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Benjamin Marshall, 1768–1835, British
Muly Moloch
Oil on canvas
Support (PTG): 40 x 50 inches (101.6 x 127 cm)

Signed and dated, lower left: "B. Marshall p. 1803"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
animal art | bottle | carriage | clouds | costume | fur | horse (animal) | horses (animals) | light | men | roof | tents | walking sticks
Associated Places:
England | Europe | Newmarket | Suffolk | United Kingdom
On view
Curatorial Comment:
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This is one of two paintings that Marshall painted for Lord Darlington, whose busy stud was at Raby Castle, near Durham in the north of England. The other picture, formerly in the collection of Lord Barnard, is a portrait of another of Lord Darlington's thoroughbred racehorses, the champion Haphazard. Muly Moloch was foaled in 1798. His sire was John Bull (by the famous Herod, a descendant of the Byerly Turk), who won the Derby in 1792. Muly Moloch's dam was a mare called Mistletoe, the daughter of Pot-8-os (also known as 'Pot-"oooooooo"-s,' the winner of thirty races and the sire of three Derby winners). Muly won seven out of thirteen races from 1800 to 1803 and competed against some of the strongest horses of his generation. He did well in 1801 but in 1802 was overtaken and humiliated by Quiz, first in August at York, then again the following month in the St. Leger at Doncaster. Although Muly had begun as a favorite, odds were rapidly readjusted, and in 1803 the horse was given a long break from racing. He was defeated again in October, when Lord Darlington attempted a comeback at Newmarket, after which Muly was retired to stud. The painting records with considerable verity the restlessness of the horse, whose heart is still racing after the contest and for whom the brushing, scraping, and rubbing down are disturbing. The horse blanket and drench bottle (probably port or brandy, administered before the race) are clearly shown in the foreground. The stable lad's name was Tod, and the three onlookers are Hardy, the trainer (gesturing with emphasis); Thompson, the head gardener at Raby Castle; and Trotter, an elderly tenant of Lord Darlington's and an enthusiastic connoisseur of the turf. Marshall was particularly skillful at the characterization of his rich patrons' tenants and servants, as Stubbs was before him. The task of creating affectionate but plausible portraits of men such as this, with whom the squire shared a love and enthusiasm for sport but whose social position was unambiguously inferior to and indeed dependent upon his, created a delicate problem of decorum for artists whose own social and professional situation brought them approximately into the range of positions to which servants aspired and in which tenants to some extent felt secure; but it also required them to see servants, tenants and farmworkers, gamekeepers, and stable lads through the eyes and with the instincts, sympathy, and imagination of the squire. The name Moloch appears in Leviticus, the second Book of Kings, and the prophet Jeremiah as the name of an idolatrous Canaanite god of fire. The affectionate use of the bucolic prefix Muly implies stubbornness and earthy persistence, underlying the hot color, theatricality, and flamboyance of the Hebrew name.
--Angus Trumble,2007-01
Exhibition History:
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The Paul Mellon Bequest : Treasures of a Lifetime (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-02-17 - 2001-04-29)

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Royal Academy of Arts, 2007-10-20 - 2008-01-27)

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John Baskett, Paul Mellon's legacy, a passion for British art : masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 279, no. 81, pl. 81, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

John Baskett, The horse in art, Little Brown, Boston, 1980, p. 106, Folio AN 51 (YCBA)

John Baskett, The horse in art, Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn., 2006, pp. 130-131, N7668 H6 B37 2006 (YCBA)

Frank Davis, Translation in Visual Language, Country Life, vol. 162, 14 July 1977, p. 71, S3 C68 162:1 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Dorcas Macclintock, Ben Marshall's horse sense : Muly Moloch enjoyed a prominent place in the late Paul Mellon's private collection, Equine Images, Summer, 2001, pp. 71-74, V 2531 (YCBA)

Huon Mallalieu, Sale of Race Horse Painting for £55,000 Emphasizes Popularity of Ben Marshall, The Times (London), London, 19 March 1977, p.16, Available online: Times Digital Archive Also available on Microfilm: Film An T482 (SML)

Aubrey Noakes, Ben Marshall, 1767-1835, F. Lewis, Publishers, Limited, Leigh-on-Sea, 1978, p. 37, no. 79, NJ18 M3843 A12 N63 + (YCBA)

Duncan Robinson, At home to sporting art : the Brick House, Essays of Friends of British Sporting Art, no. 33, The British Sporting Art Trust, Summer 1997, p. 5, N8250 .B751 (YCBA)

Walter Shaw Sparrow, George Stubbs and Ben Marshall, v. 2, Cassell Scribner, London New York, 1929, pp. 52-3, NJ18 St915 S73 1929 (YCBA) +

Walter Shaw Sparrow, British sporting artists from Barlow to Herring, Scribner, London New York, 1922, p. 178, ND1385 S6 (YCBA) +

Angus Trumble, Diversions of the Field, Apollo, v. 165, no. 542, April 2007, pp. 63,64, fig. 5, N1 A54 + (YCBA)

Malcolm Warner, The Paul Mellon Bequest : treasures of a lifetime, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 84, N5247 M385 P28 2001 (YCBA)

Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 3, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA)

The Yale Center for British Art, An Anniversary Celebration of Paul Mellon's Great Legacy , Apollo, April 2007, p. 64, fig. 5, N5220 M552 A7 OVERSIZE (YCBA) Appeared as April 2007 issue of Apollo;; all of the articles may also be found in bound Apollo Volume [N1 A54 165:2 +]

Christie's Sale Catalogue : Important English Pictures : Friday, 18 March 1977, Christie's, March 18, 1977, pp. 20-21, lot. 35, pl. 35, Sales Catalogues (YCBA)

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