Nothing is known of the early provenance of this painting. However, in the mid-20th-century it was owned by publisher and printer Walter Hutchinson. Hutchinson formed a substantial collection of sporting paintings and, in 1949, founded the National Gallery of British Sports and Pastimes. The gallery was located at Derby House (renamed Hutchinson House) in Stratford Place, off Oxford Street. Hutchinson was somewhat presumptuous in calling it a ‘National Gallery’ for it was never presented to the nation and, following his death (a year after the gallery had opened) the collection was dispersed.
The catalogue of the National Gallery of British Sports and Pastimes describes Francis Sartorius's painting of the 'The Trimmed Cock' as follows:
'This life-size portrait of a fighting cock is of particular interest as it shows not only the method by which silver spurs were fitted to replace the natural ones but also the origin of the phrase "To Show the White Feather."'
Sporting painter Francis Sartorius senior was based in London, the son of animal painter John Sartorius (active 18th century). He exhibited at the Society of Artists, the Free Society of Artists and the Royal Academy. Sartorius may have worked for the Pall Mall based print dealer and publisher Thomas Butler. He received commissions for equestrian and canine portraiture from members of the gentry and nobility, including the Duke of Cumberland and Lord Rockingham. He was a prolific artist, but did not charge high prices for his works and lived on a modest income. He died at about the age of 70, leaving a son John Nost Sartorius (1759-1829), also an animal painter.
Purchased from Oscar & Peter Johnson, October 1977
Hutchinson House Collection [collection of publisher and printer Walter Hutchinson (1887-1950)]; sold by the order of Messrs. Hutchinson & Co Limited through Christie's, London, 'The Second Portion of the Hutchinson Collection of Important Sporting Pictures' sale, on 14 December 1951 (Lot 151; with GAC 13514), for £68.5.0; from which sale purchased by explorer and blockade runner Sir (Frederick) George Binney (1900-1972) of Domaine des Vaux, Haut de la Vallée, St Lawrence, Jersey; with O & P Johnson, London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in October 1977
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