TOD RAMOS (BRITISH, b. 1956)
The Winner’s Enclosure, Dancing Brave, 1986
Oil on canvas 71.1 x 91.4 cm / 28 x 36 in.
Provenance: Collection of General Accident Insurers (Perth, Scotland) Christie’s London, Sale 10504, Lot 75, 10th Dec 2014 Acquired from the above by the present owner
The painting: The Winner’s Enclosure was painted from real life at the 1986 2,000 Guineas, Newmarket. The winner, Dancing Brave (1983-1999) was a thoroughbred racehorse foaled in 1983, a bay stallion sired by Lyphard (1969-2005) out of Navajo Princess (b. 1974). As a yearling, he was purchased by Khalid Abdullah in Kentucky, USA, for $200,000 USD.
Dancing Brave, trained by Guy Harwood (b. 1939), ranks amongst Khalid Abdullah’s greatest race horses along with Enable (b. 2014), Frankel (b. 2008) and Arrogate (b. 2013), having won eight of his ten races between 1985-86.
In his third year, racing in 1986 and having won twice as a two-year old, Dancing Brave first won the Craven Stakes, a “Guineas Trial” at Newmarket, followed by the more important General Accident 2,000 Guineas itself with a time of 1min 40s, beating Green Desert by three lengths.
He went on to be the outstanding European racehorse of 1986, also winning the Eclipse Stakes, the King George VI, a first for Khalid Abdullah, Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Dancing Brave finished 1986 with an International Classifications rating of 141, a record high for any horse at the time.
In retirement, Dancing Brave was syndicated with a value of £14 million, and offered at an initial stud fee of £120,000. He went on to sire numerous winners, including Commander in Chief, and White Muzzle.
The painting was created at the event as a commission for the race sponsors General Accidents insurers, by whom the artist had been employed. Below the Newmarket racecourse backdrop, we see veteran rider Greville Starkey (1939-2010) in his predominant colours, atop Dancing Brave, with red saddle and race number 2.
The women in the mid-ground, wearing tartan, were event-representatives of General Accident. The fourth-place Sharood, ridden by William-Hunter Carson, is seen entering the enclosure with maroon top, white sleeves and black helmet. The gentleman in a mackintosh leaning over the railings to the left, has been identified by the artist as horse trainer Paul Webber.
Dancing Brave and rider Greville Starkey, wearing the identifiable bright green top with pink sash, pink helmet and white sleeves, winning the 1986 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
About Tod Ramos: “The Racehorse in 20th Century Art” by Claude Berry described Tod as “the convivial extrovert”, whilst Ken Howard RA describes him as “the most naturally talented painter I’ve ever met”. Attending The Royal Academy Schools as a postgraduate student, under the tutelage of Ruskin Spear, Robert Buhler and Leonard McComb, Tod is an eminent member of an artistic dynasty: generations on both sides of his family have distinguished themselves in the arts. Raised in an artistic environment, he is fortunate to have been introduced to most of the major artists of the British art scene, many of whom he counts among his friends.
He has taught and lectured on art at every level. As he is able to communicate his subject simply and clearly he has been called upon to participate in several television productions dedicated to the arts, most recently Simon Schama’s The Power of Art and Civilizations. As a master of all techniques in fine art he has a facility for conveying this knowledge with a rare ability to teach others clearly and without mystery so that they are able to develop their fundamental knowledge of painting techniques.
Believing that the foundation of all good painting, including contemporary art, is in classical techniques, Tod has a thorough knowledge of ancient and modern processes and history of art. Past students have distinguished themselves in a wide variety of fields from realism to apocalyptic modernism!
He has worked on several publications including The Art of Painting and Drawing, with the late Stan Smith. He has written on the etching technique of his Grandfather, Sir Henry Rushbury (Henry Rushbury, Prints; Catalogue Raisonné, Royal Academy Publications).
As a painter, he has a worldwide reputation and has exhibited on every continent. His source is life around him, his subjects are drawn directly from it.
Collection of General Accident Insurers (Perth, Scotland) Christie’s London, Sale 10504, Lot 75, 10th Dec 2014 Acquired from the above by the present owner
Tod Ramos has a worldwide reputation described as the “foremost painter of the horse.” He has taught and lectured in drawing and painting in all mediums at all levels for over 30 years.
Revered for his mastery of all techniques in fine art, Ramos’s The winner’s enclosure belongs to Sporting and wildlife art which has been around since the 18th century.
The winner’s enclosure is an intense, exhaustive painting, interpreter of a lived experience, that of its author, completely respecting all those components, such as horses, jockeys, public, landscape.
It is a painting rich in suggestion, thought and complexity. The exposed picture immortalizes the final moment of a horse race just ended. The eye is immediately captured by the jockey and his horse, which constitute the focal point of the painting: the red and white uniform stands out in the middle of the large brown spot that makes up the crowd.