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Creator:
George Stubbs, 1724–1806, British
Title:

Turf, with Jockey up, at Newmarket

Former Title(s):

Portrait of 'Turf' with Jockey up

Date:
ca. 1766
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
46 1/2 × 56 1/2 × 2 7/8 inches (118.1 × 143.5 × 7.3 cm) and 38 x 49 inches (96.5 x 124.5 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

Inscribed lower left: "Turf"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1981.25.621
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
animal art | breeches | brown | building | clouds | equestrian | hat | horse (animal) | horse racetracks | jockey | landscape | pasture | post | riding boots | sky | sporting art
Associated Places:
England | Europe | Newmarket | Suffolk | United Kingdom
Access:
On view in the galleries
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:5039
Export:
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Turf was owned by Frederick St. John, second Viscount Bolingbroke, the dissipated racing enthusiast who also owned the racehorse Lustre, seen in another painting by George Stubbs (shown nearby). Turf is represented with his jockey at Newmarket, headquarters of British racing, in front of a brick rubbing house where stablehands would wipe down sweating horses after an exercise or race. A small and fastidious study of the rubbing house is also shown nearby. Acquired by Bolingbroke in 1764, Turf proved himself by beating King Herod at Newmarket in a 1,000-guinea race in April 1766. This painting was probably commissioned to commemorate the victory, though Turf was retired lame only a year later.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2022



This racehorse portrait was painted for one of Stubbs’s best early patrons, the young Whig aristocrat Frederick St. John, 2nd Viscount (“Bully”) Bolingbroke. Lord Bolingbroke, who inherited the title in 1751 from the childless half-brother of his father, owned some of the most successful racehorses of the day, including the famous Gimcrack. Turf raced mostly at Newmarket, and the high point of his career was beating King Herod in a match for a thousand guineas on 4 April 1766. He was retired lame the following year. The alert, if somewhat nonchalant, jockey wears Bolingbroke's colors, but his identity is unknown. Gallery label for An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)



This racehorse portrait was painted for one of Stubbs's best early patrons, the young Whig aristocrat Frederick St. John, 2nd Viscount ("Bully") Bolingbroke. Lord Bolingbroke owned some of the most successful racehorses of the day, including the famous Gimcrack. Turf raced mostly at Newmarket, and the high point of his career was beating King Herod in a match for a thousand guineas on April 4, 1766. He was retired lame the following year. The alert if somehow nonchalant jockey wears Bolingbroke's colors, but his identity is unknown.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005
The painting of commissioned racehorse portraits, following in the tradition established by Wootton earlier in the eighteenth century, was central to Stubbs’s practice as an artist from about 1760 onwards. The present work was painted for one of his most important early patrons, the young Frederick St. John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke. (The 1st Viscount, the prominent statesman and political thinker, was his uncle.) Bolingbroke was a member and for a time Steward of the prestigious Jockey Club, and owned a number of the most successful horses of the time, including the famous Gimcrack. He employed Stubbs to paint several of them. Turf, the subject of the present work, was a bay colt foaled in 1760 by Match’em out of the Duke of Ancaster’s Starling mare. He raced mostly at Newmarket, and the high point of his career was beating King Herod in a match for a thousand guineas over the Beacon Course on April 4, 1766. Hewas retired as a result of lameness in 1767. The identity of the delightfully nonchalant-looking jockey is un­known; he wears Bolingbroke’s colors of a black jacket and cap with buff breeches. The brick building to the right is a rubbing-down house, a shed in which the stable lads would wipe off the horses’ sweat with straw or cloths after they had exercised or raced. There were four rubbing-down housesat Newmarket, and the present one seems to have been reserved for horses belonging to royal owners and members of the Jockey Club like Lord Bolingbroke. Stubbs painted a pair of oil sketches of different viewsat Newmarket in which it features prominently (Tate Gallery and Paul Mellon, Upperville, Virginia), the only known works by him without animal or human gures, and used them repeatedly as the basis for backgroundsto his racehorse paintings. The Mellon sketch clearly served for Turf and for a portrait of Gimcrack when he belonged to his previous owner, William Wildman (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), and the Tate sketch for a portrait of Gimcrack done for Bolingbroke after he had bought him (private collection). Turf shows not only Stubbs’s detached, meticulous approach to recording the particulars of a horse’s stance, coloring, and musculature, but also his impeccable feeling for design. The simple, rather bare landscape, the low horizon, and the large, blocky shapes of the rubbing-down house are carefully contrived as foils to the subtly undulating forms of the horse’s body, which stand out like relief sculpture against a at background. The side view was traditional in horse portraiture, but at this moment when the Neoclassical movement was taking shape in European art, it assumed special signicance: the prole was the viewpoint most associated with Antiquity—with ancient relief sculpture, and especially with the portraits of emperors and other illustrious personages on coins and medals—and with the simplic­ity and clarity that were essential to the eighteenth-century idea of classicism. To offset the static look of the prole, Stubbs gently implies motion, showing Turf’s tail overlapping the wall of the rubbing-down house and open ground before him as though he were moving from indoors to out. Another renement is the placement of the white post at the left edge of the canvas, which checks the tendency of the composition to run off at that side. The result is a design that appears so scrupulously judged that to change any element would be to disrupt the whole.

