This Week in...
Britain’s National Trust Members to Vote on Draghunt Ban
Trail hunting is under attack even on land donated by foxhunters. (pg. 2)
Millbrook Hunt Hosts Season’s Performance Trial Opener
The first of 9 qualifiers for national champion foxhound is a huge success. (pg. 3)
Bridle: My North Star by Sean Cully
A heartfelt story about a special foxhound (pg. 6)
Toulouse-Lautrec: Horses, Hounds, and the Hunt by Norman Fine
Surprise: the master post-impressionist was quite at home with stag hunting. (pg. 9)
A Sportsman’s Artist: Franklin Brooke Voss by Claudia Pfeiffer
A sporting artist who lived the life he painted (pg. 15)
Britain’s National Trust Members to Vote on Draghunt Ban
By Norman Fine
In late October, more than five million members of Britain’s National Trust will be asked to vote on whether or not trail-hunting should be banned on trust-owned land. Seems ironic considering that so many of the donors of the properties and lands now held by the trust were country sportsmen, sportswomen, and foxhunters.
A similar vote was taken just five years ago. Trail hunting prevailed by just one percent of the very small percentage of members who voted. To achieve that result, the board used discretionary proxy votes to defeat the proposal. At the same time, however, the board banned the continued use of animal-based scents like fox urine. The issue is even more divisive today.
“Trail-hunting’ is a cover for foxhunting,” opponents claim. The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) plans a protest outside October’s Annual General Meeting. Draghunters insist that trail-hunting does not involve animal cruelty.
Notwithstanding the results of the 2017 vote, last year the National Trust joined a group of other large landowners in Britain who claimed that trail hunt organizers planned to kill foxes. The trust joined those landowners in suspending trail-hunting. If the anti-hunt campaigners win in October, the suspension will become permanent.
“We’ve been listening carefully to both sides of a highly polarized and passionate debate,” the trust said, as reported by Jane Dalton in The Independent.
Posted September 6, 2021
Millbrook Hunt Hosts Season’s Performance Trial Opener
By Norman Fine
RoseTree-Blue Mountain prevails with all five entries finishing among the top-ten overall scoring hounds, including Bridle 2015, the winner.
(video will open in a new window)
Through an early morning mist, foxhounds are in full cry after the coyote. This excellent video was filmed on the second day of the Millboo Hunt Foxhound Performance Trials. / Video by Marion Latta de Vogel
The first of ten foxhound performance trials scheduled across North America this season is history. Millbrook Hunt (NY) hosted the 2021/2022 opener on September 8 and 9, 2021. Participants enjoyed superb weather, gorgeous country, exciting sport, and Millbrook’s unparalleled hospitality.
The first nine trials are qualifiers for the tenth and final Grand Championship Trials. That final showdown is scheduled for March 26 and 27, 2022, in Hoffman, North Carolina, where a national champion and the top ten foxhounds countrywide will be recognized.
(L-R) Trial Huntsman Tony Leahy, MFH, Fox River Valley Hunt (IL) and Massbach Hounds (IL); Cody Hayes, huntsman, Golden’s Bridge Hounds (NY); Sean Cully, MFH and huntsman, Rose Tree-Blue Mountain Hunt PA); Marion Thorne, MFH and huntsman, Genesee Valley Hunt (NY); Bart Poole, huntsman, Essex Fox Hounds (NJ); Erin McKenney, huntsman, Millbrook Hunt (NY); Sam Clifton, huntsman, Rolling Rock Hunt (PA). / Fred Berry photo
At Millbrook, seven hunts entered five hounds each: Essex Fox Hounds (NJ), Genesee Valley Hunt (NY), Golden’s Bridge Hounds (NY), Millbrook Hunt (NY), Old Chatham Hunt (NY), Rolling Rock Hunt (PA), and Rose Tree-Blue Mountain Hunt (PA).
