Paintings of racehorses

We care for 11,000 paintings and look after another 2,500 on loan in an extensive collection shown across the 350 historic houses in our care. Paintings include examples from the Renaissance to modern art and from many celebrated artists including Blake, Rembrandt, van Dyke, Stubbs, Titian and Turner.

While many paintings show landscapes or portraits, horses also feature quite often – either in battle scenes, or in depictions of recreation or racing.
We’ve selected some successful racehorses captured on canvas from the past 400 years which can be seen at places we look after.

'Horse Race at Newmarket' by John Wootton (1682-1765)

Wootton painted the race at Newmarket when the Duke of Bolton's horse, Bay Bolton, beat the Duke of Somerset's grey, Windham. Wootton was working for Edward Harley, second Earl of Oxford, at Newmarket at the time. The painting is at Petworth House, West Sussex, as it was owned by the third Earl of Egremont. Petworth came into our care in 1947 and the painting was later given in lieu of death duties.
Petworth House

''Colonist II', Sir Winston's Grey Colt' by Raoul Millais (1901-1999)

The stallion Colonist II (sired by Rienzo) was born in France in 1946. He won 13 races for Sir Winston Churchill, who bought him in 1949 and netted £11,938 in prize money. Churchill chose to display the painting of his favourite horse (he owned over 50) in prime position above the fireplaces in the Drawing Room at Chartwell, Kent. He sold Colonist II in 1951 for £7,350.

''Elis', beating Colonel Peel's 'Slane': 300 guineas, Newmarket, 1837' by Henry Thomas Alken (1785-1851)

Elis, foaled in 1833, never belonged to Lord Lichfield of Shugborough, Staffordshire, but was trained at Lichfield's stables at Goodwood. Alken’s 1837 painting shows Elis beating Colonel Peel’s Slane at Newmarket. The painting came to us with Shugborough’s park and the contents of the state rooms, in part-payment of death duties following the death of Thomas Anson, 4th Earl of Lichfield.

'Gimcrack' by John Best (1750-1801)

Gimcrack was one of the best known 18th-century racehorses. Sired by Cripple – The Godolphin Arabian’s son – his greatest victory was in 1765 against Sir James Lowther’s horse, Ascham, at Newmarket. Gimcrack’s owner, the second Viscount Bolingbroke, commissioned Best to paint Gimcrack. The painting was gifted to us in 1949 by Anthony de Rothschild and hangs at Ascott, Buckinghamshire.

''Goldfinder' a Bay Hunter with a Groom and other Horses' by John Nost Sartorius (1759-1828)

John Nost Sartorious came from a family of painters, several of whom specialised in horses. Three works by him are at Calke Abbey including a depiction of Goldfinder painted in 1777. Goldfinder belonged to Sir Charles Sedley of Nuthall Temple near Nottingham and the paintings may have come to Calke Abbey, Derbyshire, after his death in 1778. Goldfinder ran all his races at Newmarket and was never beaten.
Calke Abbey

'Hambletonian, Rubbing Down' by George Stubbs (1724-1806)

The famous horse painter George Stubbs painted one of the great racehorses, Hambletonian (1792-1818), owned by Sir Henry Vane-Tempest, in 1800 after it beat Diamond, owned by Mr Joseph Cookson, by little more than half a neck at Newmarket on 25 March 1799. The 12ft-wide picture of Hambletonian has hung at various locations over the last 200 years, but its home is now Mount Stewart, County Down.The painting was back on display in April 2015 when Mount Stewart reopened after a three-year, £7.5 million restoration project. Read more about George Stubbs in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Mount Stewart

'The Great Horse' by John Wootton (1682-1765)

Probably painted between 1680 and 1710, ‘The Great Horse’ commemorates a bet between the soldier, ambassador and politician Sir Henry Coventry of Croome and Sir John Pakington, his brother-in-law, on a horse race in which Jack-a-Dandy ran against Pakington’s horse. Sir John lost the bet which resulted in him founding The Coventry Charity Almshouses in Droitwich in honour of the winner.The painting will be back on display at Croome Court from autumn 2015, re-hung in its historical position at the top of the main staircase. It is on long-term loan from The Coventry Charity. Image reproduced by kind permission of the Trustees.

'The Duke of Richmond's 'Rough Robin' with the Jockey Frank Buckle up' by Benjamin Marshall (1768-1835)

The fifth Duke of Richmond's horse, Rough Robin, was painted by Marshall in 1830 and is shown being ridden by the jockey Frank Buckle. The presence of the picture at Plas Newydd, Anglesey, may be due to the marriage in 1817 of Lady Caroline Paget, eldest daughter of the first Marquis of Anglesey, to the Duke of Richmond.
Plas Newydd

'The Godolphin Barb or The Godolphin Arabian with Grimalkin the Stable Cat' by David Morier (1705-1770)

The Godolphin Barb or The Godolphin Arabian (1724-1753), was an Arabian horse who was one of three stallions that founded the modern thoroughbred racehorse bloodstock. He was given his name for his best-known owner, Francis Godolphin, second Earl of Godolphin. One of a set of three prints of racehorses, it hangs at Godolphin, Cornwall, former seat of the Earls of Godolphin.