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Phar Lap by Tahnja

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Acrylic and impasto medium on flat canvas board.

20″ × 16″.

Phar Lap (1926–1932) was a champion Thoroughbred racehorse whose achievements captured the public’s imagination during the early years of the Great Depression. Foaled in New Zealand, he was trained and raced in Australia. Phar Lap dominated Australian racing during a distinguished career, winning a Melbourne Cup, two Cox Plates and 19 other weight for age races. He then won the Agua Caliente Handicap in Tijuana, Mexico in track-record time in his final race. After a sudden and mysterious illness, Phar Lap died in 1932 (now confirmed by tests to have been cyanide that killed him). At the time, he was the third highest stakes-winner in the world. He won a remarkable 37 races from 51 starts. He was so heavily weighted after his continual success in Australia that there was really not much choice but to take him overseas to race.

His mounted hide is displayed at the Melbourne Museum, his skeleton at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and his heart at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.


Gift for my boss’ (racehorse trainer Robert Price) son, Luke Price. Luke recently had his house built and I wanted to paint something for his house. I know he loves Phar Lap as I do also.

Luke Price was a very successful jockey in Sydney as an apprentice before he suffered a terrible fall that broke his back. He recovered and attempted a come back but problems with his weight saw him return to his Father’s stables where he is the stable foreman and also trains racehorses with his father Robert.

I love this family, I love working for them and with them and I’ve never loved horses more than the horses my boss trains. I’ve learned so much with the care and patience of this racing family and they too have learned a lot from me as well in communicating and connecting with the horses on a deeper level and the results have been fantastic. It’s a pleasure to work for this family. And it’s a pleasure and an honour to give this gift to Luke to display in his house.

And as a great compliment, I showed Luke the painting before I added the finishing details to ask him if he wanted any changes because the silks on the jockey are suppose to be bright red. The problem was that when I made them bright red they overtook the painting and I wanted the focus on Phar Lap. He loved it as it was and was not concerned that I subdued the red silks. When he saw the painting his eyes lit up so big in excitement that my heart jumped for joy….there’s no feeling like that! :o)




Tags

racing, racehorse, horse racing, phar lap, chestnut, horse, jockey, silks, riding, jimmy pike, australian racehorse, australia, impressionism, impasto

Comments

  • Barssel
    Barsselalmost 3 years ago

    “Big Red” never looked better and “Pikey” has a good hold on the champ.

  • Ade!..you are so kind to me my dear friend….and how much I felt my admiration and respect for Phar Lap as I painted this. I love the light in his eyes that connects the viewer to this wonderful racehorse with the truest ‘big heart’ of all time lol.

    Another painting that has taught me a great deal thanks to the kindness and assistance of some dear friends

    – Tahnja

  • © Linda Callaghan
    © Linda Callaghanalmost 3 years ago

    this is a great painting Tahnja…full of movement and a magnificent horse indeed! great colour choices and textures are wonderful !

  • I learned a lot doing this painting and I’m very happy about that. Thank you so much dearest friend!

    – Tahnja

  • Cindy Schnackel
    Cindy Schnackelalmost 3 years ago

    Gorgeous painting, so sad that he was apparently poisoned. The color in this is wonderful, I’m sure the recipient will treasure it!

  • It is sad that he was poisoned…and it’s honour to pay tribute to this wonderful legend and knowing he is going to be loved for many years in my painting is a great feeling. Thank you so much Cindy!

    – Tahnja

  • Matthew Scotland
    Matthew Scotlandalmost 3 years ago

    hey tahnja, this is superb and a fascinating history behind it, a beautiful tribute

  • Hi Maddy! So nice of you to stop by. I know you have an appreciation for horses and I really love that about you dear friend. The leather pack under the saddle that you can see had lead weights in it…the weight they made this horse carry because of his continual success was cruel and heartbreaking…and yet…he continued to give his all and win races. He was a champion unlike any other and still remains a household name in this country.

    Thank you for your warm compliment!

    – Tahnja

  • Michael Creese
    Michael Creesealmost 3 years ago

    i love your new direction Tahnja. This is so nicely done and stylized. I love the blending in the horse and jockey.

  • I still have to refine this style and make it work better but I have a good handle on where I want to take it and I’m really happy with how well it’s working. More commissions from this painting…that makes me very happy and tells me that you’re right and I’m onto something different that works.

    I deliberately placed more focus and emphasis on the horses face and the rider’s too…I wanted that to be the focus and I think it worked well.

    Thank you for your wonderful support!

    – Tahnja

  • Matthew Scotland
    Matthew Scotlandalmost 3 years ago

    thats shocking, your passion shines through for this brave animal, symbolic of our lord

  • Yes it was…in the end there was so much weight placed on him in Australia that there was really no choice but to take him overseas to continue racing.

    – Tahnja

  • jyruff
    jyruffalmost 3 years ago

    Well well well Tahnja, ..how about all them comments on just what we were talking about!?? great yeah? aloha, sweet one , Josephxoxo

  • indeed it is GREAT! I posted this painting on DeviantArt and the racing people really love him. One very observant lady commented on how the colours and blending made him look dreamy. Yes! that’s was the ‘BINGO’ comment lol….and it made me so happy. It’s an amazing feeling to have others really connect to this racing legend and feel what I feel for him and was able to paint into the painting. Your help is so very much appreciated!

    – Tahnja

  • jyruff
    jyruffalmost 3 years ago

    It’s a great tribute to Phar Lap, …I’m sure Luke will be honored to have this hang in a prominent part of his house

  • I showed his Dad, Robert, who is also a great art fan. First thing he said was “wow Tahn…that’s UNREAL!” true emphasis in his words. And again, I wore a smile from ear to ear lol. Luke really is so wrapped that I did this for him. I’m working on another one now. Much more intense, close up of an intense horse and jockey so focused and doing great. A More recent racing great named Star Witness…can’t wait to show you the sketch on the large canvas I’m working on…this is exciting Joseph! THANK YOU!

    – Tahnja

  • Barssel
    Barsselalmost 3 years ago

  • Awesome! Thank you so much! I LOVE this horse

    – Tahnja

  • LisaRoberts
    LisaRobertsalmost 3 years ago

    Brilliant work Tahnja :) x

  • Thank you so much Lisa

    – Tahnja

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