This was the eighth meeting between the English and American polo teams for the Westchester Cup, founded in 1876. The English won the cup in 1914 before competition was halted due to the War. By the end of the war the Americans were eager to bring the cup back to the United States, but a delay was necessary to give England time to recover from the conflict. By 1921 both sides were ready to compete for the first time in seven years.
The American team: Louis A. Stoddard, Thomas Hitchcock, Jr., J. Watson Webb, and Devereux Milburn The English team: Maj. V. N. Lockett, Capt. Lord Wodehouse, Maj. F. W. Barrett, and Lt. Col. H. A. Tomkinson.
The match was to be a best of three series, hosted by the Hurlingham Club, with King George V and Queen Mary in attendance. The first match on June 18, was won by the Americans 11-4, and they continued that form to win the second match on June 22nd by 10-6, thus winning the Cup outright.
The victory returned the Westchester Cup to America, and the many Americans who traveled to England to view the match celebrated the victory with gusto breaking out into an impromptu conga line on the field to celebrate. The Westchester Cup would stay in American hands until 1997.
This drawing was owned and most likely commissioned by Lord Wodehouse, who played in the fixture on the English team. Lionel Edwards has denoted it as a ‘general view of the ground’, and this perhaps points to the work being a pre-sketch for a larger work for Lord Wodehouse in order to ascertain what the exact chosen scene would be.
Lord John Wodehouse attended Eton and Cambridge before becoming a Member of Parliament for Mid-Norfolk at the age of 22, the youngest of that intake making him the ‘baby of the house’. He served in the First World War winning a Military Cross, but also losing two of his brothers - before serving under Winston Churchill in the early 1920’s. He began his polo career at Cambridge University and became a champion polo player, winning a gold medal for polo in the 1920 Olympics (as well as a silver medal in the 1908 Olympics). Sadly he was killed in April 1941 in the Blitz during the Second World War, in a bomb blast to Jermyn Street, St James’s, London.
Provenance: Collection of Lord Wodehouse. By descent to his son John Kimberley.