Ad Code: 3
from Auction House Records.
Iroquois, with Fred Archer up, winner of the Epsom Derby, St. Leger and Prince of Wales Stakes, 1881
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|While Henry Stull initially wanted to be an actor, his life and art
ultimately revolved around racehorses, especially at Coney Island, New
York. To make this point, it has been said he was born above a
stable in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in 1851, but this may be an item
helpful to making his life story seem even more predestined.
However, he did have close exposure as a child to horses because his
father was the driver of a horse-drawn hack. Stull could have
succeeded him, but instead went to New York City in 1873, hoping to be
an actor. However, he failed, and in order to make money, took a
job with an insurance company, "but the racetracks and considerable
innate artistic talent liberated him." (Peluso, 18B)|
Hoping to become an illustrator, Stull did a portfolio of sketches that he submitted to Frank Leslie, owner and editor of Leslie's Weekly.
Leslie hired him to do caricatures, cartoons and lampoons, a job he
held for three years. Meanwhile, he attended horse races, and
while watching one at Jerome Park in the Bronx, he sketched
"Fiddlesticks", a horse owned by August Belmont. Copying the
sketch to more high-quality paper, he submitted it to the editor of Sporting New Yorker, who published it. Belmont then saw the image of his horse, and used his influence to get Stull an illustration job with Spirit of the Times, a horse and sporting magazine, which in turn, attracted the attention of the editor of Harper's Weekly. With the title Race Horse Portraits at Monmouth Park, Stull's horse paintings were first published in Harper's on August 18, 1883.
Meanwhile, he began the study of horse anatomy at a veterinary college.
With his flattering horse portraits, highly accurate in musculature, he
also attracted the attention of other wealthy, powerful horse owners,
who became his patrons and clients including William Whitney, Pierre
Lorillard, Leonard Jerome, and several men who owned Kentucky Derby
winners---H.K. Knapp (Yankee Notions, 1913) and John Madden (Plaudit,
1898). Another client was Samuel Riddle, owner of Man o' War.
Not all comments on Stull's painting were complimentary. One
commentator wrote that his "paintings have the quality of caricature,
with the jockey bow-backed, as he urges his charge along, and the
horses extended like dragons so that it is almost surprising fire is
not emerging from the nostrils." (Peluso 18B)
Stull painted the portraits in his studio in New York City based on
drawings of the horses in their natural settings. He spent so much
time in the bluegrass horse country of Kentucky--his last visit in
1912--that it was said he might as well have lived there.
From 1879 to 1912, Stull painting horses in nearly every year, of which
more than 110 survive. At one time, each of the New York and
Brooklyn jockey clubs had between five and fifty of his
paintings. Stull not only painted horses but he bet on them and
also owned one, Brad Law, whose portrait he painted in 1902.
Stull is generally thought of as one of two major nineteenth-century
painters of thoroughbred racehorses in America. The other is
Stull died in 1913, the same year that the
Brighton Beach track closed, having succumbed, as did several others
earlier, to strong antigambling political pressure.
He was a member of the Coney Island Jockey Club; his work may be found in the Jockey Club of New York City.
A.J. Peluso, Jr., "Henry Stull's Horses Scratched", Maine Antique Digest, May 2006, p. 18, Section B
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
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