Ascot Heath Races

Ascot Heath Races



John Nixon (1760-1818)
Ascot Heath Races

Inscribed upper left:
Ascot Heath Races
28 June 1791
Pen and grey ink and watercolour over pencil
13.8 by 21.5cm., 5 ¼ by 8 ½ inches

This is a rare early view of horseracing at Ascot. Racing first took place at Ascot (then called `East Cote') on 11th August 1711 after Queen Anne while out riding near Windsor Castle came across an area of open heath that looked ideal for "horses to gallop at full stretch." The first race was called Her Majesty's Plate over four miles and worth 100 guineas to the winner. Seven horses took part each carrying twelve stone. The first four day meeting took place in 1768 and the first permanent stand was not erected until 1794, three years after the present watercolour was executed, and held 1,650 people. It was called the Royal Stand and was used until 1838.

Nixon was an amateur caricaturist who worked as a merchant in business with his brother in London. His work shows the influence of the best known caricaturist of the period Thomas Rowlandson, with whom he sometimes travelled on sketching tours, and like the present drawing are often lively in execution. A view by Nixon entitled `Ascot Heath Race Ground' dated 1814 was sold at Christie's on 5th March 1974, lot 39