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Sporting Art, Horses, John Sartorius, Hambletonian, Antique Aquatint Print, c. 1799


John Nost Sartorius (1759-1828) (after)
John Whessell (c.1760-after1797) (engraver)
John Haris, London: November 1, 1799
Hand-colored aquatint
15.75 x 19 inches

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Equestrian portrait of the British racehorse Hambletonian, attended by a jockey and another man who holds him by the reins. An extensive text in the lower margin gives a history of the horse, including races, statistics and past owners. It begins, “This Horse was bread by Mr. Hutchinson of Skipton near York, was got by King Fergus out of ye Grey Highflyer Mare by Highflyer, the Gr. Nominia by Matchem,” and ends by noting “he never was beat but once when running, at the York, Aug[us]t Meeting 1797, he ran out of ye Course when he was winning easy. He is now in Training at Richmond Yorkshire.”

Portraits of horses were very popular in Britain in the 18th and 19th Centuries. An artist would be commissioned to paint a portrait of an aristocratic rider with his foxhunting or race horse, sometimes accompanied by a jockey and/or horse handler. Painters such as John Nost Sartorius, John Herring, and George Stubbs were kept busy meeting this demand. In addition to horse portraits, many artists of the period, notably Henry Alken, painted action horse scenes, sometimes comical, such as the hunt or steeple chase races. Many of these horse paintings were then issued as prints.

John N. Sartorius was from a British family of sporting artists that included his father, Francis, and his son, J.F. John mostly drew and painted horses, dogs and hunting scenes, many of which were engraved for the print trade. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1781 to 1824. His horse paintings are in the collections of the Tate Gallery in London, the British Government Art Collection, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, among others.

John Whessell was an English engraver working in London at the end of the 18th century. He engraved after Serres, Stothard, Singleton, Sartorius and Gainsborough, among others.

John Haris was a London map and printseller, active from 1771 to 1812.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall toning, wear, soiling, soft creases, cockling. Few minor abrasions neatly restored. Margins short, as is typical with separately issued sporting prints, but ample. Few short marginal tears and chips, one extending into text area in lower margin, professionally restored as laid on supporting Japanese paper.


Maxted, Ian. “The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. U.K.: Devon Library and Information Services. 20 June 2001. (Haris) (25 January 2005).

Williamson, George C., ed. Bryan ‘s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. London: G. Bell and Sons: 1930. Vol. 5, p. 24 (Sartorius) Vol. 5, p. 359 (Whessell).

Additional information


18th Century