liked by the family – I got Mr Clay about finished, he has been too ravishing all day, with twinkling eyes + a running nose, humming Yankee doodle perfectly in tune. I’ve yet to see his equal for charm.”

History is not a topic I’ve studied with enthusiasm in the past, but through Rand’s diaries I got a personal account of the news of the day, such as the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and trial (at which Rand was in the audience sketching), the Hindenburg disaster and disappearance of Amelia Earhart, as well as the crash of the stock market, the Great Depression, and the events in Europe leading up to WWII. Rand was invested in not only her family, community, and church, but the happenings of the world at large:

Tuesday, December 31, 1940

 “The war news is of such a nature that just today I did not turn on the radio much – just too disheartening…how can we be cheerful with the world in such a terrible state + England most of all – humans are strange things + will dance to the bitter end + insist on happiness, until it is taken by force.”

I’d thought the diaries would be largely about art, since Rand was a hugely successful painter. But over the years painting seems to have become chiefly a business to her, means to badly-needed income to support her family. As the effects of the Great Depression were realized, her worry became palpable. She agonized over unpaid bills and overdue portrait fees and raged at income tax time. As a result, her health and spirits began to flag.

Saturday, January 7, 1933

“…life on the whole has such a precarious undertone that at times it is a bit unreal & I don’t dare to enjoy it — I realize that everything depends on me + my work is so threatened just now.”

detail of Wednesday, March 10, 1937 diary entry by Ellen Emmet Rand (American, 1875–1941) with income tax cartoon

Monday, November 13, 1939

“…I am ashamed that my life is so controlled by my finances my happiness + content + discontent are all trackable to whether or not I have the price, not to indulge but just to live + pay bills.”

Surprisingly, Rand was largely without ego for one so successful; even in her private diary she never bragged.

Tuesday, April 18, 1933

“…I dropped my card at the White House, it may and it may not bear fruit, at any rate it’s the best I could do.”

Wednesday, August 9, 1933

“…Today was mostly notable for the fact that I did get a real honest to god order to paint President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the White House. I had a letter from Eleanor Roosevelt in which she said that he wanted me to paint him …I may go over there tomorrow to see him, or at least see the light.” 

Friday, November 24, 1933

…I worked practically all day on F.D.R’s portrait + if I’m not greatly mistaken I improved it, but I may be greatly mistaken.”

Figure 5. “Posing for Official White House Portrait,” The Hartford Courant, September 3, 1933.
Published in 2015, Enabling Authority: Ellen Emmet Rand, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the Power of Portraiture by Emily M Mazzola

It was difficult to witness Rand’s self-esteem decline over the years:

Friday, April 21, 1933

“I rose up early, with something like pessimism in my chest – feeling that my portrait was not too good…last night I made a sketch of myself at about 12.30 in the mirror, just to get my hand in, it was quite good and quite like me but so hideous that it would knock your eye out.”

Tuesday, April 10, 1934

“The first shock I got today was my picture in both Herald Tribune + Times both photos were so ugly that I could not shake it off but just felt hideous all day, in spite of which I brought a new… dress…trying to get some self respect I suppose, my looks are getting so offensive to me that I can no longer laugh it off.”

The diaries are chock full of minutiae, as Rand habitually recorded not only the comings and goings of her family and various guests, but also the more intimate ups and downs of married life. Rand’s portrait of William Blanchard Rand, her husband of 30 years, hangs at the top of the stairs in Leading The Field, and on my morning rounds through the museum I mutter a few choice words at him as I pass by—because I know intimately the pain and humiliation his dalliances and absences caused Rand, although she tried to rise above it:

Thursday, July 24, 1930 

“…I was out of sorts from early morning on account of not being able to locate Blanchard, + I am in a general sense enraged at his being at Lebanon so much of the time – Then I painted very indifferently and accomplished practically nothing.”

