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National Museum of Australia

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Oil on linen portrait of the racehorse 'Jorrocks'

2013.0008.0001

Oil on linen portrait of the racehorse 'Jorrocks'

Object information

Physical description

An oil painting on linen, mounted on a fixed Baltic pine timber stretcher. The painting depicts a portrait of a chestnut coloured horse with a docked tail. The horse is standing in a rendered green and brown grassy landscape against a blue sky with pink tinted clouds. 'JORROCKS' is painted below the horse in white. Also featured on the grass is a piece of white cloth or paper.

Statement of significance

This collection comprises an 1840s(?) portrait of Australian Anglo-Arabian racehorse ?Jorrocks? (1833-1860) by an unidentified amateur artist. The horse is a chestnut colour, lacking white markings and with a distinctive docked tail. He stands in a simple pastoral landscape against a blue sky. This oil on linen artwork is mounted on a fixed Baltic pine timber strainer measuring 64.3 x 81.2 cm. Although objectively a naïve depiction of Jorrocks, the work bears many compositional similarities to a better-known portrait by Edward Winstanley (1820-1849). The portrait remains in a good state of conservation.

The 'Jorrocks collection' is a significant early representation of a famed Australian racehorse. Horseracing is a critical aspect of Australian sporting culture, as well as national notions of leisure and social interaction. This work lends insight into the extensive circulation and duplication of visual representations of famed racehorses during the colonial era, and colonial pride in horse ownership. It also allows for exploration of the preoccupation with documenting conformation and pedigree as a marker of strength, stamina and ability, and further demonstrates the contribution of Arabian horse breeders to the development of the Australian racing industry.

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