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This unfinished oil sketch is a preparatory study for a painting of two horses, Surprise and Eleanor, in a private collection. The three figures here form a group on the right in the finished picture. They are apparently assessing Eleanor's chances of success before the start of a race. The filly's owner, Sir Charles Bunbury, at the centre of the group, was a prominent figure in the racing world of the time.
Marshall's output consisted predominantly of horse-racing scenes. He was somewhat unusual as a sporting artist in the considerable attention he paid to the likenesses and characters of human figures. This is perhpas as a result of his early training under the portrait painter Lemuel Francis Abbot (c.1760-1802).

September 2004