Edward Hodges Baily (1788-1867)
The noted sculptor and Royal Academician Edward Hodges Baily originated from Bristol. He left his home town in 1807 to work for the leading London sculptor and designer, John Flaxman. He studied with, and served under, Flaxman at the royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge and Rundell. He later became chief designer for Storr and Mortimer and then Hunt and Roskell. (C. Oman, 'A Problem of Artistic Responsibility: The Firm of Rundell, Bridge & Rundell', Apollo, January, 1966, p. 180). Baily designed a number of the finest race prizes of the 19th century including several Doncaster Cups during the 1840s. Although known in the silver world as an important designer it is Edward Hodges Baily's work as a sculptor for which he is best remembered. Indeed, his greatest work is perhaps the figure of Nelson which surmounts Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square. Among a large number of important surviving works are some of the sculptures on Marble Arch, futher examples on the exterior of Buckingham Palace; the figure of the Duke of York in Waterloo Place and a number of monuments in St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
Carlton and Hamilton McCarthy (fl.1839-1866)
The MacCarthy brothers were born in Scotland and produced a great number of collaborative works. They specialized in animal sculpture and are recorded as having worked with Hodges Baily on a number of occasions including Baily's model of The Duke of Wellington on his charger which was incidentally also raced in 1843 Doncaster Cup. It would appear for the list of their exhibited works in Robert Gunnis' Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, London, 1953, 32-33, 247, that they almost exclusively modelled, horses, deer and dogs.
Lord George Bentinck (1802-1848)
He was the second son of William, 5th Duke of Portland (1768-1854). He never received a formal education, instead being tutored at home. He showed great prowess as a sportsman in the fields of cricket, rowing, shooting and hunting. His fiery temper and short fuse meant he was unsuited to military life and his career in the army was a short one. He entered politics in 1822 as secretary to his uncle George Canning (1770-1827) who greatly shaped his political outlook. He strongly opposed the repeal of the Corn Laws, and supported Disraeli, with whom he formed a strong friendship, both politically and financially. It was partly due to his unpopular support for Jewish emancipation that the left politics in 1848. Although his Dictionary of National Biography entry describes his political career as having 'no parallel in Britsh history,' he was best known in popular circles as a prodigious race horse owner or as the D.N.B. honours him 'a leviathan of the turf.'
He was one of the greatest race horse owners of the 19th century with at one time had over 200 horses in training at Goodwood, the estate of his great friend the Duke of Richmond, to whom he presented the present lot. In his best year, 1845, he had 58 winners in 195 races. He was not only a great owner of race horses but also a great innovator. He was one the first owners to 'van' his horses to the race meets. This ensured they arrived fresh and not tired by the long distances walked by the other runners. Although he was a man of strong principals he was known to issue misleading statements about the health of his horse to gain longer odds. His lack of an inherited fortune meant he relied heavily on his winnings to finance his racing.
He was deeply involved in the development of the Goodwood races and the remodelling of the course. He also helped spearhead the codification of the sport supporting the numbering of horses, timed starts and other reforms which were covered in the racing rules published in 1844. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Bentinck Benevolent Fund for children and widows of trainers and jockeys. He died young from a heart attack which struck whilst he was walking from his father's seat Welbeck Abbey to that of Lord Manvers, Thoresby Hall, some five miles away. Although he was said to have had an enduring and requited passion for the wife of his great friend the Duke of Richmond he died having never married.
The Goodwood Cup, 1843
The Goodwood or Stewards' Cup was raced for on the Thursday of the Goodwood race week. The report of the race in the Illustrated London News records that Lord George's four year old Yorkshire Lady came first ridden by his jockey Kitchener. The Duke of Richmond's Baloena came second and African third. The article notes that Lord George's jockey 'known at Ascot two years ago as Tiny, whose weight exclusive of saddle, &c., did not exceed 3st 7lb.'
The subject matter for the sculptural group conceived by Edward Hodges Baily was derived from Lord Byron's narrative poem Mazzepa which had been published in 1819 to great critical acclaim. In the poem the Ukrainian Ivan Mazzepa (1639-1709) is tied naked to the back of a wild horse and sent into the wilderness as punishment for entering into an affair with the wife of a count at the court of the Polish King John II Casimir Vasa. Mazeppa was an historical figure although there is no surviving evidence to support the legend, which was in circulation by the mid 18th century when it was referred to by Voltaire in his work on the King of Sweden, Charles XII, published in 1731. The poem inspired many art works including paintings by the French artists Delacroix, Géricault and Vernet and in England numerous snuffboxes and Staffordshire figures were produced.