Major equine exhibition chronicles magazine’s memorable cover art

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Mongo on the Turf at Laurel Racetrack, Maryland with Charles Burr Up
Mongo on the Turf at Laurel Racetrack, Maryland with Charles Burr Up, a 1964 work by American artist Jean Eleanor Bowman (1917-1994).

An equine art extravaganza opens this week in Virginia with a major sampling of 46 American, British, and European oil paintings, watercolors, and sculptures on show.

The show highlights the variety of material that was placed in front of readers, on the covers of national equestrian magazine The Chronicle of the Horse, for almost 70 years.

The exhibition, The Chronicle of the Horse in Art, is at the National Sporting Library & Museum in Middleburg from August 26 to March 26, 2017.

The introduction of art to the front cover of The Chronicle came on the August 31, 1945 issue with little fanfare. The periodical was first begun eight years earlier as a local Virginia newspaper under the name The Middleburg Chronicle by Gerald B. Webb and Stacy B. Lloyd, Jr.

Detail from Shark With His Trainer Price
Detail from Shark With His Trainer Price, a 1794 oil by George Stubbs (1724-1806). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Paul Mellon Collection. Photo: Katherine Wetzel © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

No explanation for the alteration from the Wall Street Journal-esque all-text format of the cover, overseen by Lloyd, was written in the periodical either before or in the seminal 1945 issue. It was the first of what would become an iconic cover for almost 70 years, reflecting the broad range of expression of classic to contemporary sporting art, the rich history of the magazine itself, developments in equine sports, and the interests of the equestrians who have followed the national weekly publication for over two generations.

The May 7, 1965 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse, featuring the Stubbs portrait of Shark, above.
The May 7, 1965 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse, featuring the Stubbs portrait of Shark, above.

A fascinating story of the development of some of the important sporting art collections in the United States also unfolded between the pages of the magazine.

Iconic 18th and 19th century sporting artists such as George Stubbs, Benjamin Marshall, and John Ferneley, Sr. and artists who attained success in the 20th century, many during their lifetime, such as Jean Bowman, Sir Alfred Munnings, James Lynwood Palmer, and Richard Stone Reeves were featured.

The masterworks of George Stubbs appeared on the cover of The Chronicle more than 60 times. By 1965, readers had been exposed to almost half of these and a variety of articles on the historically-significant 18th-century sporting artist. One of the works in the exhibition includes  Shark With His Trainer Price, 1794, was in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon when it was reproduced. The article about the painting delved into the positive impact the imported British racehorse had on American bloodlines. He was the first winning racehorse to be imported into the US.

The Chronicle of the Horse engaged its readers with appealing images that spoke to the audience of breeders, owners, trainers, athletes, and enthusiasts of the various equestrian sports. A comprehensive and eclectic variety of more than 3400 images of paintings, sculpture, illustrations, caricatures, prints, and other objects reflecting equine pursuits were reproduced on the covers between 1945 and 2012.

Booth Malone painting “Scene from a Spaghetti Western” which was gifted to USPC by Cindy Piper, is on loan by the US Pony Club to the COTH exhibition.
The Booth Malone painting “Scene from a Spaghetti Western” which was gifted to USPC by Cindy Piper, is on loan by the US Pony Club to the COTH exhibition.

Not only works with horses appeared on the cover; portraits of foxhounds and even a donkey described as “employed babysitting four young horses” were included.

By 1960 The Chronicle had already distinguished itself by highlighting “young painters just getting started, obviously with still a long way to go, but with enough apparent talent to justify a leg up.”

Other works included in the Middleburg exhibition are Euxton, with John White Up, at Heaton Park, 1829 by John E. Ferneley, Sr. (British, 1782–1860) from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale Center for British Art; five other major paintings from the Yale collection; Turning To Go Down, 1976 by John Rattenbury Skeaping (British, 1901-1980); and Saint Nick from the collection of Caroline Moran.

The National Sporting Library & Museum was founded in 1954, and the renowned research Library and art Museum highlight the rich heritage and tradition of country pursuits. Angling, horsemanship, shooting, steeplechasing, foxhunting, flat racing, polo, coaching, and wildlife are among the subjects one can explore in the organization’s general stacks, rare book holdings, archives, and art collection.

nationalsporting.org

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