This work has been fully ascribed to James Seymour for the last sixty years through Arthur Ackermann’s and Christie’s Auctioneers; however we believe it instead to be by a member of his studio.
Flying Childers is often cited as the first truly great racehorse in the history of thoroughbreds. Bred by Colonel Leonard Childers and foaled in 1715, Childers was sired by the Darley Arabian (one of the three foundation stallions) out of Betty Leedes. As a year- ling he was sold to William, 2nd Duke of Devonshire, whose blue and buff livery are worn by the jockey in this painting. Although lightly raced, he was unbeaten and was described as ‘the fleetest horse that ever ran at Newmarket’ – with the prefix Flying added as his reputation grew.
The Duke of Devonshire was given many a lucrative offer for the horse, including one reputedly of the horse’s weight in gold crowns, which was refused. He retired unbeaten and stood at Devonshire’s famous stud at the great estate of Chatsworth in Derbyshire, and was used there as a very successful private stal- lion. He died at Chatsworth in 1741, aged twenty-six.
Thomas Mellon Evans Collection of Sporting Art.
Christies, Important Sporting Art from the Thomas Mellon Evans Collection, 3 December 1998, New York. Lot 3.