James Seymour

Chestnut Horse with a Groom near Newmarket


Not on display

James Seymour ?1702–1752
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 660 × 1045 mm
Bequeathed by Miss Agnes Clarke 1978

Display caption

This is a typical eighteenth-century portrait of a horse, accompanied by a groom. The horse is shown in profile, to show off its physique effectively. The landscape setting is relatively insignificant, although identifable as that of Newmarket (famous for its racecourse).

Seymour was one of the better-known animal painters of his time, although he was looked down on by the London art world

Gallery label, February 2010

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Catalogue entry

T02265 Chestnut Horse with a Groom near Newmarket c.1730–40

Oil on canvas 661×1040 (26×41 1/8)
Bequeathed by Miss Agnes Clarke 1978
PROVENANCE ...; according to Miss Clarke's solicitors, probably bt in the 1950s in England by Miss Clarke and/or her brother, John Semple Clarke (formerly citizens of USA), who settled after World War II at Killagorden House, Idless, Truro, Cornwall
EXHIBITED British Sporting Paintings, Fermoy Art Gallery, King's Lynn 1979 (4)

A pack of hounds disappearing to the right in the middle distance suggests that the main subject is probably a hunter, held by a groom waiting for his master, rather than a racehorse; the hounds' quarry is likely to be the hare, since coursing near Newmarket was very popular. The horse is a chestnut stallion, with a white star on the forehead and a white marking on the muzzle; the saddlecloth is white edged with blue. The groom's livery jacket is dark green, brass-buttoned, and his topboots are spurred. Without further clues, the horse and his master are impossible to identify.

The picture appears to have been painted from Warren Hill, to the east of Newmarket town. In the centre of the distant view of Newmarket rises the spire of St Mary's Church. A large two-storied building with projecting wings, deliberately and perhaps disproportionately featured in the distance on the right, may be the stable-block of the horse's owner, but no longer stands and cannot now be identified (information kindly supplied by Canon Peter May, Newmarket, to whom at the suggestion of the Suffolk Record Office the problem of identifying the view was referred).

Published in:
Elizabeth Einberg and Judy Egerton, The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675-1709, Tate Gallery Collections, II, London 1988

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