The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has long been renowned for its fine collection of sporting art. Owing to Paul Mellon’s interest in this genre, the VMFA’s collection comprises not only British but also American and French works. With Country Pursuits: Sporting Art from the Mellon Collections in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Malcolm Cormack provides a consideration of these three national traditions, combined for the first time in one book. Presenting an in-depth survey of sporting art that is supported by catalog-style entries and corresponding color reproductions, this lavish coffeetable book also represents the work of each nationality in its own section.
Containing animal studies and scenes of horse racing, foxhunting and coursing, shooting and fishing, coaching and carriages, and other country pursuits, by artists such as George Stubbs, John Wooton, Sir Alfred J. Munnings, Alfred de Dreux, and George Catlin, this volume also offers a major introductory essay in which the author addresses the definition of sporting art with a particular emphasis on British artists in the context of prevailing artistic trends. Destroying the myth that only a coarse class of country squires collected sporting pictures, a separate section on British patronage describes the social and political context of sporting art.
Including biographies of the artists found in the Mellon collections and an index, Country Pursuits is a truly handsome collection for the sporting art enthusiast.