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National Museum of Australia

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Portrait painting of Phar Lap

2002.0075.0001

Portrait painting of Phar Lap

Object information

Description

Equine artist Stuart Reid painted several portraits of Phar Lap and was given direct access to the horse in order to paint him from life. It is unclear if this portrait was a study for a larger work, or if it was a copy of a painting Reid had already completed.

Physical description

A framed and glazed colour portrait painting of Phar Lap. Phar Lap's head is painted in profile on an off-white coloured background. The artist's signature 'STUART REID' is written in the bottom right corner of the painting.

Statement of significance

The Peter Kerville collection consists of a framed oil painting of the head of race horse Phar Lap, painted by Australian artist Stuart Reid.

The racehorse Phar Lap remains a popular icon of Australian culture, despite it being almost 80 years since his death. Foaled in Timaru New Zealand in 1926, he was acquired by battling Sydney trainer Harry Telford for owner David J. Davis, an American businessman. After a slow start, his successes on the track earned him an eager following, and not just among racegoers. His seemingly effortless victories and consistent form made him the darling of a nation battling the depression. His fame also came at a time when improvements were being made to print and broadcast technology, exposing a broader audience to his exploits on the track.

Object information

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