Fine Art specialist David Weiss shares what he considers to be some of the stand out works being offered in our November 19 auction The Sporting Sale. This specially curated new auction, celebrating the angling, equestrian and field sports represented in American and European fine and decorative arts, opens for exhibition on Sunday, November 15.
I very much like this painting, not only because of Emms’s technical skill as a painter, but it encapsulates what is a fan favourite about the artist: his ability to render nearly human emotion in animals. By titling the painting ‘A Boy’s Companions,’ it is clear that the subject is less about the kill of three hares, but rather about the relationship between the young man and his companions
"A Boy's Companions" (detail)
One of many in the auction from the same private collection, this work demonstrates Bonheur’s skill as a draftswoman, a not insignificant gender distinction given the paucity of women sporting artists in the late 19th century. Here Bonheur has painted three distinct groupings of rather noble horses in an interesting spatial relationship, with each grouping being placed on a diagonal from one another, and with each occupying the foreground, midground and background, respectively. The painting was featured in a prominent sporting auction in 1993, but has not since appeared on the market since that sale. Finally, ‘Horses in a Field’ was with MacConnal-Mason Gallery, one of London’s most prestigious and respected dealers.
"Horses in a Field" (detail)
Arguably the star lot of the auction, this fresh-to-market work by the British master of sporting painting in the first half of the 20th century typifies Munnings at his best: an English huntsman carefully surveying both his hounds and his immediate environs. In the distance at far right the viewer sees another hunter on horseback, convincingly rendered merely with dabs of paint. As always, Munnings captures his subject with confidence and painterly bravura, particularly in his depiction of the hounds – a whir of browns and white nearly lost amongst the Cornish foreground grasses and caught up in a single minded, dedicated pursuit.
Sir Alfred Munnings
"Huntsmen and Hounds, North Cornish Hunt" (detail)
Unlike a number of contemporaries, Frost was first and foremost a California landscapist, though within his oeuvre, sporting scenes play an important role. The viewer perceives a certain stillness in ‘Woodcock Hunting:’ the hunter’s gun is directly aimed at the bird at far right, his setter on point, each fixed in time. The somewhat monochromatic palette, rendered in cool autumn colors adds to the serene, ‘moment-in-time’ feel of the painting – though certainly the tranquility will be disturbed by the hunter’s shot…an image that the viewer is forced to imagine.
"Woodcock Hunting" (detail)
In an auction replete with high-quality period animalier casts, this bronze stands out, not only because of its somewhat monumental size, but because of the quality of its cast and its sense of grandeur. Arguably the sculptor’s most revered model, ‘Le Grand Jockey’ was cast by the Peyrol Editeur and retains its fine detail and sensitive modelling.
Isidore Jules Bonheur
"Le Grand Jockey"