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The Sporting Life: Henry Koehler in Britain

Kentucky-born painter Henry Koehler grew up around rarified equestrian circles in the South, but it wasn’t until he was a student at Yale that he developed the passion for riding and fox hunting that he would pursue for the rest of his life. His interest in equestrian field sports would become the main focus of his artistic output and the subject for which he is best-known. Koehler’s work was well-received in England where he showed consistently at London galleries, establishing a loyal following of collectors that included the Duke of Beaufort, the Dutchess of Cornwall, the Dutchess of Windsor, The Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales. Commissioned to paint portraits of several well-known English polo and hunter ponies, Koehler was welcomed into the inner sanctums of several royal country estates where he was able to capture the intimate world of horses, their jockeys and the boot rooms.

We are very pleased to have paintings and works on paper by Henry Koehler in our upcoming sale that were made in England for members of the Royal Family, as well as several paintings that depict scenes captured by Koehler while visiting on royal estates. In 1965, Koehler was commissioned by Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson, the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor, to paint a portrait of their pug Winoroo. In 1965, Koehler made preliminary sketches of the dog during a sitting at the Waldorf Towers, one of which is included in the sale. Koehler also painted a seated full-length portrait of the Dutchess in 1966, a charcoal sketch for the finished work is also included in the sale.

Koehler was the guest of HRH The Prince of Wales at Kensington Palace where he painted Fox Hunter’s Valet in 1987. The subject is Michael Fawcett, the valet to Prince Charles. At Highgrove House, the family residence of the Prince of Wales in Cornwall, Koehler painted Reflection and Foal, II which shows Prince Charles, arm in a sling, with his hunter and her foal, and Reflection on Foal, IV, both oil on paper made in 1990. On a trip to Highgrove House in 1992, Koehler painted Tools with Gumboots, Highgrove House. Another special lot in the sale is a note from Charles and Camilla to Henry and Audrey, thanking them for a wedding gift. Written in 2005 on stationary from Birkhall, the Prince’s estate on Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the note is very personal and full of humor and warmth.

Koehler’s love of the sporting life and English country life can be seen in many of the paintings included in this sale. Works like Royal Ascot Bits, Hunting Accessories, Hunting Kit, Pitchly Boots, Covering Kit, Coolmore and The Honours show intimate compositions of personal posessions and exemplify the affinity Koehler had for the British equestrian world. Henry Koehler painted what he loved about British sporting life, but he also collected works by other artists of similar subjects. Highlights from the collection include Newminster with Templeman Up, c. 1867, by Samuel Henry Alken (1810-1894) and The Race, attributed to Alken; Horse and Rider, an unattributed English School painting; and Harry Hall’s Portrait of the Jockey Ralph Bullock .

Time & Location

An Artist’s Life: The Collection of Henry Koehler
Wednesday, September 22 at 11am

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