Hidden Gems

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Record 4/10
Copyright Marlborough Museum - Marlborough Historical Society Inc
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Collection MHS (unaccessioned) Art
Date 1858
Description Joseph Fowles, Zoe, 1858, oil on artist board. Source unknown

Henry Redwood established New Zealand's first thoroughbred stud at Waimea near Nelson. Among the horses he imported from Australia in 1852 were the stallion Sir Hercules, his dam Flora McIvor, and their foals Flora and Zoe. The chestnut Zoe won numerous races in Nelson and Wairau, and in 1858 Henry sent her and another horse Zingara to Australia to be trained up for Sydney's prestigious Homebush Races. Three months later Henry and his father, also Henry, watched Zoe win the Australian Jockey Club Handicap and Metropolitan Handicap and come second in the City Plate. They promptly commissioned Sydney's leading horse painter Joseph Fowles to paint the horses' portraits.

Fowles followed the English painting convention, made popular by John Frederick Herring, of posing the lean horse in profile on impossibly thin legs, her pert face and bright eye turned to look at us.

The Redwoods recouped some of the expense involved by selling the two horses for a thousand pounds and a dinner was held in their honour where they were thanked for returning some of Australia's bloodstock. Zoe continued to win races in Australia and also left a legacy as a brood mare. She died in Tasmania. Fowles, who died in 1878, painted several versions of Zoe in her stable, but this is the original painting.

Young Henry Redwood continued to breed winners earning the title 'father of the New Zealand Turf'. In 1863 he moved to Marlborough, re-established his stables and began Marlborough's first commercial flour mill at Spring Creek, on the site of the present-day Holiday Park. For the next 40 years he talked horses with a succession of Australasian racing journalists who enjoyed his hospitality and sitting room adorned with paintings of his winning racehorses.

Label for Hidden Gems exhibition July to September 2014 written by Jane Vial, Guest Curator.
Year Range from 1858
Object ID 0000.800.0886
Object Name Painting
Other # 0832
People Redwood, Henry (Junior)
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Last modified on: November 16, 2015