2020 Fine Sporting Art, American Paintings, and Sculpture
18| Godfrey Douglas Giles (British, 1857-1941)
Captain Machall Training His String, Devil’s Dyke, Newmarket
Signed, dated 1896
Oil on board, 20" x 24"
$8000. - $10000.
Signed, dated 1896
Devil?s Dyke, also known as ?Devil?s Ditch? or simply ?The Ditch?, is a seven-mile-long embankment dating back to Anglo-Saxon times and is believed to be around 1,500 years old. It is thought that this earthwork was constructed as a form of defense and partly to control trade and movement. The Ditch cuts between Newmarket's two famous courses ? the Rowley Mile and the July Course. The July Course runs parallel with the Ditch, and on race days people standing on the embankment can view the race and packed grandstands on the other side of the course. The composition features four well-known personalities of the turf from the 1890s: Captain James Octavius Machell, Lillie Langtry, James Jewitt, and Tommy Loates. Machell and Langtry, the famed actress and socialite, are positioned on the far left with the grandstand at Newmarket in the background; jockey Loates is saddled in the foreground of the composition; and trainer Jewitt can be seen astride a gray in the background. Machell was a legendary fixture on the Newmarket racing scene, having served as racing manager to a host of famous owners, for whom he won 11 classic races, including the British Triple Crown with the famous racehorse Isinglass for Harry McCalmont. Langtry, known as ?The Jersey Lily,? was known to have had relationships with several noblemen, including the Prince of Wales, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and Prince Louis of Battenberg. In 1881, Langtry turned to the stage on the advice of her close friend Oscar Wilde, and what started as a way to make some much-needed money blossomed into a lengthy career that spanned several decades and took the actress on several tours of the United States. Langtry became interested in racehorses through her relationship with George Alexander Baird and owned several winners that raced under the pseudonym ?Mr. Jersey? (women were not allowed to own horses at the time). In the early 1890s, Langtry moved to Royal Lodge in Kentford, near Newmarket, making her close neighbors to Machell, who acted as a mentor to Langtry in all matters of the turf.
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