Carroll K. Bassett(American, 1905-1972)
Bassett was born in 1906 in Summit, NJ (although one source places his birth date in 1907). He began his association with horses at an early age, first as a foxhunter and later as a high goal polo player. Among his first known sculptures, cast in bronze, were portraits of Hotspur II and Emerald Isle III, in 1923. Ideas for his work came largely from his association with the equestrian community in Camden, South Carolina, where he spent time at his parent’s winter residence. He studied at Williams College in Williamstown, MA, and the Art Students League of New York in New York City, and received advice from Herbert Haseltine (qv). He is thought to have sculpted only about fifteen models, depicting such subjects as game cocks, mares and foals, polo players,
racehorses with jockeys, and horse portraits. His sculpture was modeled mostly for himself and his friends rather than for sale. When he did work on commission, he generally charged only enough to cover the foundry bill, and did very little sculpture after 1930. His career as an amateur steeplechase jockey and trainer began in the late 1920s. He became the National Steeplechase and Hunt Association (now the National Steeplechase Association) leading trainer in 1934. He rode for Marion du Pont Scott’s
stable, Montpelier, in Orange, VA, and Camden, SC. He was the jockey for all of the victories in the United States of Battleship, a son of Man-o-War, winner of the 1938 English Grand National, and one of Montpelier’s most celebrated horses. In 1955 W. Smithson Broadhead (qv) painted Battleship for Mrs. Scott; the portrait now is in the collection of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, NY. Bassett visited the Genesee Valley in New York several times, riding to hounds and in steeplechases. After his retirement as a amateur jockey, he continued to train for Montpelier for many years. During this time, he developed an interest in fighting chickens, and enthusiastically bred, trained, and fought game cocks.
The Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County in Camden, South Carolina, which features a gallery named in Bassett’s honor, has a collection of his work.