ALLEN, W.S. Vanderbilt
Pony Race for Polo Ponies
New York: Henry T. Thomas, 1893. Heliotype. Image: 16 1/8 x 19 5/8' Sheet: 17 3/8 x 22 1/2"
A fine plate depicting the fourth of six races run at the Hempstead Farms on October 19, 1893, from the great nineteenth-century publication 'Sporting Incidents'.
Introduced to America by the British settlers, horse racing has been a popular spectator sport since the mid-seventeenth century. "Pony-racing, particularly, has taken a firm hold upon the fancy of its followers, and, under the wise and sportsmanlike influence of the American Hunt and Pony Racing Association, the popularity of this form of sport has steadily increased." (Steele) Published during America's Gilded Age, 'Sporting Incidents' is a portfolio of elaborate illustrations depicting equine sporting events and accompanied by H. Milford Steele's eloquent descriptions of the history and status of these activities. It was primarily intended to glorify the increasingly fashionable sports of coaching, hunting, polo and steeple chasing. In its introduction, Colonel William Jay, a founding member of the Coaching Club, extolled the beneficial effect such activities had on the health, behaviour, and moral character of both participants and spectators and explained that the "aim of the artist in this book has been to reproduce such horses and carriages with such details of their equipment as may be useful as hints to those who need them, at the same time furnishing a standard of correctness in such matters."