Charles Hunt after F. C. Turner
Leamington Grand Steeple Chase, 1837
33.5 x 25 inches
A superb set of 4 aquatints in full original hand colour; engraved by Charles Hunt after Francis Calcraft Turner and published in London by Thomas McLean, 1837.
With no grandstand, no fancy carriages and very few ladies present these wonderful prints have a very different feel to the much smarter races held at Epsom, Ascot and York. They represent an altogether more haphazard and unregulated form of racing akin to a modern day point-to-point. The first organized race held in Leamington dates from 1834 but despite its muddled start it very quickly gained momentum and popularity. The Leamington Chronicle writes amusingly about this inaugural race which sounds chaotic but tremendous fun: "Got up only by a few spirited individuals for the gratification of such of the country folk who keep high holiday on Easter Monday". There were, apparently, beer tents, roulette tables and cock pits, all adding to the ambience. Drunken shenanigans and corrupt regulations ensured that it was a rowdy event but by the 1840s it had become such a popular race that the gentry and even the aristocracy were getting involved. Looking at the crowds the sense of excitement is palpable and in the final plate we see Mr. Mason romping home on Jerry ahead of Captain Beecher on Vivian.£4600
Set of 4