James Pollard

Coursers Taking the Field at Hatfield Park, Hertfordshire, the Seat of the Marquess of Salisbury

exhibited 1824

Not on display

James Pollard 1792–1867
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1042 × 1472 mm
frame: 1220 × 1646 × 85 mm
Bequeathed by Mrs F. Ambrose Clark through the British Sporting Art Trust 1982

Display caption

Pollard was particularly adept at painting expansive views teeming with lively figures and animals. In the forefront of this scene, wearing the sky-blue livery of the Hatfield Hunt, is the Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury. She was a most enthusiastic sportswoman even in her later years: she is shown here at the age of seventy-three, peering through an eyeglass mounted on the top of her whip.
Pollard had a prolific output of racing, hunting and coaching scenes. He was a skilled engraver and a large proportion of his work was intended for publication in print form, a fact reflected in the meticulous detail and decorative quality of his compositions.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry


Oil on canvas 41 × 56 15/16 (1042 × 1472)
Inscribed ‘J Pollard’ (initials in monogram) b.l.
Bequeathed by Mrs F. Ambrose Clark from the collection of the late F. Ambrose Clark through the British Sporting Art Trust 1982
Prov:...; anon. sale, Christie's 27 April 1917 (131) bt Ellis & Smith; F. Ambrose Clark by 1941; his widow Mrs F. Ambrose Clark
Exh: BI, 1824 (360); Outdoor England, Century Club, New York, February–April 1941 (19); Tate Gallery, August–September 1982, and York City Art Gallery, March–September 1984, with other paintings from Mrs F. Ambrose Clark's Bequest (no catalogue)
Engr: Aquatint by the artist, coloured by hand, pub. R. Pollard & Sons 6 November 1824 (Selway 1972, p.58, no.833, as pair to no.832)
Lit: Ed. William Page, Victoria County History, Hertfordshire, I, 1902; [E.J. Rousuck], The F. Ambrose Clark Collection of Sporting Paintings, privately printed, New York 1958, p.210, repr. p.211; N.C. Selway, The Golden Age of Coaching and Sport, 1972, p.43, no.385

This scene provided Pollard with one of the subjects for a pair of engravings published in February 1824, the other being entitled ‘Coursing in Hatfield Park’.

In the forefront of the field is the Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury, wearing the livery of the Hatfield Hunt, sky blue with black collar and cuffs and silver buttons. She had been born in 1750, as Lady Emily Mary Hill, daughter of the Irish Earl of Downshire; in 1773 she married James Cecil, 21st Earl and later 1st Marquess of Salisbury, who died in 1823. The Marchioness was ‘an enthusiastic sportswoman who delighted in archery, in riding, above all in hunting. She took over the Mastership of the local hunt when her husband got bored with it and directed the chase with zest’. Contemporary gossip is full of anecdotes about ‘Dow. Sal’ or ‘Old Sarum’ (Lord David Cecil, The Cecils of Hatfield House, 1973, p.191). Her enthusiasm for sport continued into old age. Pollard's painting, probably painted in 1823, the year before it was exhibited, depicts her at the age of 73, an eyeglass affixed to the top of her whip her only concession to old age. She died in a fire which destroyed the west wing of Hatfield House on 27 November 1835, aged 85.

The Marchioness of Salisbury, who loved entertaining on a large scale, held a three-day coursing meeting in Hatfield Park every year; the first two days were reserved for matches between her own greyhounds and those of her friends, but on the third day the meetings were open to spectators and the general public. Pollard's painting evidently depicts the third day of such a meeting. His preliminary pencil drawing of the subject, squared for the purpose of engraving, is inscribed at the top ‘Coursing in Hatfield Park | Engraved by J. Pollard’ and, along the bottom, ‘Large Picture Painted by J. Pollard and Exhibited at British | Institution Pall Mall’ (9 × 15in, in an album of drawings by Pollard, British Museum 1933-10-14-133).

A painting by J.F. Sartorius showing the 1st Marquess and the Marchioness of Salisbury coursing in Hatfield Park, dated 1805 and exhibited at the RA in 1806, is in the collection of the present Marquess of Salisbury.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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