Renowned equine artist Fred Stone has died in the US at the age of 87 after suffering from health complications relating to cancer.
Stone, who died on the evening of February 5 surrounded by family, began painting racehorses in the 1970s. Born in St Louis, his family moved to Los Angeles when he was three. He studied art at the Otis Art Institute as a child, and attended The Art Center School and Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. Stone worked as a commercial artist and painted backgrounds for the film industry, before moving on to painting racehorses.
The Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune have called Stone the most famous painter of horses in the world. His work is in the home of Queen Elizabeth II and in the office of the president in the White House. Stone’s large murals are all over the world, including the world’s largest horse mural at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas.
His great success has enabled him to support many worthy charities in the racing community and beyond. These have included families of New York firefighters impacted by 9-11, handicapped children on horse back foundations, disabled jockeys, and finding homes for retired race horses, among others.
More people own a Fred Stone print than that of any other horse artist in history, making him the most sought-after equine artist in the world.
He painted many of the world’s most famous thoroughbreds, including Cigar, American Pharoah, John Henry, Secretariat, Phar Lap, and Man o’ War.
“All of my pictures have a story,” he said, “and I could get into a story on every one of them.”
Throughout his career, Stone donated proceeds from the sale of various prints to many equine-related charities, including Old Friends, After the Finish Line, Race Track Chaplaincy of America, and the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation.
Prints of a portrait of a rescue dog being held by a firefighter, produced after the 9/11 attacks on New York, raised $500,000 for the families of firefighters who died that day.
“I have been fortunate,” Stone said in an article in BloodHorse in 1990. “I made my career from horse racing and I want to share that with others.”
As well as the racing industry, Stone also dabbled in other equestrian sports. In 2012, he painted a portrait of Olympic showjumping champion Hickstead following the horse’s sudden death. Proceeds of the sale of the poster supported the Canadian Equestrian Team. Several rodeo images, as well as pets, also featured in his vast portfolio, which included decorative plates and collectibles.
His family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations are made to the thoroughbred retirement facility Old Friends.
Fred Stone (April 13, 1930 – February 5, 2018)