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


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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.

By John H. Daniels Fellow, Professor Mike Cronin, Boston College

As an historian of Ireland, I have been the lead researcher in the Irish government’s digital history offering for the period 1913-23, namely the decade of upheaval that led to the creation of an independent Irish state. The project, named Century Ireland, explores the day to day history of Ireland in real-time on the web and twitter. The period begins in 1913, when Ireland was in a state of turmoil. The Home Rule bill, that would potentially lead to Ireland’s independence was working its way through the British Parliament, but had met with a violent response from the unionists of Ireland (those people, mainly Protestants, who wished to remain part of Britain). There was a major general strike that was ongoing in Dublin, a housing crisis that was symbolised by the deaths of seven people in the collapse of a tenement building, and levels of poverty and illness that led Dublin to be unfavourably compared to the destitution of contemporary Calcutta. To many observers in the press there was a sense that Ireland was in utter crisis, and many writers and politicians argued that the country was heading towards civil war. This would be fought by those nationalists and Catholics who desired an Ireland independent of Britain, against the unionists and Protestants who wanted Ireland to remain part of Britain and Empire. The threat of civil war was not idly made, as both sides had spent much of 1912 and 1913 arming themselves and organising their men into private armies.

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British politicians forced to forced to endure the stink of Campbell-Bannerman’s “cigar” of Irish Home Rule.  From Wikimedia Commons

In the event the threat of civil war in Ireland was side-lined by the outbreak of World War One. Some 210,000 Irishmen, both Catholics and Protestants fought against Germany and her allies, and some 35,000 of them would die. At the end of World War One, Ireland did not find peace. Between 1919 and 1921 a War of Independence was fought against the British. When this did not produce the complete freedom that many Irish had dreamt of, the nation drifted into civil war which would run from 1922 into 1923. The end result of this decade of upheaval was a tremendous loss of life, the destruction of much of the national infrastructure and a political settlement that created a truncated Irish independence. The southern twenty-six counties of Ireland were formed into a sovereign state, titled the Irish Free State, while the six northern counties, renamed Northern Ireland, remained part of Britain. The island was split by a border along ethno-sectarian lines. The Free State was predominantly Catholic, while in Northern Ireland a Protestant majority held sway. As a result of the fighting and upheaval many Protestants, around 60,000 people, could not see a future in the Irish Free State and left for Northern Ireland or a home elsewhere.

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Harry Worcester Smith of Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.A.  Master of the Westmeath Hunt, Ireland, 1912-1913, at the kennels.  From A Sporting Tour (1925), vol. 1, facing pg. 40.

So how is all this relevant to the collection at the National Sporting Library and Museum? I was fascinated to see, when I looked at the Library catalogue, that Harry Worcester Smith had visited Ireland and had written about his experiences. Travel writing is not unusual, but the date of Smith’s journey and the social world into which he entered were extraordinary. Ireland had been in a state of political and economic turmoil ever since the Great Famine of 1845-51. Indeed, as one writer noted in the pages of Baily’s Magazine of Sport and Pastimes in 1896, the upheavals in the country meant that ‘the fair land of Erin is even now almost a terra incognita to the great majority of travellers.’ The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Houghton, had even gone so far to give the country the name ‘unvisited Ireland’. That Smith chose to live in Ireland when he did is quite remarkable as it was not a country often embraced by outsiders.

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Title page to Harry Worcester Smith’s A Sporting Tour (1925)

Smith took the job of Master of the Westmeath Hunt for a year, arriving in Dublin in August 1912 and departing for England, and a stop at Aintree’s famous Grand National, in March 1913, before his return to the United States. What Smith offers in his two volume A Sporting Tour Through Ireland, England, Wales and France (Columbia: State Company, 1925) is a unique insight into the lives of a hunting and racing fraternity in 1912 and 1913 which, due to the chaos of the revolutionary period in Ireland and the loss of life during World War One, had all but disappeared by the time the book was published.

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Knockdrin Castle.  Westmeath Hounds, the Master Servants and American Horses. From A Sporting Tour (1925), vol. 1, facing pg. 16.

