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Commodore John Cox Stevens' Black Maria Held by Bill Patrick , 1834
Edward Troye (1808-1874)

View Artist Bio
Oil on canvas
25 x 30 inches
Period Frame
Signature Details: E. Troye./May 1834
Status: Private Collection, Tennessee

Edward Troye’s painting Commodore John Cox Stevens' Black Maria Held by Bill Patrick depicts the black mare foaled in 1826, by American Eclipse, out of Lady Lightfoot, a noted racing mare by Sir Archy. Black Maria was bred by Charles Henry Hall at his estate "Harlem" on the north end of Manhattan. In 1827 she was sold to the noted thoroughbred breeder and turfman Commodore John Cox Stevens of Long Island, New York. Stevens, an eminent yachtsman, was made president of the New York Jockey Club when it was first established in 1821; he remained an officer until 1842. He was also the first Commodore of the New York Yacht Club, and under Stevens’ command, the yacht America beat eighteen British vessels in crossing the Atlantic Ocean to win the 1851 Royal Yacht Squadron Cup. He then established the America's Cup, the international yachting competition still held to this day.

Commodore Stevens' Black Maria started as a three year-old in 1829 and ran in at least twenty five races, winning thirteen, including her first race, a produce match, at the Union Course on Long Island; the Jockey Club Purse a few days later; two four-mile races in Poughkeepsie in 1830; the 20 mile race at the Union Course on Long Island in 1832; and the Post Stake in Baltimore in 1836, with life-time earnings of nearly $15,000. She started her last time at the Union Course in May 1835. Subsequently, she produced a colt foal, which died as a yearling, and Stevens sold Black Maria in 1838.

Colonel Balie Peyton of Nashville, a turf enthusiast and Tennessee Congressman from 1833 to 1837, partnered with two others to purchase Black Maria under the advisement of the editor of the Spirit of the Times and took her to his stud in Nashville. She was to drop only one more live foal, Great Western, a filly foaled in 1839. Gambling on Black Maria's only get, Peyton devised a produce stakes for foals dropped in that year. To be run in 1843, it was an overly ambitious undertaking for the economic times with a $5,000 subscription, $1,000 forfeit, and goal of a mature worth of $150,000, an unheard of amount, fifteen times the highest attained worth of $9,250 in 1838. The Peyton Stakes as it came to be known was held in Nashville and netted the winner Peytona $35,000. Although only four horses entered the race, it still netted $15,000 more than any stakes at that time. Great Western did not place and was unable to meet Peyton’s expectations. He bred Black Maria again in 1840, but she also lost this foal, dying soon thereafter in January 1841 at the age of fourteen.

Black Maria was renowned for her great stamina. She won the prominent 20 mile race at the Union Course on October 13, 1832 as a six-year old. On the day the race was run in five four-mile heats at half-hour intervals, she lost one-hundred pounds. Of the three other mares that were entered, her half-sister Lady Relief, by American Relief was second, while Slim pulled up in the second heat, and Trifle, by Sir Charles, the favorite pulled up on the last mile of the last heat. As a testament to her stamina, Black Maria went on to run again in Baltimore only eleven days later.

Two years after the race Commodore Stevens commissioned the prominent American artist Edward Troye to paint Black Maria. Troye, having immigrated to Philadelphia in 1831, exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in May of that year, an exhibition which included the likes of Benjamin West and Rembrandt Peale, gaining recognition with patrons of the racing community. Troye executed Commodore John Cox Stevens’ Black Maria Held by Bill Patrick at Stevens' expansive 170-acre stud and training facility on Long Island. The painting's unusual composition results from the circumstances surrounding its creation. Black Maria would not stand for Troye, who requested that Bill Patrick, the groom, ride her in a paddock in front of Troye's window. After several hours, Patrick tired of the exercise and unsaddled the mare. With his face turned away, he is forever captured in the rude act of tying Black Maria to a tree.

Commodore John Cox Stevens’ Black Maria Held by Bill Patrick was reproduced as an engraving by A.L. Dick and illustrated in the May 1839 issue of the illustrious Spirit of the Times. This engraving was the first of the series of fourteen entitled American Sporting Gallery, depicting prominent race horse portraits, ten of which were after paintings by Troye. It was the first such grouping and the largest size ever issued in the United States at the time. The set was reproduced one-hundred years later in 1949 as a limited edition folio of 500 with commentary by Carvel Collins. Troye’s early painting of Black Maria and its reproductions stand as a silent testimony to American horse racing in the 1830s and the important American artist Edward Troye.



Collins, Carvel. The American Sporting Gallery: Portraits of American Horses from the Spirit of the Times, 1839 – 1944 (Bound Commentary by Carvel and fourteen folio engravings), 12 ¼ x 16 ¼ inches). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1949.

Hervey, John. Racing in America. 1665 - 1865. Vol. I and II. New York: The Jockey Club, 1944.

