LARSEN, Ole (American 1898-1984): Whirlaway; Portrait of the celebrated Triple Crown winning horse who won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and then the Belmont under jockey Eddie Arcaro, depicted in profile standing in a summer landscape, oil on canvas mounted illustration board or illustrator canvas board 18 inches high by 22 inches wide mounted on slightly larger board with unpainted side edges 18 inches high by 24 inches wide, 21 inches high by 27 inches wide by 2 1/4 inches deep framed, signed and dated Ole Larsen 1941 lower right. Original installed mid century limed wood frame with linen liner.
Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist at his studio by the current owner when she resided in the Chicago area many decades ago, who has since retired in the greater Sarasota Florida area.
Ole Larsen was a Michigan born animal artist and illustrator who studied in Chicago and New York and was widely known for his equestrian and canine portraits for dogs and horses. He was a member of the Society of Animal Artists, exhibited widely and he is in the collection of the Lexington Kentucky Saddle Horse Museum at the Hall of Fame. According to an online biography in the AskArt data base summated by E. P. Bentley from which the above was excerpted.
Whirlaway (born 1938, died 1953) was an American chestnut Thoroughbred sired by Blenheim II out of Dustwhirl and bred at the famous Columet farm in Lexington KY. Whirlaway won the Triple Crown in 1941, the year this portrait was painted. He was horse of the year in 1941 and unlike Triple Crown winner Secretariat he ran the following year and again was named ‘Horse of the Year’. Whirlaway went to stud in 1944 and sired several champions including Whirl Some before retiring to France after European breeding. He was elected a member of the National Hall of Fame and is considered one of the 30 greatest horses of all time. Whirlaway was also nick named “Mr. Longtail” because of his owner’s strategy that untrimmed tails deterred pursuing horses from passing when their noises were tickled by the trailing hair. Biographical information compiled from several online sources.
Condition: As discovered in the collection, surface varnish and some cloudy accumulations toward the edges that we did not attempt to clean, paint itself appears very sound with craquelure that are not visible. There are some light narrow lines of pigment rubbing along where the work was framed that are no visible when installed in the frame. There are two tack holes at the upper edge, also out of the framed are. Frame is structurally sound with scattered light wear and some linen liner staining.
NOTE: This is a spectacular painting with deftly handled light lyrical impasto and warm subtle tonalities that will emerge after a good surface cleaning, a light scattered minor in painting along with a suggested reframing in an exhibition grade salon style frame.
A phenomenally important Museum Grade Sporting Painting!