The Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame is proud to announce that it has been gifted two wonderful new acquisitions! The first is a group of three paintings by renowned equine artist F. B. Voss. The three paintings include individual portraits of the best and favorite polo playing mares owned by Hall of Famer J. Watson Webb (1991 inductee); Naughty Girl, her daughter Fairy Girl and Chemawa.
James Watson Webb was the only left-handed 10-goal player in the history of polo. In his book “American Polo,” Newell Bent said of him, “In the year 1921 Mr. J. Watson Webb played on our international team against England. In 1924 and 1927 he again represented his country in the international matches, and over a long term of years he has strongly helped one team or another in all our important cup events. A left-handed player, a fine back-field player as well as a forward, Mr. Webb is very quick, a fine horseman, and a very accurate goal hitter.” From 1908 to 1929, Webb won the U.S. Open six times, the Senior and Junior Championship each twice, and he proved himself to be an extraordinary, unselfish and versatile sportsman. Webb and his great mares were lauded as superstars in the International matches of the 1920s.
The Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame was notified that these important works were being offered at the Webb estate auction at a gallery in New York. Dr. Horace Laffaye, well-known author of numerous books on the sport of polo, flew to New York and, thankfully, was the successful bidder. He subsequently notified the Museum that he would be donating the artwork.
Naughty Girl (Right For’ard x Good Girl) was a chestnut mare, believed to have been foaled in 1913 and bred by Sir John Barker at Bishop’s Stortford. Her daughter Fairy Girl (Christopher Columbus x Naughty Girl), was a bay mare, bred by Horace Havemeyer. In the November 1927 edition of Polo Magazine in an article titled “Horses and Heroines,” J.C. Cooley wrote about Webb’s two mares:
“And so we come to Mr. Watson Webb’s famous chestnut mare, Naughty Girl, which like Gay Boy is sinfully misnamed. This daughter of the noted polo pony sire Right For’ard, which also was the sire of the great Tenby, has been playing polo for the past thirteen years. But she goes on better and faster and stronger than ever and in the International games this year was played two chukkers in each match by her owner. She is playing great polo and her daughter, Fairy Girl, bids fair to follow the maternal lead. For she is one of Mr. Webb’s best, she was played in many of the test matches, and like Mr. Howard Phipps’ mare Chopsticks, she is bringing added fame to the merits of Christopher Columbus as a sire. Naughty Girl has played the game with courage all her life. She comes of a line of polo-bred stock and her dam was Good Girl. She has done her duty by her race and produced a fine and promising heir in Fairy Girl and as a just reward I would suggest that Mr. Webb change her name and call her Very Good Girl.”
Chemawa or Chimawa (Leddington x Thoroughbred mare) was a bay mare with a small star, reported to have been bred in Utah and brought east by Thomas Mangan. Webb played her in the International Matches of 1924 and she had the distinction of being assigned pad #1 leading the parade of American polo ponies in the 1927 International Matches.
Particularly as a group, these portraits are of great significance to the Museum and will be joining a collection of wonderful polo art. It should be noted that before being put on exhibit, they will need to be cleaned and re-framed, donations are being accepted for this cause.
The second donation is a spectacular painting by the renowned Richard Stone Reeves – a portrait of four ponies that were owned by Walter B. Devereux, polo player and author of “Position and Team Play in Polo.” The ponies are Romalcho, Mountain Boy, Hard to Catch and Katydid. This is another remarkable and incredibly meaningful addition to the Museum’s collection this year.
All Photos Courtesy of the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.