Edward Troye (Swiss/American, 1808-1874)
Oil on laminated paper, 17" x 23"
An exceptional Lot for both collectors of Edward Troye's work and sporting art enthusiasts, it is a rare example of what the noted artist hoped would be his greatest work, The Race Horses of America. Presented in book form, the work was to contain multiple volumes in which Troye intended to include "Portraits in oil of the stallions which have contributed most to produce the present superior turf horse of America, with a memoir giving full pedigrees, performances, and the most noted of their gets," as he described in an advertisement.
His work had long been engraved for turf magazine publications and stock books, but Troye planned this project as a valuable work of art, not to mention a useful reference. His method of production was to have his portraits photographed in sepia; he would hand-paint them in oil, and sign them. Known as "oiliographs," Troye produced several images on a small scale, approximately 9" x 12", which included Boston, Lexington, American Eclipse, and Henry. His desire was to produce them on a larger scale, approximately 22" x 24," and the racehorse Kentucky was chosen as a subject. Unfortunately, Troye failed to find enough subscribers to complete his project.
One of the two known examples of the larger depiction of Kentucky resides in the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg, Virginia. It was exhibited in a Troye exhibit at Georgetown College in 2003. The other example is offered here.
As noted by Alexander Mackay-Smith, Troye wrote, "Immediately after the Inaugural Stakes at Jerome Park, the services of Mr. Troye were secured to paint a number of portraits of Kentucky, the hero of that event." Leonard Jerome himself commissioned four portraits. One of these portraits of Kentucky would have been the basis for the work offered here; on the bottom part of this lot it is noted "Painted immediately after winning the Inaugural Stakes at Fordham. By E. Troye."
In the early 20th century, Harry Worcester Smith set about writing a book detailing the life and work of Troye. He uncovered more than 150 of Troye's paintings and recorded first-hand accounts of the artist's life. In his research Smith discovered The Race Horses of America project after meeting Troye's daughter. In Smith's notes he refers to a discovered Kentucky image: "There has recently been found in Lexington, Ky., a colored photograph of the picture of Kentucky, 22" x 24", with title, signed and dated, 'Troye, 1867.'" Worchester Smith's extensive research was continued by Alexander Mackay-Smith, who completed the book known today as The Race Horses of America, 1832-1872, Portraits and Other Paintings by Edward Troye.
The National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame inductee Kentucky was bred by John M. Clay, son of Henry Clay, at his Ashland Stud. After winning his initial start, the son of legendary Lexington was sold to John Hunter, the first chairman of The Jockey Club. Partners William R. Travers and George Osgood were brought in on the colt. After only one loss Kentucky went undefeated in his next 20 starts, including the inaugural running of the Travers Stakes. Leonard Jerome purchased Kentucky in 1866 for $40,000, an enormous sum at the time. Kentucky sired the champion filly Woodbine and several other notable stakes winners.