18th Century
The Baronet

Oil on canvas, signed and dated 1794 lower right
Image size: 14 x 17 ¼ inches (35.5 x 44 cm)
Original gilt frame

This work depicts the well-known racehorse Baronet, a much celebrated horse owned by the Prince of Wales (George IV).

This work captures the character of the horse as well as its anatomical likeness. Note the turned-back ears, wide-open eyes alert to the world, gleaming flanks and lean, glossy fetlocks. The horse is standing in a wide open space with the natural light illuminating the animal. The background has been delicately painted around the figure of the horse and is most likely showing Newmarket Heath. Newmarket Heath has been the place where kings exercised their horses since at least the time of Henry VIII and in the eighteenth century became the most important centre for horse-racing in Britain.

The flatness of the ground is broken by a clump of trees and a fence in the foreground with more thickets on the horizon. The treatment of the clouds is particularly noteworthy and anticipates the work of the Suffolk artist John Constable.

The horse was born in 1785 and was bred by Lord Sherborne. The colt would later be sold to the Prince of Wales. The horse began racing in 1789 but its best year was in 1791 when it won the competitive Oatland Stakes. The Baronet was famously depicted by George Stubbs in a painting acquired by George IV and remains in the Royal Collection.