The Clark family was known for their equestrian paintings since the early 1800s. William Albert Clark was one of the family’s last painters, having worked between the years 1906 and 1937. Sally Mitchell, the rather opinionated author of “The Dictionary of British Equestrian Artists,” ranks his skill as “quite good.”
This painting is signed by the artist and dated 1925. Interesting to note is that in Mary Ann Wingfield’s “A Dictionary of Sporting Artists: 1650-1990,” there is a reference to a business card that was clamped to one of his paintings that read: “W.A. Clark—animal and portrait painter. Studio—51 Hanover Road, South Tottenham, London, N., Gentlemen waited upon in any part of the country.” On the back of this painting is written the artist’s name and the same address also.
To simply say that this is an elegant and charming portrait of a beautiful chestnut horse would be an understatement. Having specialized in equestrian paintings for over three decades, I’ve come to appreciate the truly gifted artists from many of the others who painted sporting subjects.
The artist’s skill lies in getting the confirmation of the horse correct, the proper proportions of the head and neck, and the animal’s musculature. Without these skills, a horse portrait can come out just not looking right. (However, many early equestrian portraits intentionally had horses out of proportion, with small heads, and were very popular in their day; it’s just not a style I could live with.) This artist painted more realistic, winning, and sensitive portraits that illustrate the strength and grace of the animal. His heads were particularly well done, showing a soft muzzle and almost human-like eyes. By using a traditional approach to this painting of this horse in a stall, the artist has turned what might have been an ordinary painting into a classic and beautiful portrait of a fine animal.
The colors Clark choose here were very traditional; that is, the stall in drab greens, the hay in shades of gold and brown with individual small pieces of hay highlighted in cream, and the rich deep reddish-brown color of the chestnut horse.
I have re-framed the painting in a Victorian antique bird’s eye maple frame of exceptional color, patina and pattern. The frame is earlier than the painting, but it sets it off wonderfully. It has a soft lemon-yellow gilded slip that adds a welcome touch of gold leaf to our majestic horse portrait. The frame is in excellent condition for its age. The gesso and wood gilded slip has one slight loss, which is normal. As I have had the painting professionally cleaned, it is in ready-to-hang condition.
This is a charming and beautiful painting by an artist well known for the quality of his equestrian portraits and at the top of his game when it was painted. I can’t imagine anywhere in your home that wouldn’t benefit from it.
It measures 28-1/2 inches wide by 24-3/8 inches high, including the frame.
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