Part of the fun of writing my latest novel, Painted Stallion, was researching Henry Stull, American equine painter (1851-1913.) Henry figures largely in the novel.
I’d first seen a Stull painting in a magazine and finding more on the Internet, was drawn to his glossy horses with perfectly depicted anatomy and jockeys with brilliantly patterned silks. The horses were often famous winners and the silks were accurate. But it also delighted me to see the “rocking horse” posture in which he often painted his running horses, front and back legs fully extended. I’ve learned since that many owners asked for that posture for years, even though it was unrealistic. It was a well-loved artistic convention.
I wanted to find out more about Stull and in my travels, visited the Horse Park and Keeneland Race Course libraries in Lexington, Kentucky; the Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, Tennessee; and the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. And my research for the novel paid off: it was in Saratoga Springs that in August 2008 I finally saw one of the rocking horse pictures. I’m sure the other artgoers thought me silly. I was grinning like a fool.