Malcolm Warner , This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, pp. 3-4, 116, no. 43, fig. 3, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)

George Stubbs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015-03-23 - 2015-11-13) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

George Stubbs (Neue Pinakothek - Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, 2012-01-26 - 2012-05-06) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Royal Academy of Arts, 2007-10-20 - 2008-01-27) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Stubbs & The Horse (National Gallery, London, 2005-06-29 - 2005-09-25) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Stubbs & The Horse (The Walters Art Museum, 2005-03-05 - 2005-05-20) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Stubbs & The Horse (Kimbell Art Museum, 2004-11-14 - 2005-02-06) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

British Galleries in the Hermitage (The State Hermitage Museum, 2002-06-21 - 2002-09-21) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

George Stubbs in the Collection of Paul Mellon: a Memorial Exhibition (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2000-02-14 - 2000-05-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

George Stubbs in the Collection of Paul Mellon: a Memorial Exhibition (Yale Center for British Art, 1999-04-30 - 1999-09-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of South Australia, 1998-09-16 - 1998-11-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Queensland Art Gallery, 1998-07-15 - 1998-09-06) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1998-05-01 - 1998-07-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Stubbs - An Exhibition in Honor of Paul Mellon (National Gallery of Art, 1985-04-11 - 1985-05-04) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

George Stubbs (1724-1806) Tate Gallery (Yale Center for British Art, 1985-02-13 - 1985-04-07) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

George Stubbs (1724-1806) Tate Gallery (Tate Britain, 1984-10-17 - 1985-01-06) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Noble Exercise - The Sporting Ideal in Eighteenth-Century British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 1982-07-14 - 1982-09-19) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Geoffrey Agnew, Yale's 1700 Mellon Pictures, The Times (London), issue no. 59989, Thursday, April 28, 1977, p. 9, Available Online : Times Digital Archive Also available on Microfilm : Film An T842 (SML) [ORBIS]

Cassandra Albinson, New Acquisitions, Apollo, v. 165, no. 542, April, 2007, p. 41, N1 A54 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

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, pp. 30, 253, no. 24, fig. 3, pl. 24, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Baskett, The horse in art, Little Brown, Boston, 1980, p. 99, Folio AN 51 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christie's sale catalogue : Catalogue of Pictures by Old Masters and Ancient and Modern Pictures : 10 December 1943, Christie's, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, December 10, 1943, p. 7, Lot 49, Fiche B51, Fiche# 2945 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christie's sale catalogue: Catalogue of the First Portion of the Important Collection of Sporting Pictures : 20 July 1951, Christie's, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, July 20, 1951, p. 28, Lot 126, Fiche B51, Fiche# 3229 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Robert Colls, This sporting life : sport and liberty in England, 1760-1960, Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K., 2020, p. 57, 371, pl. 2.1, GV706.35 .C65 2020 (LC) YCBA [ORBIS]

Malcolm Cormack, A Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 216-217, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, George Stubbs in the collection of Paul Mellon, a memorial exhibition , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn., 1999, pp. 10, 25, no. 8, NJ18 St915 G54 1999 (YCBA) Copy 2 is on Mellopn Shelf [YCBA]

Stephen Deuchar, Noble exercise : the sporting ideal in eighteenth-century British art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1982, pp. 31, 44, no. 43, ND1388 G7 D48+ (YCBA) [YCBA]

Richard Dorment, Beauty of the Beast, George Stubbs' meticulous paintings of horses made him greatest artist-scientist since Leonardo , Calgary Herald, July 9, 2005, G8, available online (Orbis) [ORBIS]

Judy Egerton, British Sporting and Animal Paintings 1655-1867: A Catalogue, The Paul Mellon Collection , Tate Publishing, London, 1978, pp. 78-9, no. 76A, Colour Pl. 12, ND1383 G7 B75 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Judy Egerton, George Stubbs, 1724-1806, [exhibition] Tate Gallery. , Tate Publishing, London, 1984, p. 87, no. 57, NJ18 St915 E43 (YCBA) + [YCBA]

Judy Egerton, George Stubbs, painter, catalogue raisonne , Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn., London, 2007, pp. 233-1, no. 72, NJ18 St915 A12 E44 2007 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Michael Jaffe, Stubbs, a self portrait , Burlington Magazine, vol. 127, no. 983, February, 1985, p. 85, N1 B87 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, pp. 3-4, no. 43, fig. 3, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John McDonald, A Feast of Mellon, Sydney Morning Herald, May 9, 1998, p. 14, Film An Sy25 (SML) Also Available Online (Factiva database) [ORBIS]

National Gallery of British Sports and Pastimes, list of sports and pastimes : the first 600 selected pictures : there are 3,000 and more paintings, coloured prints, etc., which will be exhibited from time to time. , National Gallery of British Sports and Pastimes, London, 1950, p. 27, no. 111, N8250 L65 (YCBA) [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) [YCBA]

Herbert W Rott, George Stubbs, 1724-1806, science into art , Prestel, Munich ; New York, 2012, pp. 140-41, cat no. 25, NJ18.St915 A1213 2012 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Roberta Smith, Horses, Hounds and Men, at Work and at Play, New York Times, August 7, 2015, p. C19, C22, Available online : Proquest .com/nytimes [ORBIS]

Stubbs, an exhibition in honor of Paul Mellon : National Gallery of Art, 4 May-2 June 1985. , National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1985, no. 7, V 0413 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Warner, Stubbs & the Horse, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2004, pp. 86, 184-85, cat. no. 46, fig. 79, NJ18 St915 W37 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Wilmerding, In honor of Paul Mellon, collector and benefactor, Essays , National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC & Hanover, NH, 1986, pp. 34-35, fig. 6, N7442.2 M455 1986 (YCBA) [YCBA]


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