On Southern Turf

One of the Brockmans' most important paintings is the portrait of the undefeated racehorse Asteroid, owned by Robert Alexander of Woodburn Stud in Kentucky (Fig. 8). It was painted by Troye about 1864, not long before Confeder­ate guerillas raided Woodburn and stole Asteroid. (The horse was later ran­somed, survived a second attempted theft, and was sent north for the duration of the war.)8 Pictured to the right of Asteroid is his trainer Ansel Williamson, loaned to Woodburn as a slave; Robert Alexander later showed his admiration by naming a thoroughbred after him.9 To Asteroid's left, adjusting his boots, is the teenage jockey Ed "Brown Dick" Brown, purchased as a slave at age seven, who later became an accomplished trainer. The name of the young groom standing beside Brown remains a mystery. For unknown reasons, Troye painted the scene twice. The painting's twin was formerly owned by Paul Mellon and currently belongs to the Vir­ginia Museum of Fine Art. The Brockmans acquired Asteroid at a seminal event-the 2004 Sotheby's sale of the Jeffords Collec­tion, considered the finest collection of American sporting art ever to come to auction. Mr. and Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords were prominent owners not just of sporting art, but also of numerous champion horses, and Walter Jeffords's father, himself a collector, married the niece of Samuel Riddle (owner of Man O' War). "I went to that auction intending to buy two paintings and I walked out with seven, plus a trophy and a sculp­ture of Man O' War," Hank says. "It was the opportu­nity to put together the foundation of a really good collection, and pushed us to another level."

The bronze bust of Man O' War by Herbert Haseltine that once stood on Samuel Riddle's bedside table now occupies a place of honor in the Brockmans' airy gallery underneath a prized image from Hank's early twentieth-century photog­raphy collection (Fig. 19). Taken at Faraway Farm about 1940, it shows Haseltine standing beside Man O' War and his beloved groom Will Harbut; at the left is a small version of Haseltine's full-sized bronze rendition of the thoroughbred (now a centerpiece at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington).

"So much of what matters to me about collecting is the association, being able to connect an object with a person, time, and place, and that photograph is a great example," Hank says.

The Brockmans began collecting presentation silver from nineteenth-century agricultural and mechanical societies for similar reasons. A prime example of the importance of the land in southern material culture, these pieces were awarded at fairs, expositions, and naturally, horse races, up to about the time of the Civil War. Their inscriptions often reveal a wealth of information about who gave it and who received it, when, where, and why.

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by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton

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