Manuel and Ben Tending to Tobacconist (Primary Title)
Tobacconist (Former Title)
Portrait of the Racehorse 'Tobacconist' (Alternate Title)
The two men in this painting were enslaved on John Minor Botts’s Half Sink plantation on the Chickahominy River near Richmond. They both regard the viewer directly, as though they have been interrupted in their work. Because Troye considered his earlier portraits of horses with mounted riders to be unsuccessful compositions, he chose to represent Ben, the jockey, holding the horse’s reigns. The man who prepares to saddle the horse is a trainer named Manuel.
Virginia lawyer and politician John Minor Botts likely commissioned this painting to commemorate the victory of his four-year-old bay colt, Tobacconist, in the Newmarket Plate. The race was run at the Newmarket Racecourse near Petersburg on October 12, 1833, and the painting dates from November of that year. It is one of four known works that Botts commissioned from Troye.
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