Lot 2: John Francis Sartorius (British, d. 1831)
A Celebration of the English Country House: Sporting and Marine Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture
April 9, 1999
New York, NY, USA
Description: 'GREY DIOMED', 'LURCHER', 'SIR THOMAS' AND 'FLYING CHILDERS': A SET OF FOUR HORSE PORTRAITS each titled, three signed and dated 98, one signed with initials and dated 96 oil on copper each: 4 7/8 by 6 1/4 in. 12.4 by 15.9cm. (4) 'Grey Diomed' was bred by Sir Charles Bunbury in 1785 from his inaugural Derby winner 'Diomed' out of 'Grey Dorimant'. 'Diomed', the winner of the 1780 Derby, was exported to the United States where he began an important blood-line including 'Lexington'. 'Grey Diomed' had a successful racing career in Britain and was eventually sold by the Duke of Bedford and exported to Russia, where he continued his winning career and founded an important blood-line. 'Lurcher' was a bay colt foaled in 1789 by 'Dungannon' out of a mare by 'Eclipse'. Bred by Mr. Rutter, he raced first for Mr. Rider in 1792 and was then sold to Mr. Christopher Wilson who raced him during the 1793 and 1794 seasons. In 1792 'Lurcher' won four races, dead-heated in a match and lost his only race at Brighton when he ran out. In 1793 he won three races from four starts for his new owner Mr. Wilson, including at Newmarket on 15 April 1793 a 500 pounds stirling Sweepstakes run over the Ditch-in-Course, where he beat Sir Frank Standish's 'Kitt Carr' and Mr. Peregrine Wentworth's 'Ormond'. In 1794 he won the first class of the Oatlands and then beat 'Druid' in what was called the Main of the Oatlands. 'Sir Thomas' was a chestnut colt foaled in 1785 by 'Pontac' out of 'Sportsmistress'. He was owned by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales (later King George IV) and won the Derby in 1788. This was the first time that the royal colors had been carried to victory in the Epsom Classic. 'Sir Thomas' ran only once as a two-year-old winning at Newmarket for his original owner. The Prince then purchased the colt for 2000 guineas and 'Sir Thomas'won his first two races of the 1785 season winning the Prince's Stakes and the Bolton Stakes both at Newmarket. Following his Derby win, 'Sir Thomas'returned to Newmarket for the Houghton Meeting and defeated 'Aurelius' (who he beat in the Derby), and the following spring he won the Jockey Club Stakes. There followed two defeats (one from 'Grey Diomed') before 'Sir Thomas' won a sweepstakes and a match at York, and a purse at Newmarket. As a five-year-old, he won three starts at Newmarket and then disappeared completely from all record books. 'Flying Childers' was a bay colt by the 'Darley Arabian' out of 'Betty Leedes', bred by Colonel Leonard Childers in 1714 and sold to the Duke of Devonshire in 1715. He is generally considered as the first supreme champion thoroughbred racehorse and was known as 'the fleetest horse that ever ran at Newmarket.' Little is known of his career other than victories over the Duke of Bolton's 'Speedwell' in 1721 and the Earl of Drogheda's 'Chaunter' in 1722, both at Newmarket. Perhaps that was his career, and that he was so superior that no opponents could be found for him. His immense fame seems built upon a series of special speed trials he was put through at Newmarket, where he is said to have achieved some phenomenal times. In one trial in May 1722 he beat a high-class horse called 'Fox' (carrying 28 lb. less in weight) and won by nearly two furlongs. We are grateful to Graham Budd for providing this catalogue note.