A Stable Jockey (Willis?) Holding Mazeppa for W. R. Johnson, Painted Late Spring 1835 (Primary Title)
Mazeppa held by Willis, the Stable Jockey for W. R. Johnson, Painted Late Spring 1835 (Former Title)

Edward Troye, American, 1808 - 1874 (Artist)

oil on canvas
Unframed: 21 1/2 × 27 in. (54.61 × 68.58 cm)
Framed: 28 1/2 × 34 1/4 in. (72.39 × 87 cm)
The young man depicted in this painting is thought to be a jockey named Willis, who was the stable jockey for Colonel W. R. Johnson. Although this identification has been questioned because the jockey wears red and Johnson’s racing colors were blue, other factors corroborate that the jockey is Willis. It has been documented that Johnson purchased Mazeppa, the bay horse represented here, from John and William H. Minge sometime before May 8, 1835, when the four-year-old horse won a sweepstakes at Virginia’s Newmarket Racecourse. Troye only returned to Virginia from Tennessee in the spring of 1835, so it is very unlikely that he would have completed the composition before this time. The white house and stables in the background most likely represent Oakland, Johnson’s plantation in Chesterfield County. The fact that John and William H. Minge commissioned a later portrait of Mazeppa furthermore suggests that the horse belonged to Johnson at the time that the original painting was made and that the young man is indeed Willis.
Paul Mellon Collection
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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