Catalogue entry

T02362 MANUELLA AT RICHARD WATT'S STUD FARM, BISHOP BURTON, YORKSHIRE 1825

Inscribed ‘MANUELLA’ bottom centre and ‘J. F. Herring/1825’ bottom right in red
Oil on canvas, 40 × 50 (101.5 × 127)
Presented by Mr Paul Mellon KBE through the British Sporting Art Trust 1979
Prov: Painted for Richard Watt, Bishop Burton, near Beverley, Yorkshire, thence by family descent until 1976; Arthur Ackermann & Son Ltd., from whom purchased by Paul Mellon 1976.
Lit: Egerton, 1978, pp.294–5 no.316A.

Manuella, by Dick Andrews out of Mandane, was a bay filly foaled in 1809. She had never raced in public until her then owner, W.N.W. Hewitt, entered her for both the Derby and the Oaks in 1812. Her training performance was however sufficiently spectacular to make her second favourite for the Derby; but her chances were deliberately spoilt by her jockey Sam Chifney junior. He pulled Manuella up in the Derby (which she lost) in order to lengthen the odds and thus enhance the value of his own substantial bet on her for the Oaks the following day (which she won).

Manuella was sold to Lord Sackville in 1812, and soon after that became one of the brood mares at the stud farm of Richard Watt, a noted owner and breeder of racehorses. One of her successful sons was Memnon, winner of the St. Leger in 1825. Herring's portrait of ‘Memnon with William Scott up’, showing the winner in Doncaster racecourse, with Scott up in Richard Watt's distinctive harlequin colours, was engraved and published in 1826 (versions of this painting include [1] 26 1/2 × 33 1/4in., coll. Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon; Egerton, 1978, cat.no.316, colour pl.38; [2] 30 × 40 in., with Ackermann, 1978; repr. Stella A. Walker, Sporting Art: England 1700–1900, 1972, pl.54). Richard Watt must have commissioned the portrait of Manuella in the same year as her son Memnon's St. Leger victory: a graceful tribute to a mare who, though evidently no longer in prime racing shape, is still of remarkably elegant conformation.

The pastoral background, remote from the racecourse, is unusually finely handled for Herring, and is convincingly rural in an unstudied manner not found in his later rather overcrowded agricultural scenes. Certain elements in T02362, particularly the treatment of the heavily gnarled tree and the receding view, suggest that in this instance Herring deliberately attempted to emulate James Ward.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981