Art Collections: Paintings

The Start of the Derby, 1845

John Frederick Herring, Sr., (English, 1795-1865)
oil on canvas, 28 x 48 inches
Bequest of Elizabeth D. Clark, 2017

This crowded scene documents the 1845 running of the Derby Stakes in Epsom, England. Founded in 1780, the Epsom Derby, commonly just called “the Derby,” is one of the most famous events in thoroughbred racing. The winner of the 1845 race, named Merry Monarch, is shown in the center foreground of the painting. The horse was a long-shot in a field of 31, and this was his only career win. Also shown in the foreground is the horse Alarm kicking The Libel; an occurrence that was documented in extensive news coverage of the race.

The subject is typical of the work of Herring, Sr., who was known for his portraits of thoroughbreds and was appointed animal painter to Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent.

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