After two days of hunting, the Overall High-Scoring Foxhound was Rose Tree-Blue Mountain Bridle 2015. Bridle scored convincingly among the top ten of all thirty-five hounds competing on each of the two days.
Bridle is a seven-year-old Crossbred female going back on her topline through Fox River Valley to Mooreland and even earlier to an unregistered American dog hound acquired by Midland. On her bottom line, she goes back through several generations of Deep Run breeding to Middleburg Crossbred dams.
Rose Tree-Blue Mountain was also the winning hunt at Millbrook, with all five hounds entered finishing among the overall top ten scores. Cully's hounds accounted for first place, third, fifth, seventh, and eighth. All hounds finishing in the top ten in each of the nine trials automatically qualify for the final Grand Championship competition. Cully held a full house.
The top four scoring hunts were, from first to fourth, Rose Tree-Blue Mountain, Rolling Rock, Genesee Valley, and Millbrook. Rolling Rock Gunshot was second overall, and that hunt had two hounds that finished in the top ten. Genesee Valley also had two hounds among that elite company and Golden’s Bridge had one.
It has always impressed me how consistently the scoring system comes up with the best performing hounds based on the inputs of the appointed judges who record the facts of their observations on tape during the progress of the hunt. The process is not subjective. Having served as a judge for a number of the earlier trials, I always marveled how consistently the same leading hounds would appear on so many of the judges’ lists as the scores were entered. Each top-performing hound was receiving scores from many judges.
The overall high-scoring hound, Rose Tree-Blue Mountain Bridle, and second high scorer, Rolling Rock Gunshot, appear among the top four hounds each of the two days. Third-placed RT-BM Pickle ranked third both days. Sixth-placed Rolling Rock Stinger and ninth-placed Golen's Bridge Jerry were also ranked among the top ten on both days.
"'Pretty is as pretty does' really applies to foxhounds," wrote Trial President Fred Berry, MFHA District Director for the Carolinas, in his letter to hunts introducing the 2021/2022 schedule of Performance Trials. The Foxhound Performance Trial is surely the most revealing competition your editor has seen for Masters, huntsmen, and breeders to (1) compare their pack’s hunting abilities to those of their peers and (2) find proven hunting bloodlines for their breeding program.
Milbrook huntsman Erin McKenney, whose home country provide such good sport, observed, “It was really fun to watch hounds hunt in different styles and click like they did. All the packs had hounds with different strengths. They really ran well together. Click for complete scores for all entries on each day.
Finally, don’t miss Marion Latta de Vogel’s excellent short video of the Millbrook Foxhound Performance Trials, day two.
Posted September 14, 2021
Bridle: My North Star
By Sean Cully, MFH
Rose Tree-Blue Mountain Bridle 2015 sports her winning ribbons for Overall High Scoring Foxhound and for leading the hunt to first place among the competing packs at Millbrook.
I want to tell you about a foxhound in my pack, the Rose Tree-Blue Mountain Hunt (PA). She has proven herself to me for years and just finished the Millbrook Performance Trial as the overall high-scoring foxhound.
Selecting hounds to take to Millbrook, I was not at all sure I would bring her. Now, in her seventh season and having whelped two litters of puppies, I had reservations.
But Bridle made my decision easy on a hunting day about two weeks before the trial. On that day, seventeen couple of bi*ches got away well on a red fox and pushed it hard for over an hour, providing many views of this good running fox.
Just past the hour mark, I was trotting down a gravel road, and the fox popped out no more than a hundred yards ahead of me. It ran toward me for twenty-five yards, turned, and completed its crossing into the covert on the other side.
I pulled up and sat about fifty yards from the line. Soon after, Bridle popped out first, carrying the line as nicely as can be, making the turn on the road, then turning into the covert going away―still leading the pack. The other hounds were not far behind, but as often happens, they made a small check on the road and were then drawn to the line by Bridle’s voice carrying the line out of sight through the thicket.