Thursday, February 1, 1934

“…Edith is of course going to Virginia with Blanchard. I wonder if she is planning to take my saddle as well as my husband, well I can’t do much about her taking him, or him taking her, but my saddle is still mine. “

Ellen Emmet Rand (American, 1875–1941), William Blanchard Rand, Esq. M.F.H. The Old Chatham, 1936, The William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut [image source: University of Connecticut website, Ellen Emmet Rand Gallery, https://benton.uconn.edu/ellen-emmet-rand-gallery/ ]

Of course there are two sides to every story, but I only have access to hers, and what an engrossing story it was. It pained me to reach the final entry—Thursday, May 8, 1941—when Rand abruptly announced the end of her daily record. She died a few months later. 

“I will close indefinitely writing my diary. I think I will begin again in July, my fingers are still queer + numb + though they hardly ever hurt, they are awkward when I write… It does not bother me to paint I am at it every day. Today was bad, in more ways than one. I got on poorly with M.W. Clement who posed rather spasmodically…The weather was poor…Well better luck will be reported when I take it up again. Anyway…tomorrow may be brighter – until probably July then goodbye.”

It’s my understanding that relatively few people have read Rand’s handwritten diaries, so I consider it a privilege to have helped transcribe them. I hope she doesn’t mind. And I hope visitors will come in droves to see her amazing work at NSLM.

*All quotes are from diaries held in the Ellen Emmet Rand Papers, Archives & Special Collections, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, Finding Aid


A person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera

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Tracy Brown is a Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts graduate and retired commercial artist-turned-fine artist. She has served the National Sporting Library & Museum as a Visitor Services Associate for nearly three years. She also rides, hikes, and raises Angus cattle on her farm in Culpeper, VA.

When I walked into Joan Danziger’s studio for the first time in 2016, it was magical. An authentic reflection of the artist’s creative output for the past four decades, it is both a working space and a showcase.

I was there to view a new wire and glass sculpture series Danziger had embarked upon of horses. I knew of her previous beetle sculptures, and my interest was piqued. Against a backdrop of over 50 sparkling insects hanging on a wall were two completed equine works, Riders of the Blue Spirit and Black Star, and a few others that had been started.

Black Star, 2016, metal and glass, 32 x 48 x 17 inches

They were something new, something different. As I walked around the sculptures taking pictures of them, I began to analyze how they were different. They were joyful, they made me smile, and they were free-spirited; there was something noteworthy about how they were created that made them unique.

Riders of the Blue Spirit, 2016, metal and glass, 29 x 40 x 29 inches

Danziger has completed 17 horses in the past three years since that visit, of which we have on loan 13 in her current solo exhibition at the National Sporting Library & Museum, Canter & Crawl: The Glass Sculpture of Joan Danziger. Her sometimes whimsical works have a freedom and airiness that is emphasized by their mixed media and construction. Each has a metal base with a soldered rod around which up to four layers of chicken wire are wrapped and shaped. Because her materials are so lightweight, Danziger can project her forms, sometimes as much as 3 feet, away from their footings. The negative space created around the works adds an almost ethereal quality. The support rods are mostly hidden in the finished sculpture, heightening the allusion of her horses as archetypes of dancing, galloping, jumping, and frolicking.

Golden Prince, 2017, metal, glass, dichroic glass, and brass wire, 39 x 53 x 25 inches

The contemporary sculptor’s pieces are obviously not meant to be perfect representations of horse anatomy but are an exploration of the spirit and nature of the horse. Danziger’s studio assistant Rebecca Long, a representational sculptor, creates the basic forms, and Danziger instructs her on elongating and exaggerating proportions. In her early career, Danziger was an abstract painter having studied at Cornell University. Relying on her knowledge of color theory and abstraction, she cuts and applies glass shards and braids wire to the forms to create mosaic surfaces that are an intriguing play of light, shadow, texture, translucency, and opacity.

