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Sporting Art, Horses, Polo Match, John Alexander Harrington Bird, Antique Watercolor, c. 1900


John Alexander Harrington Bird (1846-1936)
British: c. 1890-1920
Watercolor on board
Signed lower right “Harrington Bird”
9.75 x 13.75 inches
Provenance: Arthur Ackermann & Son, New York

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Watercolor painting of four polo players in the midst of intense competition on grassy turf with trees in the background. The action centers on a player in a red vest and cap galloping toward the viewer, his mallet raised and ready to strike the ball. The other player from his team and two from the opposing team are in hot pursuit. Three of the horses are running so fast that their feet have left the ground, casting shadows below, the horse on the left kicking up clods of earth. The scene is rendered in a naturalistic style, with attention to accurate rendering of the horses’ musculature.

John Alexander Harrington Bird was a British sporting artist best known for depictions of horses, equestrian scenes, polo players, horse racing and hunting scenes in watercolor, pastels and oils. Some were exotic “Orientalist” scenes of horses with Arabian handlers. Bird was educated in London and studied at the Royal Academy. In 1875 he went to Montreal and served as Director of Art on the Board of School Commissions. In 1880, he joined the Royal Canadian Academy as an Associate Member and exhibited there. He returned to London in 1885, and remained there for the rest of his life. Between 1870 and 1893 he exhibited his work at the Royal Academy and at the Royal Society of British Artists on Suffolk Street in London. There were many prints published after his paintings. He signed his works Harrington Bird.

Accompanied by the original label that was affixed to the back of a previous frame from Arthur Ackermann & Son, Inc., New York, on which is typed the title, medium and artist’s name.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear, particular at the edges.


Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 1, p. 671.