I have seen that same thing happen countless times over the years with Bridle and realized at that moment that she deserved to go to Millbrook. I couldn’t be happier with that decision and I am proud that she was recognized as Champion Foxhound.
Trial huntsman Tony Leahy, MFH, draws along the edge of the cornfield at the Millbrook hound trials. Bridle, #77, works closely behind.
The second day of hunting at the Millbrook Performance Trial was spectacular this year. We were chasing a sandy-colored coyote that would run for a bit in the corn and then to the woods and back to the corn again, never leaving a few hundred-acre area on a hilltop in Millbrook’s beautiful country. The judges and the field had countless views making the day so much fun for everyone. The chase was incredibly intense, with seventeen-and-a-half couple of the best hounds from the seven hunts participating.
At one hours in, I was riding alongside the hard-pressing pack that was racing through the corn not far from the edge. I moved slightly ahead, anticipating a crossing at a wide path through the corn. Sure enough, the coyote crossed the path, and I could hear the pack closing in. I saw the number 77 hound, Bridle, pop out of the corn first at the crossing, no more than fifteen seconds behind. She held up for a few seconds as if to wait for the pack and then hustled along on the line back out of sight, continuing her job very effortlessly and business-like.
Bridle stood out at an early age. Late one summer morning during her first season, several puppies were trying to run some off-game. Bridle was out that day but was not one of the culprits misbehaving. She was, however, nearby when the miscreants were reprimanded. During the commotion, Bridle promptly left the area, took her own line back to the trailer, hopped in, and laid down. She knew better and wanted no part of it.
That same season her ability to chase a red fox, our predominant quarry in Pennsylvania, became apparent. She was a natural leader, not necessarily running away from the pack. But she has a knack for leading the show and leading in the most effortless way.
Having had the pleasure of hunting Bridle for the last six seasons, I think I can describe her ways reasonably accurately. She is silent on a cold trail, yet she is an ace at trailing up and jumping a fox. She will often be in sight of me while I am drawing, but the minute I see her leave, I know the chase will soon be on. She will not participate in a slow-moving, dwelling-type hunt. She also will not help hounds trying a heel line. Any time young hounds try any off-game line, she is instantly at my side.
We have Bridle’s full brother in the kennel. He is similar to his sister and has been a strong hound for years in our dog hound pack.
It has been my pleasure and privilege to hunt this superb foxhound, and I must give all the credit for Bridle to her breeder, Richard Roberts, huntsman at the time for the Deep Run Hunt (VA). It is her breeding that provided her with her talent. Richard gave the pair to me as puppies. Bridle’s dam was Deep Run Beatrix, whom I think I can say possessed the same gifts and passed them on to Bridle. I am forever grateful for the generosity of the Masters of Deep Run and to Richard.
Bridle will continue through the season, after which she will retire to a well-deserved home. She will be greatly missed from the pack.
Posted September 17, 2021
Toulouse-Lautrec: Horses, Hounds, and the Hunt
By Norman Fine
This astonishing photograph, sent by Debra Pring, shows Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec standing by horse and hound and holding a French stag hunting horn.
And here we thought that the Master Post-Impressionist spent all his spare time at the Moulin Rouge with wine, dancers, prostitutes, and his fellow artist friends. Not so! Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was well familiar with horses, hounds, and stag hunting.
Lautrec studied and painted many horses―racing, hacking, parading, and performing at the circus. Classically trained, he is known for working in multiple media: painting, printmaking, drawing, draughting, and just plain illustrating. Prodigiously. All, while suffering under the cloud of his deformity.
He was born to privilege in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France on November 24, 1864, the first-born child of an aristocratic family. His grandmothers were sisters, however. His parents, the Comte and Comtesse, were first cousins.
Had Henri developed normally, it is logical to suppose that he would have ridden ponies as a youngster and had ample opportunities to hunt the stag. Surely, family and friends hunted, and that may be what we see in this surprising photo.
