Attributed to George Cuitt the Elder (British, 1743-1818) The Blackwell Ox
Lot 203
Attributed to George Cuitt the Elder
(British, 1743-1818)
The Blackwell Ox
Sold for £17,500 (US$ 29,384) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Attributed to George Cuitt the Elder (British, 1743-1818)
The Blackwell Ox
indistinctly inscribed on label on reverse 'George Cuitt. Bred and fed by Christr. Hill Esq', also bears typewritten label for Walker Galleries stuck to the reverse of the canvas (179 x 1 - CHALK ON STRETCHER )
oil on canvas
47 x 54.2cm (18 1/2 x 21 5/16in).


    Private Collection, U.K. Purchased by the vendor's grandfather Thence by descent

    with Walker Galleries, London c. 1932 no. 134, bought 26 guineas (according to a label attached to the reverse of the canvas).
    Although this picture, photographed in the Witt Library, is obviously by the same hand as our picture, it is listed as measuring 25 x 30ins., an anomaly for which we are unable to provide an explanation. This picture was illustrated in
    'Walker's Quarterly', 1932, pp 33-34.

    'Farm Animal Portraits', Iona Joseph and Elspeth Moncrieff with Stephen and Iona Joseph, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1988, pp 42 and 43.

    The earliest dated cattle portrait is a print of the Blackwell Ox published 27th March 1780, engraved by John Bailey after a painting by George Cuitt (op. cit. illustrated colour plate 32, page 42).

    The print is inscribed -

    'The Blackwell Ox (rising 6 years old) bred & fed by Christr. Hill. Esq: of Blackwell in the County of Durham. Killed at Darlington 17 Dec: 1779 by Mr. Geo: Coates who sold him for £109.11.6. Weight: Two fore quarters, 75 st. 7 lb; Hind do., 76st. 3 lb; Tallow 11 st.; Total, 162 st 10 lb. NB: 14 1b to the stone. Dimensions: Height at the crop, 6'0"; - Shoulder 5'9 1/4"; - Loins, 5'8"; - From breast to ground, 2'1"; Length from horns to rump, 9' 5 1/2"; - Breadth over the shoulders, 2'10 1/4"; - From hip to hip, 2'10 1/2"; Girt before the shoulder, 9' 7 1/2"; - Behind do., 10'6"; - At the loins, 9'6 3/4".'

    Bailey was an animal painter and engraver who became Steward to the Earl of Tankerville at Chillingham. He is responsible for several of the early cattle prints in the Northumberland area.
    The painting and the print were presumably commissioned by the breeder, Christopher Hill of Blackwell, County Durham, who turned to a local painter, George Cuitt, who lived a few miles away at Richmond, Yorkshire.
    He would therefore seem to be an obvious choice of painter for a local farmer requiring an accurate record of his prize ox. Indeed, Cuitt received several other commissions from local breeders including Charles Colling for whom he painted the Durham Ox in 1801, presumably because of the success of his portrait of the Blackwell Ox.
    The magnificent beast is shown grazing, with his head down, a very unusual posture, which was seldom used again by artists. In what would appear to be his only cattle portrait, George Stubbs (The Lincolnshire Ox, collection Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, painted in 1791), copied the stance of Cuitt's Blackwell Ox of 12 years earlier.

    Our painting must pre-date the print and was probably completed in 1779, therefore it is the earliest true livestock portrait.

    Walker's Gallery was founded c.1890 by Augustus Walker, art dealer, frame-maker and fine art publisher and was located at 118 New Bond Street. They held specialist exhibitions of livestock pictures (see Witt Library - 'A Second Exhibition of Old Prints and Paintings of Prize Cattle, Sheep, Pigs &c., April 9th to 30th, 1934). Presumably their first exhibition of livestock paintings was held in 1932, in which our picture was shown.

    The painting is mentioned in Iona's book as 'has not been located', therefore this is a rediscovery.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note the estimate for this lot is £4000 - £6000
  1. Lionel Willis
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