Category Archive 'Sporting Art'

15 Sep 2022

“Autumn. Hunter”

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Isaac Levitan, Autumn. Hunter, 1880, Tver regional picture gallery, Tver.

HT: Sea Run.

07 Aug 2017

“After Woodcock”


Etching by Aiden Lassell Ripley.

04 Jun 2012

This Week’s Chronicle of the Horse Cover Picture

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Booth Malone, Scene From a Spaghetti Western, US Pony Club Headquarters, Lexington, Kentucky

Moppet vs. pony. The artist has captured that priceless moment of calm before the full-scale rumble gets underway. It’s easy to see why the US Pony Club acquired and hung this one.

14 Nov 2011

La Chasse Renversé

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Harry B. Nielson, Mr. Fox’s Hunt Breakfast on Christmas Day, chromolithograph print published in Vanity Fair, Christmas, 1897

The hunter characteristically admires, and even identifies with, his quarry, and that sense of identification commonly leads to the visualization in the hunter’s imagination of the animal object of the chase as a fellow sportsman, participating in the hunt with equal pleasure and enthusiasm and equal relish of tradition.

The fantasy of the quarry-sportsman gives rise to one of the most popular and best-loved genres of sporting art, images of La Chasse Renversé, the roles of hunters and hunted reversed. No foxhunter’s den is completely furnished without a humorous print like A.C. Havell’s Foxhunter’s Dream or the beloved Mr. Fox’s Hunt Breakfast (above).

The same comedic effect, and the same sportsman’s pleasure in thinking of his adversary in the field as fellow sportsman, can be found in shooting prints, like the very well-known contemporary print by Alexander Charles-Jones “Cocks Only,” which gleefully depicts a line of Ringnecked Pheasants in hunting vests, smoking cigars and drinking while peppering a discomfited group of incoming naked men.

Another classic example of the same humorous genre by Snaffles, published in Hoghunter’s Annual in the 1930s, depicts a couple of senior ranking boars smoking cigars and admiring trophy mounts of British officers acquired in the hunting field.

I had assumed, without any special investigation or thought on the matter, that this genre of sporting humor was specifically British and Victorian, but I was decidedly wrong.

What I have referred to as La Chasse Renversé is, at least, a common medieval artistic humorous subject, found in all sorts of forms and expressions, in paintings, sculpture, manuscript illuminations, and even tiles, representing a variation of all kinds of humorous reversals referred to in general as Le Monde Renversé. I feel sure, at this point, that a thorough search would produce similar examples of sporting facetiae from Classical Antiquity.

Some excellent examples of the hare turning the tables on the hunter were posted at Archivalia.

The Hunter’s Doom,” marginal illumination to The Romance of Alexander by Jehan de Grise and his atelier, 1338-44, Bodleiana Ms. 264, fol. 81v

20 Mar 2011

Karen and Thunderstorms in Art

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Linda Volrath, Bundled at the Races, oil on panel, 2008

On Friday, a new issue of Norman Fine’s Foxhunting Life appeared on-line, featuring a lead article by Linda Volrath, a well-known local artist, on “Equestrian Sports and Oil Paintings.” My wife Karen was somewhat startled to recognize herself as the figure in the foreground of the painting.

Ms. Volrath’s painting was inspired by a photograph taken at the 59th Running of Blue Ridge Hunt Point-To-Point Races at Woodley in Berryville, Virginia on March 8th 2008.

Karen and I had just become members of the Blue Ridge Hunt that season, and we were already drafted into serving as officials at the races. I was registering entries and issuing numbers. Karen was in charge of the trophies.

The weather was dark and chilly that day, and thunderstorms were predicted.

Sure enough, midway through the races, the heavens opened and violent winds buffeted the field. So powerful were the blasts of wind that a Porta Potty was actually blown over with a prominent local physician inside. He was photographed grinning gamely on his emergence, his trousers stained with blue disinfectant (Photograph 116 in Karen’s photo essay).

The storm even included an interval of golf ball-sized hail.

The Volrath painting shows Karen holding on to her hat in the high winds with aid of an ancient, moth-damaged Yale club scarf. Eventually, the storm passed, and the races were successfully concluded.

Karen was naturally amused to find that her image had been recorded in oils by someone whom (at the time) she had never met. She inquired about purchasing the painting, but the artist regretfully informed Karen that the painting had been sold very soon after its completion at a gallery in Annapolis.

It’s really quite a nice painting, too.


There is clearly some kind of artistic connection between Karen and thunderstorms.

A number of years ago, Maine artist Tom Hennessey executed in water-colors a painting of a dramatic incident featuring Karen landing a salmon on the Restigouche River in a thunderstorm.

We were fishing Red Pine Lodge’s pools from a 26′ Sharpe canoe, and it began to rain lightly just as I was starting my turn casting. I handed the 12′ Payne to Karen to hold for me, while I slipped on my jacket, and she insolently flipped out a short cast next to the canoe.

The red gods could not resist the opportunity for a joke, so instantly up came a salmon and seized the fly. (We’d been fishing for three days without the slightest action.)

The rain rapidly intensified, and soon it was coming down in torrents. The salmon ran powerfully downstream, out of the pool, and we were forced to raise the anchor and follow him.

Karen fought the salmon for ten or 15 minutes as we traversed hundreds of yards of river. Finally, he seemed to be beginning to tire, and the guide beached the canoe by a slow drift which seemed like a convenient location to try to land the fish.

As the storm intensified, one bolt of lightning after another began to strike the trees on top of the mountains above us, and I strongly urged Karen to get out of the river, at least, and stand on the beach (though I was far from confident of the effectiveness of such a precaution).

(I recall thinking that I was very happy about my reactionary preference for wooden fly rods, knowing what an excellent conductor graphite is.)

The guide was bent over and cringing, in his rain gear, and manifested no desire to get near enough to the river to net the fish but, finally, threats and encouragement prevailed. Karen reeled in the mighty salmon. The guide netted it, and the salmon was duly unhooked and released. (The Restigouche counts as New Brunswick water and has a no-kill policy on salmon.)

We returned to camp, soaked to the skin, but triumphant and alive.

Appropriately enough, the fly that Karen caught the salmon on was a Thunder and Lightning. The actual fly that took the salmon is mounted in the mat around the painting.

26 Jul 2006

Frank Benson – Salmon Fishing

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Frank W. Benson (1862-1951), Salmon Fishing
oil on canvas – 32 by 40 inches

This impressionist oil painting by renowned sporting artist Frank Benson is the highlight of today’s Sporting Sale, today and tomorrow at Boston’s Park Plaza Hotel by Copley Fine Art Auctions. The Benson is expected to sell between $600,000 and $900,000.


Sales price was $650,000 + 15% buyer premium = $747,500.00

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