A younger brother was born three years later but died the following year. His parents separated after that, and young Henri was brought up by a nanny.
At age eight, he went to live with his mother in Paris. The family quickly recognized his talent in drawing and painting, and an artist friend of his father, René Princeteau, who specialized in equine art visited occasionally to give him lessons. Lautrec is considered by some to be one of the famous horse painters.
His mother, concerned with his health, sent him at age eleven to thermal baths at Amélie-Les-Bains and consulted doctors in the hope of finding a way to improve her son's growth and development.
At the age of thirteen, he fractured his right femur. At age fourteen, he fractured the left femur. The breaks did not heal properly, and his legs stopped growing. His torso grew to adult size, but his total height topped out at just four feet eight inches.
Unable to participate in the usual activities of boys of his station, Henri immersed himself in art and progressed. His work impressed his father’s friend Priceteau who arranged for him to return to Paris to study with the acclaimed portrait painter, Léon Bonnat.
At his new Master’s studio in the heart of Montmartre, Henri was captured by the bohemian lifestyle and the artists, writers, and philosophers who frequented the district. His mother’s hopes for a fashionable and respectable career to develop for her son from his time with Bonnat were dashed. Once in Montmartre, he rarely left over the next twenty years of his life.
At age eighteen, Toulouse-Lautrec moved to the studio of Fernand Cormon, with whom he studied for another five years. Cormon’s methods were more relaxed than Bonnat’s and students were allowed the freedom to roam Montmartre and choose their own subjects to paint. He became friends with Cézanne, Gaugin, and Seurat. He met Émile Bernard and Vincent van Gogh during this period and had his first experience with a prostitute. The door was opened to one of his oft-painted subjects.
A favorite model was Carmen Gaudin, painted in "The Laundress."
He was invited to show his work in Belgium and regularly took part in the activities of the French Société des Artistes Indépendants. He painted scenes of Montmartre and a series of plein-air paintings of Carmen Gaudin, the same red-headed model who appears in The Laundress, which he painted in his twenty-second year. In 2005, that painting was sold at auction by Christie’s for 22.4 million dollars.
He was commissioned by the Moulin Rouge upon that cabaret's opening to produce a series of promotional posters. Though still receiving a regular income from his mother, and while other artists looked down on such work, Lautrec took it on. The posters represented income of his own making. The cabaret reserved a seat for him and displayed his paintings.
And just imagine the painterly subjects...the characters...that came through the Moulin Rouge for his interpretations! He memorialized singer Yvette Guilbert, dancer Louise Weber (La Goulue) who invented the Can-Can, and dancer Jane Avril.
Haunted throughout life, however, by his physical deformity, alcohol was a refuge. At the age of thirty-four, he suffered a collapse due to exhaustion and the effects of alcoholism. He reportedly contracted syphilis from Rosa La Rouge, a prostitute who was the subject of several of his paintings.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec died at his mother’s home on September 9, 1901. He was thirty-seven. Death was attributed to the complications of alcohol and syphilis upon his long-time fragile health.
One version of his last words was reportedly from the hunting field. Using the word, “Hallali,” the French huntsman’s term at the kill, he is reported to have said to his father, “'Je savais, papa, que vous ne manqueriez pas l'hallali.”
“I knew, papa, that you wouldn't miss ‘the death.’”
Posted September 7, 2021
A Sportsman’s Artist: Franklin Brooke Voss
By Claudia Pfeiffer
Franklin Brooke Voss (American, 1880–1953), Tom Allison, Huntsman of Meadow Brook Hounds, 1934, 12 x 16 1/8 inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Katrina Hickox Becker, 2020
Franklin Brooke Voss counted among his patrons a Who’s Who of some of the most successful and affluent people in the United States in the early-to-mid-20th century, including the likes of John Hay Whitney, J. Watson Webb, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, Alfred Vanderbilt, Walter Jeffords, F. Ambrose Clark, and Emily T. DuPont. These patrons, however, had something other than wealth in common. They were all equestrians in a golden age of turf and field sports, and just as importantly, they were supporters of the arts.
