Sunday, October 14, 2018

"Family of Champions" by George Ford Morris

(A version of this post originally appeared in 2014 in my other blog, The Estate Sale Chronicles.)

We've talked before about the importance of equine art in the life and research of model horse collectors.

I found a somewhat hidden treasure at an estate sale back in 2014.  In a bedroom closet, in a box, underneath a bunch of mass-produced prints "suitable for framing" (that no one ever bothered to frame), was an old matted picture of three horses: a stallion, a mare, and a foal. They were extremely well-drawn.

Even though I'd  never seen this particular work before, the name of the artist popped into my head almost before I could think:

George Ford Morris.

And indeed the picture was signed, in pencil, on the lower right, next to the colt.

The picture is a lithograph called "Family of Champions" by American artist George Ford Morris (1873-1960).  Morris has been described as the foremost American equestrian artist of his time.  He was mostly self-taught; his original art today commands serious prices.  One blogger notes:  

In his day there was no finer American equestrian artist than George Ford Morris. By painting horses, riders and their owners, Morris captured on canvas the ever-changing world of "Town and Country" Americana.

Even though many breeds were represented in his work, George Ford Morris is perhaps most associated with the American Saddlebred horse.  And this picture of the "Family of Champions" is an early 20th century equine equivalent of an official court portrait of William, Kate and baby George.

The stallion in the lithograph was the famous show horse and sire Bourbon King, a chestnut American Saddlebred stallion foaled in 1900.

Here's a photograph of the real-life Bourbon King.

The gray mare was Princess Eugenia, foaled in 1909.

Here she is, in real life.

George Ford Morris took this headstudy of Princess Eugenia.

And the chestnut colt was King's Genius, foaled in 1924.

King's Genius grew up to be quite a handsome fellow, a champion show horse and sire of champions.

Before I found this lithograph at the estate sale, I'd never seen any of George Ford Morris' work in person, although I have spent many hours looking at reproductions of his art in books.  You can click on some of the links below to see other works by this talented 20th century artist.
Here's a link to an art gallery website with a short biography of George Ford Morris:

Ed and Sheri Alcorn have a wonderful website with pictures of many pieces of art they own by George Ford Morris.  It's also a very useful resource for information on ceramic animals produced by Hagen-Renaker, Inc.

Here's an article on the history of the American Saddebred:

No comments:

Post a Comment