Against the backdrop of political upheaval and the gathering storm clouds of war, Smith enjoyed a full season of hunting in Ireland. He hunted across the island, in Westmeath where he was based, across to Galway and down to Cork and beyond. His book recounts not only the hunts themselves, but the hectic social life that accompanied the Irish hunt season. He wined and dined (and sometimes danced) with the elite of Anglo-Irish society. There were days at the Dublin Horse Show, masked balls at the Rotunda in Dublin, meetings with the British Vice Regent and dinners with the British military top brass stationed in Ireland. His book is a journey through the world of Irish Lords and Ladies, the landed elite whose presence in Ireland was so problematic to the nationalists who wanted independence for their nation. Smith, nor the Anglo-Irish elite he hunted and socialised with, would have realised it in 1912/13, but most of them were enjoying their last ever hunting season in Ireland.

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On the lawn.  Harry Worcester Smith, M. F. H., the late Sir Richard Levinge, the now Sir Richard Levinge and lady Levinge.  From A Sporting Tour (1925), vol. 1, facing pg. 42.

The description of the hunt balls in Volume 2, shortly before Smith leaves Ireland is most revealing. Drinks prior to the hunt ball of Smith’s own Westmeath hunt, for example, were hosted by Sir Richard and Lady Levinge at Knockdrin Castle, a 12,000-acre estate which had been in the family since the late seventeenth century. Sir Richard, the 10th Baronet of Knockdrin, like many of his social standing (including all four of his brothers), was among the first to sign up to fight in World War One. He was killed in the third month of the war, on 24 October 1914, by sniper fire in France. By the end of the war his younger brother had also been killed, and a further brother had lost his leg. In the wake of her husband’s death, Lady Levinge left Ireland for London and rented out Knockdrin. During World War Two it was commandeered by the Irish state to house troops, and finally, in 1946, the Levinge family sold the estate.

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Ringside Dublin Horse Show, 1912.  From A Sporting Tour, vol. 1, facing pg. 18.

Equally telling, in Volume 1, just after Smith’s arrival in Ireland, is his attendance at the famed Dublin Horse Show. There he met Lord Castlemaine of Moydrum Castle, which sat in the east of County Westmeath. Castlemaine was a subscriber to the Westmeath Hunt, and he and Smith would meet often during the latter’s stay in Ireland. Moydrum Castle had been completed in 1814, and Lord Castlemaine was the fifth baron to occupy, overseeing an estate of some 11,000 acres. On 4 July 1921, at the height of the Irish War of Independence, Republican forces targeted Moydrum Castle, as a symbol of British rule in Ireland, and set fire to the building, which was completely destroyed. The family left Ireland for Britain, and the remaining estate was taken off them by the new Irish state in the 1920s, and sold on. Between 1919 and 1923, approximately 170 of the ‘big houses’, with which Smith would have been so familiar, and wrote about in depth, were destroyed by military action.

Smith enjoyed a life as a huntsman and, as is clear in the holdings of the Library and Museum in Middleburg, was a prodigious collector and recorder of the hunting he experienced. His two volumes recounting his Irish experience fit into the pattern of his life. What makes the books, and the associated notes and photographs in the archive, is that Smith was observing a way of life, a social elite at play in Ireland, that would cease to exist. Smith was not simply recording the hunting life of Ireland in 1912/13, but rather he was unknowingly recording a collection of hunts, social and sporting events, people and buildings that would be largely erased from history by World War One and the specific train of events in Ireland between 1916 and 1923. This is a work and a collection to be treasured for unwittingly capturing a key moment, a last bright blooming, of an Anglo-Irish way of life.


Mike Cronin

 

Michael Cronin is a professor at Boston College, teaching in Dublin, Ireland.  During his John H. Daniels fellowship at NSLM he worked on a project about the life of James Brendan Connolly, the first modern Olympic champion.  His research at NSLM served to set Connolly’s life within the broader sporting context during the period from 1890 to 1914.

The National Sporting Library & Museum is proud to be the home of The Sportsman’s Portfolio of American Field Sports, published in Boston by M.M. Ballou in 1855. This is the second post of four discussing important works on Early American sport.

Image from The Sportsman’s Portfolio of American Field Sports, Boston: M.M. Ballou, 1855.

The Sportsman’s Portfolio is one of the rarest sporting books in America. When Ernest Gee commissioned the Derrydale Press to run a second print of the book in 1929, he noted that only three were known to exist, with all three existing only in private libraries. The book is short, at 44 pages (8vo), with a little over half of those pages being illustrated wood engravings depicting the popular outdoor sports of the time.

The publisher, Maturin Murray Ballou (1820-1895), was the son of the American Universalist clergyman, Hosea Ballou, who founded the Universalist Review, a popular Protestant publication. Publishing seems to have run in the family, for while he passed the exams and requirements to attend Harvard University, he chose not to attend and instead became a pioneer in American illustrated journalism.

