Lot 99
  • 99

John Frederick Herring Sr.

900,000 - 1,200,000 USD
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  • John Frederick Herring Sr.
  • The Start of the Goodwood Gold Cup, 1831, Lord Chesterfield's Priam, His Majesty King William IV's Fleur de Lis, and Mr. Stonehewer's Variation
  • signed J.F.Herring and dated 1832 (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 27 by 42 in.
  • 70.5 by 106.5 cm


Commissioned by George Augustus Frederick, 6th Earl of Chesterfield
The 7th Earl of Chesterfield (acquired by descent from the above, his father) 
Lady Evelyn Stanhope (acquired by descent from the above, her brother)
The 5th Earl of Carnarvon (acquired from the above, his mother, and sold, Christie's, London, June 3, 1918, lot 178)
Clendenin J. Ryan, New York
Sale: Parke Bernet, New York, January 19, 1940, lot 211
George F. Ryan, Newport, Rhode Island 
Diana D. Ryan (acquired by descent from the above)
Thomas Mellon Evans, New York (acquired from the above, 1970, and sold, his sale, Christie's, New York, December 3, 1998, lot 27, illustrated)
Acquired at the above sale


The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work is in lovely condition. The canvas has a glue lining. The paint layer is fairly smooth, but this would not have originally been a highly textured work. The fine details throughout the picture are beautifully preserved. There is no abrasion or weakness to even the finest details. There are retouches around the extreme edges, but no other restorations are identifiable.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

The paintings of John Frederick Herring, Sr. are undoubtedly the most accurate depictions of the history of the turf in the first half of the nineteenth century. He painted most of the Derby, Oaks, and St. Leger winners and prints of his paintings were widely distributed. His early stylistic development of rendering important racehorses in naturalistic settings is evident in the present work, The Start of the Goodwood Gold Cup, 1831, Lord Chesterfield’s Priam, his Majesty King William IV’s Fleur de Lis, and Mr, Stonehewer’s Variation, and the poses of these horses are repeated in his later large paintings the Start of the Derby, 1834 won by Plenipotentiary and the Start of the Derby, 1835 won by Mundig. Herring often repeated paintings in exact detail, changing only the colors of the silks and horses.

The present work was commissioned by the 6th Earl of Chesterfield (1805-1866), owner of Priam and an important patron of the turf and legendary sportsman, well known for his extravagance and flamboyant lifestyle which earned him the nickname of "The Magnificent". It is one of a number of compositions by Herring depicting Lord Chesterfield's horses including Priam beating Lord Exeter's Augustus at Newmarket (sold, in these rooms, June 9, 1989, lot 75) and Industry and Caroline Elvina (sold, Christie's London, April 24, 1987, lot 24) which were first sold by his grandson, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, in 1918 (possibly to fund his excavations in Egypt of the tomb of King Tutenkhamen).

A later version of this painting, dated 1833, was in the collection of the Marchioness of Graham, who inherited the painting from her father the 12th Duke of Hamilton (sold, Christie's London, May 23, 1919, lot 273). When this later version reappeared at auction from the collection of Mrs. Miriam Leader (sold, Sotheby's London, March 18, 1970, lot 80), it was underbid by the American financier, philanthropist and thoroughbred racehorse owner Thomas Mellon Evans. Being unsuccessful, he sought out and with the assistance of E. J. Rousuck of Wildenstein purchased this primary version on the same day.

In 1831, Priam won the Craven Stakes and was purchased by Lord Chesterfield, and continued to win a number of races for his new owner. This painting depicts the only three starters for the 1831 Goodwood Gold Cup circling before the start of the race. After winning the Goodwood Gold Cup again in 1832, Priam was retired to stud at Lord Chesterfield's Bretby Park where he became an important sire, and in 1835 was sold for a record sum and exported to Virginia by Merritt and Company, making Priam one of the most important stallions on both sides of the Atlantic during the middle of the nineteenth century.