Click main image below to view enlargements and captions.

Sporting Art, Horses, Racing, Fathers of the Turf, English Thoroughbred Stallions, Antique Print, 1915


John Axel Richard Beer (1883-1916)
Fathers of the Turf 1683-1822
Messrs. Fores, London: February 1, 1915
Color tinted and hand colored lithograph
18.75 x 30.25 inches, image
21.5 x 32.75 inches, overall

Large colorful print incorporating nine portraits of the major English thoroughbred stallions from the late 17th to early 19th centuries, interrelated by breeding. At the center of these “fathers of the turf” is the exceptional racehorse Eclipse, surrounded by eight stallions with related or shared lineage that contributed to the development of the breed. These include horses imported to England between 1683 and 1724, and Eclipse’s forebears and descendants. Except for one (Diomed), the portraits were taken by the artist, John Axel Richard Beer, from paintings or prints by other renowned equestrian artists, who are credited within each image, including J.N. Sartorius, J.F. Herring, George Stubbs and J. Wootton. Beer has cleverly used trees and architectural elements to meld the disparate portraits into a seamless whole, and changed some of the backgrounds of his source images, including the human figures, to suit his composition. This is demonstrated by comparing the central portrait of Eclipse with the George Stubbs version on our web site. The title is rendered as an inscription on a stone monument in the lower left.

Product description continues below.


John Axel Richard Beer was a Swedish draftsman active in England for most of his career. He spent five years during his teens in America, followed by a brief period in Russia, then established himself in London. There he executed a number of drawings for the quaterly magazine Fores’s Sporting Notes and Sketches and for the Illustrated Journal of Leipzig.

Fores was an English print publisher and printseller founded in London in 1783 by Samuel William Fores (1761-1838) and continued by his heirs for 200 years. S.W. Fores specialized in caricature prints. After his death in 1838, his sons George Thomas Fores (1806-1858) and Arthur Blücher Fores (1814-1883) took over as Messrs. Fores Sporting and Fine Print Repository, changing the focus to sporting subjects such as riding, hunting, racing and coaching. Messrs. Fores published works by the foremost British horse and equestrian artists of the day, including Alken, Pollard, Sartorius and J.F. Herring, Sr. They also published Fores’s Sporting Notes and Sketches, a quarterly magazine. Descendants of George Thomas Fores continued to run the company until well into the 20th century. The remaining stock was acquired in the early 21st century by Stephen Ling of Brackley, Northamptonshire.

Captions beneath horse portraits, clockwise from upper left: “The Godolphin Barb (Imported 1724); The Byerley Turk (Imported 1683); The Darley Arabian (Imported 1702); King Fergus (1775) by Eclipse; Camel (1822) Gt Gt Gdson of Eclipse; Diomed (1777) Gdson of King Herod and Gt Gdson of the Godolphin Barb, Winner of the first Derby Stakes at Epson & Father of the American Turf; Tramp (1810) Gt Gdson of Eclipse; and King Herod (1758) Gt Gt Gdson of The Byerley Turk.” Center caption: “Eclipse (1764) Gt Gt Grandson of the Darley Arabian and Gt Gdson of the Godolphin Barb.”

Full publication information: “Published February 1st 1915 by Messrs. Fores, 41, Piccadilly, London.


Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 1, p. 512.

“Race Horses — Horse Races.” Westfälisches Pferdemuseum 2012. (15 October 2013).

“S.W. Fores (biographical details).” The British Museum. (15 October 2013).