Ballou was editor of Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, a 19th century illustrated periodical, bought out the paper from the owner, and continued the publication under the title, Ballou’s Pictorial. Ballou began another paper, Ballou’s Dollar Monthly Magazine, a general interest magazine. Later, in 1872, Ballou assisted in the founding (and was its editor-in-chief) of the Boston Daily Globe, which was originally called, “Maturin Ballou’s Globe.” (Winzeler, 2014)

Image from: https://www.bostonathenaeum.org/library/book-recommendations/athenaeum-authors/maturin-murray-ballou

The Sportsman’s Portfolio of American Field Sports was first published in Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion sometime during 1853-1854, a year or two before Ballou decided to re-print it as its own standalone publication. (Doyle Auctions, 2018)

Image from The Sportsman’s Portfolio of American Field Sports, Boston: M.M. Ballou, 1855.

Moose hunting, grouse and woodcock shooting, and bass fishing are depicted in the publication.  I was drawn to this book because each beautiful wood engraving is accompanied by a brief, yet thorough, description of the sport, perfect for a sporting novice like myself!

If you would like to see, and other Early American Sporting texts, contact the Library to make an appointment!

Image from The Sportsman’s Portfolio of American Field Sports, Boston: M.M. Ballou, 1855.

Sources Cited:

Winzeler, A. (2014). Maturin Murray Ballou. [Blog] Boston Athenaeum. Available at: https://www.bostonathenaeum.org/library/book-recommendations/athenaeum-authors/maturin-murray-ballou [Accessed 12 Jan. 2020].

Doyle Auctions. (2018). Hunting Books from the Collection of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. [online] Available at: https://doyle.com/auctions/18jj02-hunting-books-collection-arnold-jake-johnson/catalogue/8-american-field-sport [Accessed 12 Jan. 2020].

Books serve to preserve and transmit information both geographically and temporally but almost from the very beginning they have often also been objects d’art.  From the earliest illuminated manuscripts to today’s deluxe editions, scribes, printers, and bookbinders have enhanced the value of manuscripts and books by adding elaborate decoration to the information contained within them.

Manuscripts have decorative illuminations that range from simple enhanced capitals or rubrics, to intricate and colorful capitals, borders, and full illustrations.

A page from the Book of Kells (c. 800 AD) showing illuminated capitals. From Wikimedia Commons.

Decorations have been applied to every surface and aspect of the book. The endpapers have been colored, marbled, bordered with gilt tooling, and featured pictorial decorations. Special paperstock, color plates, and original illustrations often appear in modern limited editions. Some books have elaborate book clasps, slipcases, or clam shell boxes. The edges of the page block have been gilded, colored, marbled, and even enhanced with full paintings known as fore-edge paintings.

Fore-edge painting of a polo scene on Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott (1873). The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

The outside of the book has also been used for decoration.  Vellum, leather and cloth covers have been produced in many different colors. Sometimes covers feature designs made with inlaid elements, gilt tooling, or embossing.  Gilt lettering appears on the boards as well as the spine, as do pictorial decorations. To get a closer look at a wide variety of book bindings I highly recommend visiting the Folger Shakespeare Library’s special digital collection of bindings here.

The Library’s collection contains many examples of decorative bindings. Recently I was working with our rare books on dogs and hounds for another project and noticed a profusion of decorative covers that I’d like to share.  

Some of the designs, although detailed, are small, such as this fox terrier which appears in the bottom corner of the front cover of its book and is only about two inches across.

A History and Description, with Reminiscences, of the Fox Terrier by Rawdon B. Lee (1890). The gift of Harry T. Peters, Jr.

Many of the covers feature portraits such as these noble looking hounds…

Upper left: Dogs of the British Islands by J.H. Walsh (1878). The gift of Dorothy Wagstaff Ripley. Upper right: Scotch Deer-Hounds and their Masters by George Cupples (1894). The gift of Dr. Timothy Greenan. Lower left: Spaniels by H.W. Carlton (1931). The gift of Jacqueline B. Mars. Lower right: The Dog by William Youatt (1858).

Others depict full body images such as this training manual featuring what appears to be some sort of pointer, although one with an oddly shaped head.

Dog Breaking by W.N. Hutchinson (1848)

Some of the covers incorporate the title of the book into the decorative image.

Left: Training and Handling of the Dog by B. Waters (1894). The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels. Right: The Spaniel and its Training by F.H.F. Mercer (1890).

