2020 Fine Sporting Art, American Paintings, and Sculpture

25| Nicola Marschall

Daniel Swigert

Signed & dated 1879

Oil on canvas, 30" x 25"

$4000. - $6000.

Signed & dated 1879

Born into a prominent Frankfort, Kentucky, family Daniel Swigert had, by the age of 24, purchased from his father and uncle a parcel of land on the Kentucky River called ?Buffalo Trace? and an early distillery warehouse in the area of Lee?s Town. Swigert set about improving the property in a way that was described by historian D. G. Churchill as a ?new type of whiskey making facility, designed for volume output, more efficient production and ease of marketing? and a ?prototype of the full time, large scale industrial distillery which would dominate the field in the post civil war era.? It was the first distillery in Kentucky to use steam power. Swigert built a facility suitable for aging barrels, which had only been widely adopted recently to the time. Swigert set about selling the distillery, most likely because in the antebellum years distilling was not the profitable enterprise it would become after the war. Passing through several hands before being purchased by E. H. Taylor, that distillery is today Buffalo Trace. In 1862 Swigert was hired by R. A. Alexander as the manager of Woodburn Farm, and the ensuing years would prove to be highly eventful. In 1864 several of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan?s men captured several Woodburn horses that had been sent to Keene Richards of Georgetown to be bred. Swigert went to Georgetown to bring home the rest of the Woodburn mares. While he was gone, Morgan?s men took Bay Flower and Mattie Gross from Woodburn. Swigert pursued the men to Cynthiana and got the horses back from Morgan, leaving town just in time, before the Battle of Cynthiana. In February 1865, Woodburn was struck again by Confederate raiders William Quantrill and Sue Mundy. As related by Alexander in a letter, Swigert had moved into the house after the first raids, but this time under threat from Quantrill had to lay down his arms as the Confederates stole the horses. Despite the flurry of war activity interfering with racing, Woodburn dominated the American turf from the period of 1865 to 1880, in large part due to Swigert. As W. S. Vosburgh notes in Racing in America, there were 78 ?celebrated race horses? in this period, 34 of these (44%) were bred at Woodburn. In 1869 Swigert left Woodburn and purchased a nearby farm, Stockwood, which he owned until 1881. With his brother-in-law, Lucas Brodhead, taking over as manager of Woodburn, Swigert was still very much involved. During this period he owned Belmont winners Kingfisher and Springbok and the 1877 Kentucky Derby winner Baden-Baden, and bred the great Hindoo. It was also then that he bought a yearling he named Spendthrift, supposedly for his wife?s spending habits in New York City. In 1881 Swigert bought Preakness Stud from Milton Sanford and renamed the farm Elmendorf, the name still in use today. It was here he bred Salvator and Firenze, along with Kentucky Derby winners Ben Ali and Apollo, and firmly established himself as one of the best horsemen in the post-war era in America. Swigert was the great-grandfather of Leslie Combs II, founder of Spendthrift Farm, named for Swigert?s horse. The breeder of three Kentucky Derby winners, Swigert was also an original board member of Churchill Downs. This work is still in the original period frame. An identical one is on Marschall?s portrait of George W. Johnson in the Georgetown & Scott County Museum, Georgetown, KY.

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