About the dealer

About the object

William Shaw FSA 1737-1773


A liveried groom with a feeding-tray calling the chestnut horse “Piggy” in a wooded landscape


Oil painting on canvas . 35 1/2 x 44 inches


Indistictly signed lower right, and inscribed with the name of the horse (nb. The signature had at some point been deliberately altered to read “J(ohn) N(ost) Sartorius” - presumably in the 1920's when paintings by that artist were fetching notably high prices. The bogus alterations wee removed when the paining was cleaned by us in 2018

William Shaw was a sporting painter whose work was influenced by James Seymour and, to a lesser extent, JohnWootton. From 1767 e maintained a studio in Mortimer Street, London, said to have been sufficiently  large to accommodate a horse – his usual subject matter. He was extensively patronised by some of the most important Grandees of the Turf, including the Duke of Ancaster, Lord Orford, the Earl of March and Lord Montford. He died young, at the age of 36, his will being proved by his wife Alice on 10th March 1773.

The painting has tradititionally been called “Sir Charles Bunbury's racehorse “Piggy”. No thorughbred of that name was recorded in the General Stud Book until the 20th century, and it seems more likely that this is a hunter rather than a racehorse. The identification of the groom's livery as that of Sir Charles Bunbuty is likewise mistaken: his colours were vertical stripes of pink and white rather than the blue and white evident in the painting. Sir Charles Bunbury was one of the most significant racehorse owners of the 18th century. Centred on his estates in Cheshire, he maintained and bred numerous good thoroughbreds: it was he who lost the toss of a coin with Lord Derby to decide who should give his name to what has become themost famous horse race of all time.