Henry Alken Sr.

Henry Alken Sr. (British, 1785–1851) 

START FOR THE DERBY, 1847 and COSSACK WINNING THE DERBY, 1847 (two works)

Oil on canvas, 15” x 21”  
Signed with the artist’s initials HA, dated 1847  
 
Provenance:  
Sotheby’s London, February 13, 1935   
with the National Sporting Gallery, c. 1965   
Private Collection, Virginia acquired from above   
Sotheby’s New York, December 5, 2008   
Private Collection, California to present   
 
Exhibited:   
Les Courses en France: Exposition Rétrospective, Château de Maisons-Latte, 1926   
Masterpieces of European and American Sporting Art: 19th and 20th Century, National Sporting Library, Middleburg, VA April, 2006 – March, 2007      
 
In 1847 Cossack won the Derby stakes at Epsom, ridden by Simeon “Sim” Templeman. At odds of 5-to-1, Cossack defeated Mr. Bouverie’s War Eagle (second), Lord Eglinton’s Van Tromp (third), and 29 other entries. With 33 entries it was the second-largest eld in Derby history. e famous 19th- century sporting journalist Henry Hall Dixon, who wrote under the pen name “The Druid,” reported: “Cossack was a delightful horse to ride, never pulling, and always as ready as a shot, when he was wanted. A strong pace was his delight, and he could make it for himself, and except when War Eagle headed him coming down the hill, he led in the Derby from The Warren to the winning-post.” (Dixon, Henry Hall. (e Druid), Scott and Sebright. London: Rogerson & Tuxford, 1862. Print.)  
 
Alken executed many “start” paintings of the 2000 Guineas, the Derby, the St. Leger Stakes, and other important races. However, the painting Start for the Derby, 1847 depicts the most horses and jockeys that ever appeared in any of Alken’s start scenes. When this impressive pair was sent to auction in 2008, it received a presale estimate of $150,000 to $250,000, the highest estimates ever to accompany a Henry Alken pair.  
 
“Cossack was a chestnut horse standing fteen hands high, with a neat blood-like head, very clean neck and shoulders, well drawn back, round body, with very large ribs, good back, and very muscular quarters, a little drooping towards the tail; capital thighs and arms, sharp from the hocks and knees to the ground not very large bone, but very wiry, clean sound legs and feet. He has no white beyond a few grey hairs in the forehead. Cossack was bred by Mr. R. C. Elwes, of Billing, Northampton, in 1844, by Hetman Plato, out of Joannina, by Priam. Castor.” (Cossack, Winner of the Derby, 1847,” Thee Sportsman, Jun. 1847, 14-15)  
 
The article The Derby Day printed in Spirit of the Times, 26 Jun. 1847, p. 204 reads:  
 
“Sir Gilbert Heathcote’s paddocks, where a great number of persons were permitted to scan their respective appearances, and, according to the opinion of the best judges, Cossack was decidedly the owner of the Flock, reflecting the highest credit upon his trainer…e horses were then led forth by their respective grooms to the front of the stand, where saddling commenced, a vast number of persons still remaining to take a last glimpse at their symmetrical frames. No sooner mounted than the jocks commenced their preparatory gallops, and, passing in review in front of the Grand Stand, finally cantered round to Tattenham Corner to the starting place…Those who possessed glasses quickly announced that Cossack was in the front, with Conyngham and War Eagle lying behind. “Cossack wins,” burst with exulting shouts from his backers. Shortly afterwards Conyngham was seen to give way, and War Eagle to take his place, Van Tromp well up. From thenceforth, however, the race lay between Cossack and War Eagle, but it was never doubtful as to the success of the former, although about the half distance War Eagle made a gallant effort to reach his opponent’s quarters. In this he did not succeed; Cossack gallantly maintained his vantage, passing the judge’s chair first by a clear length…The Great Event of the Day having thus been decided and all uncertainties having been removed, those who had not already indulged in the luxuries of well-stored baskets proceeded to seek “creature comfort”… judging from the consumption of champagne and other agreeable beverages, the love of racing was at least equaled by the love of good living. The health of Mr. Pedley, his horse, and his trainer were drunk with enthusiasm.”

 

Estimate: 60,000 - 80,000

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