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Illustration Art, New York, Frederick Elmiger, First Horse Race, Long Island, Vintage Watercolor, c. 1960s

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Frederick Elmiger (1890-1975)
First Horse Race
American: c. 1960s
Watercolor, gouache and/or acrylic on artist’s board
Signed lower right
21.25 x 29.5 inches, overall

This is from a series of scenes from New York history — search our site for Elmiger.

Original painting of the first horse race in the United States in 1665, from a series by the artist Frederick Elmiger imagining scenes from New York City’s early history. Newmarket, in present day Garden City, Long Island, was the first measured race course in America, established by the English governor Richard Nicholls less than a year after the English had won New Netherlands from the Dutch. The colorful scene depicts a group of dignitaries assembled on the lawn of the Newmarket race course as riders on horseback gather in the background; the prominent figure in a long red coat is probably intended by the artist to represent Nicholls.

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A hand-lettered label accompanies the painting; apparently these images were exhibited with the labels. It explains how the race came about:

In 1665 Governor Nicholls and the Counsel held court at what is now the town of Hempstead. A turf race-course was established there called Newmarket situated at Salisbury Plains. This eventually became Garden City, L.I. As a result of this meeting the sport of horse-racing began in this country.

Frederick Elmiger was an American illustrator. He frequently produced series on historical themes for Donald Art Company in Port Chester, New York, publishers of posters, lithographs, and artists’ prints. These included scenes from American history, Revolutionary war uniforms and vintage automobiles. At the time of his death he was living in Larchmont, New York.


DeWan, George. “Legacy: America’s First Racecourse.” Newsday. 2007.,0,5912509.story (30 April 2007).

Additional information


20th Century