Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Illustration Friday: E IS FOR...

my favorite thing in the world - the elegant Equine; Equus caballus.

I've only gotten through the first 350 posts or so, but I still can't believe my fellow horse lovers have not gotten this one...
but since I have about a million illustrations of horses and I wanted to something a little more special I dug a little deeper, which in turn led me to ECLIPSE: the famous EIGHTEENTH century racehorse in ENGLAND, winning his first face, of 21 undefeated starts, at EPSOM.


This is only a first draft sketch of the original idea. I'd like to fill it out and finish it in color. But I'm pretty happy with the results so far - happy that I got this far! Didn't think I was going to make it!!


So, if by chance you have any interest at all, here's a little back ground on Eclipse:

One of the greatest racehorses in history, Eigthy percent of modern thoroughbred racehorses have Eclipse in their pedigrees. He had an almost freakish speed and ability, was unbeaten in his Entire racing career.

He was born on April 5th 1764, a day in which England experienced a total eclipse of the sun. Eclipse's history is surrounded by rumour, he is remembered as being boisterous and highly-strung. His best friend was a parrot who would squawk psalms and popular songs. Some stories relate that he was broken by a rough-rider and others that the only jockey able to ride him was John Oakley due to his habit of running with his nose to the floor. What is certain is that during his first race, the Epsom Derby in 1769, he easily outstripped his rivals despite Oakley fighting to keep him under control. Eclipse literally ran away with the £50 purse, causing his owner, Col. Dennis O'Kelly, to utter the famous remark 'Eclipse first, the rest nowhere'.

Eclipse ran in 21 races and won every single one without his jockey needing to resort to whips or spurs.

Success on the racecourse was followed by success at stud. Though never a leading sire himself, Eclipse came second every year between 1778 - 1788, the only time he was ever bested. Perhaps his most famous descendant was not a racehorse at all but his grandson, a charger by the name of Copenhagen who was the mount of the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

Eclipse died of colic in 1789, having sired 344 winners in his lifetime. He was important enough as a racehorse and a sire to warrant finding out as much about his body as possible. The most significant fact revealed, apart from the strength and harness of his bones, was the weight of his heart: 14.3 lb. The average Equine heart weighs 9 lb.

Eclipse's skeleton is owned by the Royal Veterinary College and can be seen at the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket. He is also remembered in the name of the Eclipse Stakes, which has been run since 1886 and the Eclipse Awards, the equivalent of the Oscars for the North American racing industry.

11 comments:

M. Spalding said...

Fantastic illustration. I love those old horse portraits... so much character. You've really captured the style that was the fashion of Eclipse's day. From his Stubbs portrait, it's clear this creature was stunningly beautiful. Hooray for horse artists!

Lee said...

this is great...nice detail and background story...

wonil said...

an amazing drawing for an amazing and very interesting, imagination provoking story. this one's dark. Eclipse racing alone with his nose down to the ground like crazy, against the eclipsed sun with the corona like some kind of an omen and the shadowed environment, it's thick and dense. i love it. you did it again, MB!

Tony Sarrecchia said...

Great detail, wonderful illustration.

carla said...

Fascinating story! My theory about you being the first (and perhgaps only) person to post an equine illustration is that you do such an amazing job with those creatures that the rest of us realize it's pointless to try. Seriously - your work continues to amaze and inspire me. I actually like this a lot in b & w - it has a rougher look that works with the movement of the horse. It's beautiful:>

Friederike! said...

wonderful illustration and story!

steve said...

Excellent drawing (and accompanying story)! Hope to see more.

Sea Angel said...

The image is good, the story is great. Not only a champion, he was a horse with the biggest heart.

Vicki Gausden said...

I've always loved the story of Eclipse. I would have drawn a horse but Edinburgh just popped into my head first and I couldn't ignore it. Great illo and lovely antiquated feel to it.

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