Detail of Riders of the Blue Spirit, 2016

As a photographer, I can attest to how difficult it is to capture the nuances and subtleties of three-dimensional art in a photograph. We at NSLM are excited to be the first venue for Joan Danziger’s uplifting horse series so that visitors may experience these sparkling jewels in person. If you haven’t seen the exhibition yet and are within driving distance, I encourage you to visit Canter & Crawl before it closes on January 5, 2020.

Panorama of one of the Canter & Crawl galleries.

pfeiffer

Claudia Pfeiffer is the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Curator at the National Sporting Library & Museum and has been with the organization since the position was first 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

The permanent collection at the National Sporting Library & Museum has over 1,300 objects, including paintings, sculptures, works on paper, weathervanes, and dog collars. That’s right, dog collars.

Fifteen years ago, Dr. and Mrs. Tim Greenan began collecting dog collars, eventually amassing 187 of them. In 2014, they donated their entire collection to the NSLM, making the museum one of the largest (if not the largest) repositories in the world for these niche objects.

Dr. Greenan and the Curatorial department are developing an exhibition for 2022 that will display the objects alongside works of art that feature similar collars. The show will also highlight the relationship between dogs and humans and how that relationship has evolved throughout the centuries.

It’s hard to remember a time when dogs have not been Man’s Best Friend snuggling up on our laps and eagerly awaiting our return. Initially, they were trained for war, hunting, working, fighting, and scouting. The one shown below dates from the 18th century and is firmly utilitarian.  The spikes repelled attackers and protected the canine.

Dog Collar, 18th century, British, metal,
7 inches diameter x 1 inches wide

The brass one below would have been used for bear baiting or boar hunting. It is important to remember to not look at such collars through 21st-century eyes, but rather keep it in context of the 18th century. While we view it as cruel, bear baiting was considered a regular sport for all societal classes at the time. This collar is inscribed “WILLIAM ECKLES ISLAND HILL 1792.” The sharp sawtooth edges would have protected the neck of the dog wearing it.

Dog collar, 1792, British, brass,
6 inches diameter x 2 1/2 inches wide

The large horsehair collar below (and my favorite!) is from the 18th century, possibly from Goa, India. It is decorated with orange agate cabochons and is almost 12 inches in diameter. You can imagine that this is also quite heavy and would probably have been worn by a mastiff.

Dog collar, 18th century, possibly Goa, India, horsehair leather with agate cabochons and brass mounts with ring attachment
11 3/4 inches diameter x 2 7/8 inches height x 3 1/2 inches wide

As dogs were domesticated, they also served as a status symbol: the breed, pedigree, and, of course, the collar. Tiffany & Co., known for their wonderful and highly sought-after jewelry, also produced many everyday objects, including the below silver dog collar from 1831-1832. It is inscribed with the owner’s name, “GEO. H. INGERSOLL ./ NEW YORK.,” is adjustable, and came to the collection with the owner’s choice for a lock. It was not uncommon for dogs to be stolen, their identification to be removed, and then be resold on the street as dogs in need of a home. The lock served to discourage would-be thieves.

Dog collar, 1831-1832, American, silver,
4 1/4 inches diameter x 3 /4 inches wide

The inscriptions could sometimes be whimsical and silly.  The one below is from the 1920s or 1930s and reads, “I’M / H.O. SWINFORD’S DOG / WHOSE DOG / ARE YOU?”

Dog collar, 1920s or 1930s, American, leather, 4 inches diameter x
1 3/4 inches wide

The image below shows an Italian collar from the 1940s with distinctly Roman motifs. One crest has an image of Romulus, the founder of Rome, and his twin brother, Remus. The other crest shows the she-wolf that nursed the twins after they were abandoned. Incredibly appropriate motifs to adorn such an object!

Dog collar, 1940s, Italian, leather,
5 1/2 inches diameter x 1 3/4 inches wide

Stay tuned as we continue to learn about these everyday, yet fascinating, objects. We’ll be posting more teasers in preparation for the forthcoming 2022 exhibition.

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