‘Sultan’, Winner of the Newmarket Whip in 1823
About the work
This rich, red bay colt with three white socks was named ‘Sultan’. Bred from ‘Bacchante’ in 1816, ‘Sultan’ was initially owned by the gambling club proprietor William Crockford (c.1776-1844). Crockford began his career as a bookmaker at Newmarket Heath but in 1828 established the high-stakes London gaming club known as Crockford’s, in St James’s Street. In 1821 Sultan was sold to Thomas Foley, 3rd Baron. Immediately after the Newmarket Whip of 1823, Foley sold the horse to Brownlow Cecil, second Marquess of Exeter (recorded as the owner in the lettering of this print). As ‘Sultan’ was the only challenger for the Newmarket Whip that year, the horse in fact won by default. This may explain why the winner is here depicted at rest in a field, rather than racing.
About the artist
John Ferneley senior was born in Thrussington, Leicestershire; the son of a wheelwright and wagon builder. He worked for his father until, aged 20, his naïve paintings were noticed by the Duke of Rutland. He then began an apprenticeship with sporting artist Ben Marshall in London and received commissions from officers of the Leicestershire yeomanry under the Duke’s command. Fox-hunter Thomas Assheton Smith and Irish noblemen Lord Lismore and George O’Callaghan became important patrons. Ferneley settled in Melton Mowbray in 1813, later building Elgin Lodge. He is best-known for hunting portraits and panoramic views of hunters galloping. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, British Institution and Society of British Artists. He died aged 78.