Douglas Fry (1872-1911)
oil on canvas
50.4 x 65.5 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1939
Born 1872, England. Died 1911, Sydney.
Robert Douglas Fry was an English-born equestrian painter and magazine illustrator. His brother Edward Ransome Fry was also an artist, and his sister Constance married the watercolour landscape artist John Barlow Wood. Fry studied painting at the Académie Julian in Paris and horse anatomy in London. Coming to Australia in 1899, he was a member and frequent exhibitor with the Society of Artists, and in 1908 his painting Mountain King was purchased for the Art Gallery of NSW.
At the 1909 Society of Artists' exhibition in Sydney, Fry was called the “best painter of the horse we have yet seen in Australia”. He was a keen horseman, who was always seen in riding pants and boots, and whose equine drawings were admired by Julian Ashton. He reportedly taught Norman Lindsay to ride. His reputation was steadily growing when he died at the age of 39 from pneumonia.
In this work Fry displays his excellent draughtsmanship with a side on view of the stallion racehorse Hyman--the homestead seen through the trees on the right. Hyman was bred at Durham Court in Manilla NSW by Charles Baldwin. Fry has depicted the beautiful shiny-coated chestnut stallion with his head held proudly high. Hyman was famed in 1909 for having won the Doncaster and Epsom Handicaps at Randwick Racecourse.