I especially like the unusual cover for Dogs and Their Doings. This book is a collection of anecdotes describing the surprising and often heroic actions of specific dogs.

Dogs and Their Doings by Rev. F.O. Morris (1872). The gift of Mrs. Eva C. Stewart.

Although most of the images were gilt, which is eye-catching and would have been especially so when the volumes were new, there were a few decorated in either color images or black images

Left: British Dogs at Work by A. Croxton Smith (1906). The gift of Joseph B. Thomas IV. Right: Hunting Dogs by Oliver Hartley (1909).

If you’d like to explore books as objects d’art or to read about the history of bookbinding, you’re welcome to come browse the Main Reading Room.  If you’d like to get a look at some of our more elaborate bindings or editions, you’ll need to schedule a visit to the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.  Contact me for an appointment, I’d love to share some of our treasures with you.


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.

Let me put this out there, I love prints and I am not ashamed to admit it. I have several decorating my house, my favorite being Edvard Munch’s lithograph of The Scream. Though I love the warm colors of the oil and pastel paintings, the lithograph provides a rawness unique to the medium. Why can I afford a print of one of the most well-known works of art in the world? Precisely because it’s a print.

Edvard Munch, The Scream, copy of lithograph, 1895, copyright King & McGaw New Road, Newhaven, England, BN90EH

The term prints can be a little misleading as it can be used as a catch-all for a range of works on paper. Within most museums and galleries, it generally encompasses the various techniques of lithography, aquatints, block prints, drypoints, screenprints, and engravings. People love to hate them because they can be mass produced, which makes them more ubiquitous than their one-of-a-kind counterparts: paintings. An original print loosely refers to works made by the artist using one of the above methods. A reproduction would be a copy of an original work of art or, in the case of my version of The Scream, it’s more likely a copy of a copy of a copy, which technically (and confusingly) still qualifies as a print. Have I lost you yet?

“Mass production” doesn’t have to have a negative connotation. For many artists, especially before the advent of modern technology, it was a way to become more familiar to potential clients. Albrecht Durer (German, 1471-1528), arguably the greatest of Northern Renaissance artists, understood the importance of mass production. Engravings and lithographs made his works available to everyone whilst simultaneously spreading his name and thereby, his recognition.

Prints also show us what subjects and themes were considered popular enough to be reproduced. As they were so prevalent, it should not be a surprise to reveal that prints are the best represented medium within the NSLM collection. Several are currently on display in Gallery 7, including Herring’s Agricultural Scenes by John Frederick Herring Sr. (English, 1795-1865). These are three lithographs entitled Hay-making, Hop-making, and Ploughing.


The prints were initially published in 1856 (Hay-making) and 1857 (Hop-picking and Ploughing). Putting the works themselves into context, they capture a moment in time when there was a longing for “simpler” times, one where life was unencumbered by the noise and grime of the city in the throes of the Industrial Revolution. One where there was a desire for nature and the clean air of the countryside. But these prints are remembering a way of life that never was, instead it shows a romanticized version of arduous and demanding jobs. One would imagine that those undertaking these grueling tasks would be grimacing and covered in sweat and dirt. Instead, everyone, even those working, are spotless and neat. Figures are sitting on the ground, a child is petting a dog, women are talking amongst themselves. It is actually a very leisurely scene considering the subject matter.


Interestingly, the women bear a resemblance to images of a young Queen Victoria, who would have been in her late thirties when the prints were produced. It could simply be a coincidence that the leading publisher of the day, Henry Graves & Co., was the official publisher to the royal couple. As stated below each image, “…Henry Graves & Co., printsellers & publishers to Her Majesty the Queen & His Royal Highness, Prince Albert.” I would be curious to see how much input the publisher provided or maybe Herring was just being clever. The royal family was considered the epitome of the wholesome family and served as an example to others. This scene, then, could also represent the tenet of the family unit working together harmoniously.

“J.F. Herring” is listed as pinxit meaning “he painted” and “Vincent Brooks” is credited as lith, the company that printed the lithograph. (For more Latin terms and another print collection at the NSLM, see the blog entry Princely Prints by former Curator of Collections, Nicole Stribling.) Herring produced numerous works for the publisher Henry Graves & Co., and these could be purchased through mail-order catalogs. Hop-picking and Ploughing were available in Bent’s Monthly Literary Advertiser shown below.

