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

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

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

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

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

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

Curator of Art's window

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


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

Welcome to our redesigned blog format! As we head into 2016,  the blog looks a bit newer, but we’ll continue to write about all the wonderful objects in our collections. Today, we highlight one of the many items in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room that cross the boundary between art and books. Today’s highlight is an unbound, undated collection of 13 drawings in pencil and watercolor by sporting artist Robert Ball (1890-1975).

Mallards. The collection is original drawings and watercolors, most depicting animals in nature.
Mallards. The collection is original drawings and watercolors, most depicting animals in nature.
Ball's style is subtle and soft, and the images in the collection are extremely charming.
Ball’s style is subtle and soft, and the images in the collection are extremely charming.

Ball’s illustrations can be found in several sporting books published by the Derrydale Press. He also drew the iconic masthead and cover illustration that adorned the Chronicle of the Horse for decades.

Doe and Fawns.
Doe and Fawns.
Messenger, 1788. Messenger was an important foundational sire of racing blood stock in the United States. Imported shortly after the American Revolution, Messenger was a British thoroughbred descended from the Godolphin Arabian.
Messenger, 1788. Messenger was an important foundational sire of racing blood stock in the United States. Imported shortly after the American Revolution, Messenger was a British thoroughbred descended from the Godolphin Arabian.

These drawings, collected by John Daniels, are tipped into a folder and protected in a clamshell box. Daniels was a meticulous record-keeper, a habit that often provides moments of insight into how his books were collected. A note in the box identifies this collection as a birthday gift from his wife, Martha, in 1993.

Foxhound.
Foxhound.