Mackay-Smith, Alexander. The Race Horses of America, 1832 - 1872: Portraits and Other Paintings by Edward Troye, 1981, Saratoga Springs, NY: The National Racing Museum, 1981.

"Obituary. Hon. Bailie [sic] Peyton." The New York Times, August 20, 1878.

Excerpt from”Animal and Sporting Artists in America” by F. Turner Reuter, Jr. © 2008:

Troye was born Edouard de Troy in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 12 July 1808. He was the son of French sculptor and painter Jean Baptiste de Troy, with whom he studied while they were

living in London, England. In 1828 he went to the West Indies and worked for a while as a bookkeeper on a sugar plantation in Jamaica. He moved to Philadelphia, PA, in 1830 and went to work for Sartain’s Magazine as an illustrator. By 1832, however, he had established himself as a painter of thoroughbred horses, working by commission at several Southern plantations; he also painted purebred cattle and portraits of human sitters. Along with Alvan Fisher (qv) and John A. Woodside (qv), Troye would soon become one of the most noted portraitist of the American equine; Troye’s pupil, Henri DeLattre (qv), soon followed. Troye also worked in Charleston, SC, as well as in Fluvanna County, VA, where he painted Bremo, the home of General John Hartwell Cocke. In 1837 he was working on illustrations for a stud book for Kentucky horse breeders, but the book was never finished. His work also appeared in the sporting periodical The Spirit of the Times and in The American Turf Register, both published in New York City by William Trotter Porter. From 1840 to 1844 The Spirit of the Times issued The American Sporting Gallery, a series of fourteen steel engravings of well-known thoroughbred racehorses; ten of these were after paintings by Troye. He was based in Kentucky after his marriage in 1839, but was almost constantly traveling in order to keep up with his commissions. He had a farm briefly near Paducah, KY, but by late 1847 had tired of that project and began traveling again.

In 1849 Troye moved with his family to Mobile, AL, where he taught French and portraiture at Spring Hill College. He remained there until 1855, when he and Keene Richards, a wealthy horse breeder with an estate in Kentucky and a plantation in Louisiana, went on a trip to the Middle East in search of breeding stock. Troye painted several landscapes and urban scenes as well as numerous Arabian horses and Syrian cattle. He returned to the United States in January of 1857. He began to work on commission again, much of the time in Kentucky. During the Civil War he traveled and painted in Europe for two years, then returned to Georgetown, KY, where he remained for much of the rest of the war. While in Kentucky, he had two students under his tutelage: Thomas J. Scott and William Thomas Eilerts. In 1866 he began work on a series of volumes entitled The Race Horses of America, containing prints of his portraits of the best known racehorses of the day. Only one volume was ever published, apparently due to insufficient subscriptions for the second. A complete signed and numbered set of the prints from the first volume are in the collection of the Pebble Hill Plantation Museum in Thomasville, GA. In 1870 he and his family moved to a farm near Owens Cross Roads, AL, which he had been given by his patron. He continued to travel, although not as constantly as he had earlier, making trips to Memphis and Nashville, both in Tennessee, as well as New York City and other cities, and summering in Kentucky.

Troye exhibited three works at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1832: Attack of a Lion upon a Horse, Bear Hunting and Attack and Portraits of a Celebrated Horse and His Rider. The Ohio Historical Society in Columbus has his individual portraits of American Eclipse and of Henry (each horse the respective entry in the North-South Race of 1823, in which Henry was defeated by American Eclipse in three four-mile heats.

For further details on the race, see biography for Alvan Fisher). In 1932 Melville “Ned” Stone’s publishing firm, Sign of the Gosden Head (qv), reproduced a limited-edition series of twenty hand-colored engravings after Troye’s paintings entitled Famous American Thoroughbreds. The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame has Troye’s American Eclipse, Reel, Allworthy, Glencoe, Fireball, and Abdallah. The Pebble Hill Plantation Museum has his portrait of Asteroid in Training. The New-York Historical Society in New York City has a portrait of American Eclipse as well as Sir Henry and Iola. The Race Horses of America by Alexander Mackay-Smith is considered the definitive biography of Troye and includes a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work, extensively illustrated. Other institutions holding his work include the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond; the New York Jockey Club in New York City; the Louvre in Paris, France; the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, CT; the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY; The American Saddlebred Museum in Lexington, KY; the Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA; the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA; the Historic Columbia (SC) Foundation; the National Sporting Library in Middleburg, VA; and Bethany (WV) College, which has paintings from his 1855 trip to the Levant. In 2003 the Georgetown & Scott County Museum held an exhibition of Troye’s works entitled “Edward Troye”.

Troye died at Blue Grass Park, the home of Keene Richards in Georgetown, KY, on 25 July 1874.

Essay by Red Fox Fine Art. 

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