RICHARD STONE REEVES (American, 1919-2005)
    Gazala, 1967
    Oil on canvas
    32 x 38-1/4 inches (81.3 x 97.2 cm)
    Signed lower right: Richard Stone Reeves
    Titled and dated lower left: Gazala / M. Philipperon / 1967

    The artist;
    Nelson Bunker Hunt, Dallas, commissioned from the above, 1967;
    Auction of the collection of the above, Circle T Ranch, Westlake, Texas, 1990;
    Acquired by the present owner from the above.

    The present work depicts the prized champion broodmare of storied Texas billionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt, Gazala II, also known simply as Gazala. Beautifully rendered by celebrated horse portraitist Richard Stone Reeves, this composition exemplifies the stately and regal racehorse portraits for which the artist is best known. Gazala is shown with jockey up, with the backdrop of the Longchamp Racecourse and historic grounds.

    Known as one of the world's leading horse portraitists, Richard Stone Reeves was a descendant of prominent eighteenth-century American portraitist Thomas Sully. His mother raised standardbred horses, and the young Reeves was raised in Garden City on Long Island, near Belmont Park. In addition to painting horse portraits for Nelson Bunker Hunt, Reeves received commissions from a number of notable owners, including Paul Mellon, W. Averill Harriman, Allaire duPont, Aga Khan and Harry Guggenheim. Some of his famous subjects included race-winners Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Buckpasser and Spectacular Bid.

    The subject of the present work, Gazala, was the offspring of famed 1953 Kentucky Derby champion Dark Star. Under the ownership of Nelson Bunker Hunt, she earned renown as one of the world's premier broodmares of her time, producing eight International Stakes winning champions, and she was a darling of racing in France and England in her day.

    In 1967, under Hunt's ownership, Gazala became his first stake-winner, taking the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and then the Prix de Diane, and becoming Champion filly in France that year. The well-known race Prix Gazala, held at the famous Hippodrome de Saint-Cloud course, was named for her. Hunt would hold the record at the Prix de la Grotte with five wins over the course of a decade, Gazala having been his first.

    Nelson Bunker Hunt's legacy in thoroughbred horseracing and breeding was illustrious and extremely successful. Having bred 158 stakes winners and either bred or owned twenty-five champions, Hunt was bestowed the title of "legendary owner-breeder" by the United States National Thoroughbred Racing Association. In the 1950s, he amassed a small band of broodmares and in the 1960s raced some of their offspring in Europe. By the 1970s, Hunt's breeding program had become one of the largest and most productive in the world. Winner of the U.S. Eclipse Award for Outstanding Breeder in 1976, 1985, and 1987, he owned the 8,000-acre Bluegrass Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, and raced thoroughbreds in Europe and the U.S.

    Hunt's fortune suddenly collapsed after he and his brother tried but failed to corner the market in silver. The former oil and silver baron's bankruptcy forced him to liquidate his thoroughbred operations as well as a large portion of his personal possessions at one of the largest bankruptcy auctions in U.S. history, held at the Circle T Ranch in Westlake, Texas in 1990. The present work, Gazala, which was Hunt's cherished horse portrait that hung above his office desk, among other valuable works of art and collectibles, were brought to the auction block, generating massive publicity and bringing a large premium due to their prestigious and historic provenance.

    Additional horse portraits by Richard Stone Reeves are held in a vast number of private collections, as well as in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York.

    Condition Report*:

    Unlined canvas; slightly discolored varnish layer; there does not appear to be inpainting under UV exam Framed Dimensions 39 X 45.25 Inches

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    May, 2014
    10th Saturday
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