British Sporting Art
Tue 11 May 10 - Sun 10 Oct 10
British Sporting Art, will explore the genre of Sporting Art in Britain, from horseracing and hunting to boxing, football and cricket.
Central to the theme of the exhibition, which will include works by George Stubbs, Sir Alfred Munnings and George Morland, is John Bowes, the founder of the Museum and the first man to lift the renowned Triple Crown. Inspired by Bowes’ love for horseracing and its importance to the story behind The Bowes Museum, this exhibition will explore his prolific racing career and the wider genre of Sporting Art.
The branch of painting which has come to be known as British Sporting Art was at its height during the 18th Century, when horseracing fervour swept the nation. It was a golden age for sporting artists, the most famous of which was Stubbs, with an urge to immortalise winners on canvas. Despite it being rejected by connoisseurs as a low form of art, and by Sir Joshua Reynolds as genre painting, Stubbs was a significant presence at the Royal Academy annual exhibitions, to huge critical acclaim.
Featured in the display will be the Museum’s painting, Cotherstone, by J F Herring Jnr, and John Ferneley’s Beeswing. The former was bought at auction from Christie’s in New York in 2006, Cotherstone being one of Bowes’ most successful racehorses, while the latter is on long term loan to the Museum. Beeswing won 51 from 64 races, becoming quite a celebrity, with several public houses named after her.
Artists such as Gillray, whose work also features in the exhibition, were quite different from those depicting field sports. They produced detailed portraits of boxers and comical sporting scenes, which were reproduced in popular print form.
The exhibition will consider whether this in itself is a statement about the class system in the 18th Century, particularly as the print industry became prominent. It will also consider the next generation of painters – Herring Snr & Jnr and Henry Alken, who faced less prejudice than their predecessors, and will conclude with more recent sporting paintings by Munnings, whose hunting scenes are instantly recognisable.
Lifelike bronzes of racehorses, deer and gundogs, by sculptor Sally Arnup, will enhance the sporting art.
Programme of events
18 May, 1, 15 & 29 June, 6 & 20 July, 3, 17 & 31 Aug, 14 & 28 Sept, 2.30
Join Laura Layfield, curator of British Sporting Art, for an introductory tour of the exhibition. No booking required.
British Sporting Art Lecture
29 July, 2.30 – 3.30, £12.00 Adults, £11.00 Concs, £5.00 Friends of The Bowes Museum
Laura Layfield, curator of the British Sporting Art exhibition, explores the rise in popularity of Sporting Art in Britain during the 18th Century.
Children's workshops - Clay Tile Making
3 & 4 Aug, 11.00 – 1.00 & 2.00 – 4.00, £2.00 per tile
Make a clay tile, inspired by the British Sporting Art exhibition, with Education Officer, Amy Longstaff. Booking required on 01833 694602.