Art Work on the Australian Horse, Daily Racing Form, 1923-03-07


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Art Work on the Australian Horse BY SALVATOR SALVATORThe The only possible criticism that could be offered of Sir Vosburghs recently published Racing in America was that the illustra ¬ tions were not of the same admirable qual ¬ ity as the text They were profuse not to say elaborate and some of them were excel ¬ lent but in other cases they were unsatis ¬ factory I have lately received another vol ¬ ume however which is the most beautifully illustrated one devoted to the thoroughbred that has yet come to my attention It is entitled Race Horses in Australia with the subtitle With Paintings by Martin Stainforth the text being provided by sev ¬ eral different collaborators The publication is due to Art in Australia Ltd a firm which also publishes an art magazine of the same name nameThe The feature of this very handsome volume is a series of twentyfour exquisite color plates reproductions of paintings of great Australian thoroughbreds by the late Martin Stainforth As a rule I do not become enthusiastic over paintings of thoroughbreds nor reproductions thereof In most instances the paintings themselves make no appeal to me either as portraits or works of art while the reproductions are usually futili ¬ ties But while I have never had the good fortune to behold in the flesh a single one of the horses portrayed by Stainforth merely from studying the reproductions in this book I would rank him as the most accomplished and interesting horse portraitist of his time a true master His original canvases must be things of rare beauty and true art works He contrives to give to each of his sub ¬ jects that rare quality an individuality dif ¬ ferent from all the others The drawing is admirable as a general thing The color is beautiful The composition and handling are technically expert and the rendering of equine character intimate and expressive expressivePLATES PLATES ARE ARTISTIC ARTISTICAll All these things are faithfully brought out in the reproductions These were made under the superintendence of Harry Julius and tho letter press informs the reader that many of the plates were remade again and again before thoroughly satisfactory ones were obtained But the results are worthy o such care and pains Each plate is sepa ¬ rately printed and mounted upon a page of the book leaving the ample margin neces szary for an artistic setting Each one has a gemlike glowing effect that charms the eye Everywhere is apparent the earnest effort of the artist to achieve truth to nature and to portray it with every resource at his command The success attained is as I have stated beyond anything else of the kind that has yet come to my notice noticeThe The frontispiece a thing of striking and noble beauty is a head and neck of the great stayer Trafalgar The other plates are as follows Musket Carbine Trenton Cross Battery the finish V B C Flyin Stakes 1902 Malster Wallace Lanius Lin acre Yippingale Trafalgar full figure Brattle Poitrel Gloaming Artilleryman Triptych showing Cross Battery with Artil ¬ leryman at foot Comedy King and Artillery ¬ man Cetigne Kennaquhair Comedy King Woorak Panacre Eurythmic and the finish for the A J C Craven Plate 1918 1918In In addition a number of blackandwhite plates reproduce other paintings by the artist together with photos and old prints of early Australian cracks and views of the principal Australian race courses of the present day The text which is contributed by Dr W H Lang Dr Stewart McKay and Messrs Ken Austin and Frank Wilkin ¬ son Martindale includes essays on Race Horses in Australia a valuable historical article by Dr Lang an appreciation of Martin Stainforth as man and painter by Dr McKay The Secret of Staying Power a very interesting discussion of this much mooted subject also by Dr McKay The A J C and Randwick by Mr Austin The V R C and Flemington by Dr Lang on the studs of Australia by Mr Austin and Famous Race Horses by Mr Wilkinson WilkinsonThe The volume is a fine piece of book pro ¬ duction in all respects and the publishers as well as the turf devotees of Australia may well feel proud of it and the manner in which it displays to the world their home horses and racing sport The only sad fea ¬ ture is the fact that during the course of production Martin Stainforth was taken away by death not living to see the publication of a book that should make him famous as a horse painter in all parts of the world In this respect there is a strang parallel be ¬ tween his case ant1 that of Bruce Lowe the Australian author of the Figure System who also died before the publication of his work workStainforth Stainforth however was not like Lowe a native of Australia He was an English ¬ man who did not go to Australia until 1909 He had served a thorough artistic appren ¬ ticeship in the mother country but did not really find himself until he reached the Antipodes He was a man with a highly trained eye and hand an expert knowledge of the anatomy and habits of the horse and the ability to depict truth and beauty with ¬ out sacrificing either the one or the other to a false ideaiism the curse of the vast majority of efforts in horse portraiture He made careful sketches from the life also used the cameras aid neglecting nothing that would enable him to attain realism and disclose personality and individuality His efforts are not however faultless To the writers eye there are some details of some of his paintings in which he was not so successful as in others But in the best of them there seems practically nothing to criticize They are simply superb What would not one give for a similar gallery of portraits of Americas great racers Some of these reproductions are from paintings which Stainforth executed expressly for this volume others from those done by him in past years The mighty Carbine is shown as a sixfyearold a picture of extreme inter ¬ est Trenton at fourteen Malster at twenty three etc Nothing could be happier than the studies of mares and foals which have a feeling and atmosphere that strike home to any man who has like the writer spent some of the pleasantcst hours of his life in the paddock and pasture among embryo racers and their mothers en famille familleCALLS CALLS DICKEY TO IHIXD IHIXDIn In many respects the work of Stainforth reminds me of that of the American artist Robert L Dickey As a draughtsman I think Dickey fully the equal in some ways per ¬ haps even the superior of Stainforth His faculty of catching the different individuali ¬ ties of different horses all the large and salient characters not only but the small and usually overlooked ones as well is not less than the Australian masters while his faculty of composition and technique is just as able ableBut But Dickey with all his rare gifts found American owners so unappreciative of his work that he abandoned it and turned to magazine illustration and cartooning spe ¬ cializing in animals more particularly dogs than horses and lias there won wide fame His commissions keep him so busy that of late years he has refused practically all orders for horse portraits and with a regret ¬ ful laugh counts his efforts in that metier a lost art Certainly his abandonment of horse portraiture is a loss to American art in that field especially when one recalls the crude and often grotesque horse por ¬ traits turned out by other painters and in some instances bringing ridiculous prices paintings with the merest minimum of either artistic excellence or faithful portraiture from any standpoint standpointBut But to return to Race Horses in Aus ¬ tralia I do not suppose many copies will find their way to America but those horse ¬ men of this country who add the volume to their libraries will have a treasure

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