Bent’s Monthly Literary Advertiser, August 10, 1858, Volume 18, pg. 144
Bent’s Monthly Literary Advertiser, August 18, 1858, Volume 18, pg. 54

Prints are very fragile and can be susceptible to a wide range of issues, from accretions and buckling to warping and wrinkling. They also require their own unique care – for instance, light levels need to be lower, and they need to rotate into storage more often. You can see in the below image the waves at the top of the paper, this is referred to as “buckling.”

Herring’s Agricultural Scene: Hay-making, 1856

Having been on display for several months, the Agricultural Scenes will be returned to storage shortly for a much-needed break. I hope you had the chance to see them for yourself.

While my print of The Scream is not an original print by any stretch, it was produced in the same spirit as Herring’s Agricultural Scenes: that of personal enjoyment within my little home and to symbolize my mood when someone comes to visit.

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

One resource I have come to rely on heavily since starting at the National Sporting Library & Museum has been the newsletters published by the Library since 1975. It is a real delight to read articles written by the founders themselves, to include Alexander Mackay-Smith. I will be featuring these newsletters in the blog. While many members may have read these when they were first published, I hope that many will be excited reading them for the first time. What follows is the first article published in the first issue of the National Sporting Library & Museum’s newsletter.

National Sporting Library Newsletter, September 1975, Vol. 1, No. 1

No one can really understand a nation without a knowledge of the way it spends its leisure time. By far the greater part of our leisure is devoted to sport, either as participants or as spectators. Our greatest spectator sport is horse racing which leads all other sports in paid admissions by a wide margin. Racing supports its own periodicals including daily newspapers, while the leisure time magazines with much the largest circulation are those devoted to shooting and fishing which, with foxhunting (and beagling), constitute the trio known as Field Sports.

Turf and Field Sports are the province of the National Sporting Library, reputedly the only public library in the country devoted solely to sport. Located in Middleburg, Virginia, forty miles west of Washington, it is housed in the 1804 brick house known as “Vine Hill” which it shares with the weekly periodical, “The Chronicle of the Horse.” Although the comfortable main reading room is open to anyone who wants to look up a pedigree or racing record, the National Sporting Library is, according to its masthead, “A Research Center for Turf and Field Sports, their History and Social Significance.” No books are allowed to leave the building, the lower floor being reserved for the Librarian’s office, for book stacks and for the underground humidity controlled, fireproof vault with shelves for approximately 6,000 volumes.

Since its founding in 1954, the National Sporting Library has received many gifts of entire collections and of individual volumes, some rare, some working copies, and hopes to receive many more in the future. It has, either in original issues or in microfilm, most of the North American periodicals devoted to Turf and Field Sports published during the past two centuries, and hopes to complete this collection within the next few years. It is now in the process of indexing these periodicals in accordance with standards adopted by the American Society of Indexers. Already completed are indexes of The New York Sporting Magazine (Mar. 1833 – Dec. 1834) and its successor, The United States Sporting Magazine (Nov. 1835 – Aug. 1836), and the first five years of available issues of The Spirit of the Times (1831 – 1835). Nearing completion is the index of the American Turf Register, 1829 – 1844.

The considerable number of scholars who have already worked in the Library are enthusiastic about the availability of material, the facilities offered, and the opportunities for original contributions to knowledge based on the very wide range of subjects covered by these periodicals — not only the full spectrum of field sports, but also other sports, art, literature, music and allied fields. We look forward to assisting many others in the future and hope that financial assistance, where required, may be made available to scholars undertaking particularly noteworthy projects through Fellowships and through publication.

The National Sporting Library collections, and particularly its microfilming and indexing project of periodicals devoted to Turf and Field Sports, a field hitherto relatively inaccessible to scholars, are becoming increasingly useful, not only for the pursuit of special projects, but also for putting into proper perspective the immense influence played by sport in the evolution of this country.

By Alexander Mackay-Smith, Curator

Posted by Michelle Guzman, George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Head Librarian

Many sportsmen have been inspired by country life to put brush to canvas.  So too have many whose talents have a more literary cast.  The canon of fiction, prose, verse, and song generated by the lovers of country sports and the lifestyle in which they are set fill many shelves at the NSLM.  The poems and songs of William H. Ogilvie are among them.

Will Ogilvie in 1901.  Kerry & Co. of Sydney, from the collection of The State Library of Queensland
Wikimedia Commons.

William, or more commonly Will, Ogilvie was born into a large family based in the Scottish border town of Kelso during the summer of 1869.  He was educated at Kelso High School before attending  Fettes College in Edinburgh where he was a good athlete, participating in rugby and running, and an excellent student, winning a prize for Latin verse.

