T01887 JOHN BARHAM DAY WITH HIS SONS JOHN AND WILLIAM ON NEWMARKET HEATH 1841
Inscribed ‘Harry Hall/Newmarket 1841’ b.l.
Oil on canvas, 24 7/8×30 1/8 (63×76.5)
Bequeathed by Alan Evans to the National Gallery and transferred to the Tate Gallery 1974
Coll: ..., sold Christie's 21 May 1948 (107 as ‘A Starter, conversing with two trainers’), bt. Ackermann; Alan Evans, 1958
Three generations of the Day Family were trainers and jockeys during the nineteenth century. T. 1887 shows the best-known member of the family, John Barham Day (1794–1860) at the age of 47, mounted on a chestnut pony, seen in profile facing his sons William, mounted on a bay, and John standing beside his brother.
John Barham Day, born in 1794 at Houghton Down, Stockbridge, Hampshire, son of John Day, racing adviser to the Prince Regent, began his racing career as apprentice at Newmarket to Smallman, the Prince Regent's trainer. As a jockey, he won the Oaks four times and the St. Leger twice, his last Classic win being at the age of 46 on Lord George Bentinck's Crucifix in the Oaks in 1840. He established the Day racing stables at Danebury near Stockbridge on the Hampshire Downs, where his patrons included the Duke of Portland, the Duke of Grafton, Lord Palmerston and, until a notorious rift in 1841, Lord George Bentinck (Disraeli's ‘Lord Paramount of the Turf’). In that year (also the year in which T01887 was painted) Bentinck, convinced that the Days were defrauding him by betraying stable screts to the bookmakers, removed his entire string of racehorses from Danebury to Goodwood. John Day was given to punctilious religious observance (he used to read Blair's sermons to the stable lads on Sundays); but his nickname ‘Honest’ John Day was ironic. The Day stables became the centre of heavy and fraudulent betting. The Day family's successes continued, though under warnings from the Jockey Club and in the teeth of considerable unpopularity; John Bartham Day trained the Derby winners of 1846, 1847 and 1854. He died at Woodyates, Dorset, on 21 March 1860. The kindest judgement of him was given by ‘The Druid’ (H. H. Dixon, Scott and Sebright, 1862; 1895 ed. p.40): ‘Perhaps he was greatest as a jockey in his earliest days, when he had not so much training and betting on his mind’.
John Barham Day married a Miss Goddard and had four sons who were jockeys and trainers. Seen with him in T.1887 are John (1814–1882), crack jockey of his day, who succeeded to the management of the Danebury Stables; and William (1823–1908), jockey, later trainer at Woodyates and author of The Racehorse in Training (1880), Reminiscences of the Turf (1886) and The Horse: How to Breed and Rear him (1888).
An oil sketch repeating the mounted figure of John Day as in T.1887 (millboard, 9×11 1/2 ins.) is with Arthur Ackermann & Sons Ltd. Signed and dated 1843, and thus two years later than the completed picture, this sketch was perhaps made at the request of another member of the Day family.
A similar composition by Hall, painted the year before T01887, shows John Day junior appraising the form of Crucifix (John Barham Day up) for the Oaks 1840 (collection Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon); and a portrait attributed to Hall of John Day junior in racing silks is in the collection of the Jockey Club, Newmarket. Abraham Cooper's ‘The Day Family’ is in the collection of the South African National Gallery, Cape Town. Individual members of the Day family were painted by Ben Marshall, Abraham Cooper, John Ferneley and J. H. Herring (examples in the collections of Brodick Castle, National Trust for Scotland; Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon; Richard Green). Vignette portraits of John Barham Day and his sons John and Alfred are included in the decorative group of 31 jockeys lithographed c. 1860 (Roger Longrigg, The History of Horse Racing, 1972, repr. in colour pp.134–5). Notices of John Barham Day, his sons John and Alfred and his brother Samuel are given in Frederic Boase, Modern English Biography. and a notice of William Day in D.N.B. 2nd Supplement.
The Tate Gallery 1974-6: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1978