Voss was born in New York City in 1880. He began drawing equine subjects while still in school and studied with George Bridgman at the Art Students League of New York in New York City for seven years at the turn of the century. Upon completing his education, Voss began painting by commission.
Voss was commissioned to paint many of the leading steeplechase and flat racehorses of the day. He also painted foxhunting, polo, and coaching compositions; many works featured the portraits of prominent horse owners, trainers, and riders. Voss completed over five hundred works, and he undoubtedly became a successful equine portraitist to discerning members of the turf and field because he shared their passion for and knowledge of horses, equine sports, and art.
Franklin Brooke Voss (American, 1880–1953), (above) Portrait of Mrs. William C. Langley, Aside on Sandown, oil on canvas, 28 x 36 inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Mrs. Eleanor Langley Fletcher, 1962
Voss came from a family of equestrians and grew up on Long Island in the midst of what was then prime foxhunting country. His father was a founder of the Rockaway Hunt Club on Long Island, and his uncle formed the Elkridge Hounds in Monkton, Maryland, so it is not surprising that Voss was himself a polo player in his youth and an avid foxhunter and horseman. Several members of the Meadow Brook Hounds, the leading pack on Long Island, with whom Voss also subscribed, became his patrons and repeatedly commissioned works from him. Portrait of Mrs. William C. Langley Riding Aside on Sandown, 1921, and other horse portraits were all painted for Elida B. and William C. Langley, both members of the Meadow Brook.
Franklin Brooke Voss (American, 1880–1953), (above) Mr. Thomas’ Foxhounds Leaving Huntland Kennels, November 1919, oil on canvas, 16 x 24 inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Dr. Betsee Parker, 2011; (below) Mr. Thomas’ Foxhounds in the Piedmont Country, 1919, oil on canvas, 16 x 24 inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Dr. Betsee Parker, 2011
Many of Voss’s works were also reproduced as illustrations, including Mr. Thomas’ Foxhounds in Piedmont Country (below), also known as Gone Away Across the Blue Grass in Full Cry. The painting was one of a pair (above and below) commissioned by the author Joseph B. Thomas and was the frontispiece for Thomas’s 1937 book, Hounds and Hunting Through the Ages.
Mr. Thomas’ Foxhounds in the Piedmont Country, 1919, oil on canvas, 16 x 24 inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Dr. Betsee Parker, 2011
Franklin Brooke Voss (American, 1880–1953), Alligator, 1929, oil on canvas, 28 x 36 inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of the children of Peter Winants, Sr. (July 31, 2009)
Voss painted and hunted in much of the Mid-Atlantic and in England throughout his life, but he continued to have strong ties to and complete many works around Long Island and Maryland. Alligator, 1929, the portrait of the winning steeplechaser remembered for going on to win both the 1929 Maryland Hunt Cup and the 1930 International Gold Cup after falling and being remounted in each race, was painted at the Meadow Brook course for owner Maud K. Stevenson of Long Island. She married S. Bryce Wing, a famous Maryland horseman, foxhunter, and longtime friend and patron of the painter.
It is fitting that in the end, Voss, a life-long equestrian and artist, would die of a heart attack on a day out with the Elkridge-Harford pack surrounded by his friends and supporters while foxhunting in Monkton, MD in 1953.
Posted September 9, 2021
Claudia Pfeiffer is Deputy Director and George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Curator at the National Sporting Library & Museum, Middleburg, Virginia. She has held the position since 2012 when it was first established by the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Foundation. Her primary focus is the research, design, interpretation, writing, and installation of exhibitions.
This story has been republished with the kind permission of the author and the National Sporting Library & Museum, publisher of the original version.