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John Wootton (Snitterfield c. 1682-1764 London)
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John Wootton (Snitterfield c. 1682-1764 London)

Wanton, a bay racehorse with jockey up, at Newmarket

Details
John Wootton (Snitterfield c. 1682-1764 London)
Wanton, a bay racehorse with jockey up, at Newmarket
signed 'J. Wootton pinxit' and with inscription and date 'WANTON, _ He was got by Bay Bolton. Ano. 1719.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
40 x 50 in. (101.6 x 127 cm.)
in a fine carved and gilded frame
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 23 November 1966, lot 123 (£650 to Weston).
Special Notice

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Lot Essay

This fine equestrian portrait is set at Newmarket, then and now the capital of British racing, on the far side of the Devil's Ditch with the town in the distance and Warren Hill in the background. The four most prominent buildings are, from left to right, the King's Stables, St Mary's Church, the King's Stand and the Windmill.

The racehorse could be the successful horse owned by Lord Dorchester; also known as Bay Wanton, he is known to have run in a match against the Duke of Devonshire's Scar in 1712. If so, the inscription appears to be misleading as he could not have been a son of Bay Bolton, as the two horses were racing at the same time from around 1710. This is before proper records began at Newmarket with the fresh version of the Match Book in 1718. Sir Theodore Cook, writing in 1905, records a picture of this horse in the Durdans Collection, and a picture by Wootton of Wanton is listed in the Durdans inventory of 1929. The picture may therefore have been part of the celebrated collection of sporting pictures assembled by Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929), although no mention of such provenance was made at the time of the 1966 sale. Cook mentions two other horses called Wanton but both were from the mid-18th Century. Records of the 1720s are much more extensive and there does not appear to be mention of any credible candidate called Wanton, let alone one successful enough to the subject of such a fine portrait.

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