Rare picture set to be auctioned

The Scarborough Steeple Chase
The Scarborough Steeple Chase
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A RARE 160-year-old picture of the 1851 Scarborough Steeple Chase is now set to fetch up to £800 at an auction next week.

The 15in by 19in hand-coloured aquatint print is a copy of the original painting by John Sawdon Harland,

He was the artist-farmer son of Scarborough physician Dr William Harland, and the younger brother of Scarborough-born Sir Edward Harland, who in 1861, 10 years after this picture was produced, co-founded the world-famous Belfast shipbuilding firm, Harland and Wolff, which later built the Titanic.

John Sawdon Harland can be seen in the centre of the picture chasing his horse, Arab Chief, in a dramatic moment in the race after the snaffle rein on Harland’s horse snapped and threw him to the ground.

Harland recovered and finished 7th in the 14-minute race which took place on November 4 1851, near the High Road to Seamer by Stoney Haggs, near Racecourse Road.

Thirteen people took part in the race and they were all farmers or farmers’ sons and all tenants of the wealthy Yorkshire landowner, Lord Londesborough, after whom the Londesborough Arms in Seamer and Londesborough Road in Scarborough are said to have been named.

Lord Londesborough, who was 46 at the time, presented a silver cup to the winner of the race, George Hopper, who rode his horse, Agitation, to victory.

After the race a dinner for 120 people took place at Scarborough Town Hall.

Lord Londesborough inherited “the enormous wealth” of his uncle, banker and MP William Denison and acquired estates in Yorkshire at Selby, Londesborough, near Market Weighton, and Grimston Park, near Tadcaster. Altogether he owned more than 60,000 acres, producing an income of £100,000 a year, making him one of Yorkshire’s richest landowners.

His great-grandchildren included the writers Sir Osbert Sitwell, Dame Edith Sitwell and Sir Sacheverell Sitwell. Dame Edith and Sir Sacheverell were both born in Scarborough.

John Sawdon Harland, who took part in the 1851 Scarborough Steeple Chase and immortalised the event with a vivid picture, lived with his father, Dr William Harland, sister Mary, and brothers Albert and Henry, at Newborough Street, Scarborough.

According to the 1851 Census, they employed five live-in servants, Whitby-born Martha Jackson, 28, Rustall-born Mary Whind, 20, Throxenby-born Alice Rainton, 20, Sessay-born groom George Dale, 45, and the wonderfully-named Scarborough-born Huntress Ritson, 14.

Eleven years after taking part in the Scarborough Steeple Chase, John Sawdon Harland was dead. He emigrated to New Zealand, where he died in mysterious circumstances in 1862 at the age of 33.

Now, nearly 150 years after his death, his Scarborough racing picture is up for sale and is expected to fetch between £600 and £800 at Dreweatts at Donnington Priory, near Newbury, Berkshire, next Wednesday.

It is among 200 equestrian and sporting prints put up for sale by Chicago banker Norman R. Bobins.