‘Blue Bonnet’, Winner of the Great St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster, 1842
Coloured aquatintpublished 21 October 1842
About the work
Ridden by Thomas Lye, the horse ‘Blue Bonnet’ is depicted at full gallop in celebration of her winning the St Leger Stakes at Doncaster in 1842. The owner of the horse, politician and racing patron Archibald William Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglinton (1812-1861) won £30,000 against his bet of £650. The ‘Kentish Gazette’ later summarised the race: ‘… the running was taken up by Fireaway. Blue Bonnet, who had been in the ruck… showed in front immediately after with Priscilla Tomboy, and at the two mile post they were close up with him, Blue Bonnet lying on his left, close to the rails, and Priscilla Tomboy on his right… About two hundred yards from home, Blue Bonnet wrested the lead from Fireaway, was never caught, and won very easily by a length… The race was run in three minutes eighteen seconds.’
This image was published as an illustration to ‘The Sporting Magazine’ in 1842. A reviewer, writing for ‘The Era’ newspaper, was unimpressed by the image: ‘The engraving of Blue Bonnet may be faithful to its original; if so, the painter (Hancock) has not been true to nature; the length of the St Leger winner is most sadly curtailed, though the neck, coarse head, and upright ears, are accurately transmitted.’
About the artist
John Harris III was an aquatint engraver of sporting and military subjects after works by contemporary artists. He was born in London and may have been the son of the watercolourist, illustrator and lithographer known as John Harris II. However, it has also been suggested that he was the son of a cabinet maker. Harris remained in London for the duration of his life and worked mainly for the publisher Ackermann and Fores.
Animal painter and inventor Charles Hancock exhibited mainly sporting subjects at the Royal Academy, British Institution, Society of British Artists in Suffolk Street and New Water-Colour Society between 1819 and 1868. His address changed many times during his career; he lived in Wiltshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and at several London addresses. In 1842, he was supported by written declarations from William Day and Thomas Fairland during a dispute with lithographer Charles Joseph Hullmandel over Hullmandel's patent for the lithotint (a technique imitating wash drawing). In 1844, ‘The London Gazette’ reported that Hancock had been granted a patent for his invention of ‘improvements in Cork and other Stoppers’. He died in London in 1877.