At the age of twenty, Will emigrated to Australia.  He arrived with a letter of introduction to Robert Scott’s family which eventually landed him the first of a series of jobs at sheep stations.  Friends of the Scotts needed help on their ranch called Belalie located in New South Wales.  Here Will mastered the skills of drover, station hand, horseman, and horse breaker.  Here he also began to record his experiences in poems.  His love of the Australian bush country, horses, dogs, and fair ladies, forms the subject of his ballads.  He published most of his work in newspapers and periodicals and gradually became recognized as one of the great bush poets of Australia.

Will Ogilvie around 1937.  From
Wikimedia Commons.

After twelve years in Australia, Will returned to Scotland.  He would continue to create poems featuring horses, riding, and country life, throughout his long life.  Many of his works would be printed in magazines such as Punch and The Spectator in England, as well as The Bulletin in Australia.  In addition, there were numerous collections of his work published.  Below I’ve shared three of his poems.  I especially enjoy the nostalgic mood of “The Huntsman’s Horse.”

Illustration by Lionel Edwards from his Seen from the Saddle (1937).  The gift of A. Mackay-Smith.

The Huntsman’s Horse
by Will Ogilvie

The galloping seasons have slackened his pace,
And stone wall and timber have battered his knees
It is many a year since he gave up his place
To live out his life in comparative ease.

No more does he stand with his scarlet and white
Like a statue of marble girth deep in the gorse;
No more does he carry the Horn of Delight
That called us to follow the huntsman’s old horse.

How many will pass him and not understand,
As he trots down the road going cramped in his stride,
That he once set the pace to the best in the land
Ere they tightened his curb for a lady to ride!

When the music begins and a right one’s away,
When hoof-strokes are thudding like drums on the ground,
The old spirit wakes in the worn-looking grey
And the pride of his youth comes to life at a bound.

He leans on the bit and he lays to his speed,
To the winds of the open his stiffness he throws,
And if spirit were all he’d be up with the lead
Where the horse that supplants him so easily goes.

No double can daunt him, no ditch can deceive,
No bank can beguile him to set a foot wrong,
But the years that have passed him no power can retrieve —
To the swift is their swiftness, their strength to the strong!

To the best of us all comes a day and a day
When the pace of the leaders shall leave us forlorn,
So we’ll give him a cheer – the old galloping grey –
As he labours along to the lure of the Horn.

From Scattered Scarlet (1923).  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

Illustration by Lionel Edwards from his My Irish Sketch Book (1938).  The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

The White Hound
by Will Ogilvie

The white hound runs at the head of the pack,
And mute as a mouse is he,
And never a note he flings us back
While the others voice their glee.
With nose to the ground he holds his line
Be it over the plough or grass;
He sets a pace for the twenty-nine
And won’t let one of them pass.

The white hound comes from a home in Wales,
Where they like them pale in hue
And can pick them up when the daylight fails
And the first gold stars look through.
They can see them running on dark hill-sides
If they speak to the scent or no,
And the snow-white hounds are welcome guides
Where the wild Welsh foxes go.

The white hound runs with our dappled pack
Far out behind him strung;
He shows the way to the tan-and-black
But he never throws his tongue.
At times he leads by a hundred yards,
But he’s always sure and sound;
All packs, of course, have their picture cards,
And ours is the old white hound.

The Master says he is far too fast
For our stout, determined strain,
And the huntsman curses him – ‘D—n and blast
He’s away by himself again!’
But the Field is glad when it sees him there,
For we know when a fox is found
The pace will be hot and the riding rare
In the track of the old white hound.

From The Collected Sporting Verse of Will H. Ogilvie (1932). The gift of Edmund S. Twining III.

Illustration by Lionel Edwards from A Handful of Leather (1928). The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

A Wish
by Will Ogilvie

O, Fame is a fading story
And gold a glitter of lies,
But speed is an endless glory
And health is a lasting prize;
And the swing of a blood horse striding
On turf elastic and sound
Is joy secure and abiding
And kingship sceptered and crowned.

So give me the brave wind blowing,
The open fields and free,
The tide of the scarlet flowing,
And a good horse under me;
And give me that best of bounties:
A gleam of November sun,
The far-spread English counties,
And a stout red fox to run.

From A Handful of Leather (1928). The gift of John H. and Martha Daniels.

The Library holds many of Ogilvie’s books as well as those of numerous other sporting poets in our Main Reading Room.  Please consider dropping by and spending an afternoon exploring them!


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.