‘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
Edward Duncan, a marine and landscape painter in watercolour and engraver, was the son of an artist and engraver, also named Edward. He began his career in the studio of Robert Havell senior and later set up business on his own, engraving sporting and shipping subjects, particularly by the William John Huggins. He later married Huggins’s daughter, Berthia. He became a member of the Royal Institution in 1833, serving as Vice-President and Treasurer, but resigned in 1847. Two years later he became a member of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours. Between 1843 and 1851, he worked as an illustrator for the ‘Illustrated London News’. Duncan lived in north London throughout his life. He died at his home near Haverstock Hill, aged 78.
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.