SARATOGA SPRINGS — Nine paintings from the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s collection of artwork by Richard Stone Reeves will be on display in the Museum’s Link Gallery beginning Wednesday, March 9. The Paintings of Richard Stone Reeves will be exhibited through 2022.
Portraits of Hall of Fame members Cicada, Exceller, Gallorette, Ruffian, Susan’s Girl, and Sword Dancer will be featured. The exhibit also includes portraits of champion One Count and Brookmeade Stable standout Sailor. The portrait of One Count, gifted to the Museum by the iconic artist, was the first of 20 paintings by Reeves acquired by the Museum.
A descendant of 19th century portrait artist Thomas Sully on his father’s side, Reeves (1919—2005) grew up around the Standardbreds raised by his mother’s family on Long Island and began to sketch the world around him as soon as he could pick up a pencil.
On Sept. 16, 1933, Reeves attended Futurity Day at Belmont Park, a six-race card featuring three major stakes races: the Grand National (won by Best Play), the Futurity (won by Singing Wood), and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (in which Dark Secret defeated Hall of Famer Equipoise). This was the defining moment in the 13-year-old’s life that made Reeves a lifelong fan of racing.
Reeves pursued a career in the arts and studied at the College of Fine Arts at Syracuse University. Just a few months after graduation, Pearl Harbor Day prompted his enlistment in the U.S. Navy. Reeves was sent to China in early 1944 for a top-secret intelligence mission, and once again, the artist sketched and painted the scenes around him. His work caught the attention of Lt. Commander Robert Johnson, who in his civilian life was the president of Roosevelt Raceway harness track. Reeves shared his career aspiration of becoming a horse painter, and Johnson encouraged Reeves to reconnect with him after the war. Reeves took him up on his offer and paid a visit to Johnson upon his return to the States with a freshly painted portrait of Hambletonian winner Titan Hanover in hand. He soon received his first commissions to paint five more trotters for the track.
The Thoroughbred commissions soon followed the Standardbred ones, and Reeves became one of the most prolific equine painters of the 20th century. His career spanned nearly seven decades and resulted in portraits of the greatest racehorses of the United States, England, Ireland, Canada, France, Argentina, Venezuela, Italy, and South Africa.
This exhibition is part of an ongoing Link Gallery series that highlights the sporting artists represented in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. The Paintings of Richard Stone Reeves is the third exhibit in this series, following The Paintings of W. Smithson Broadhead and The Paintings of Martin Stainforth. For more information about the Museum, including special events and program offerings, please call (518) 584-0400 or visit their website at www.racingmuseum.org.