Home > Artists > Liborio Prosperi > Artwork

(click image to enlarge)

Mr Geo Egerton, Our Handicapper

Lib (Liborio Prosperi) (1854-1928)


Signed, inscribed with title and dated 1886

Watercolour and pencil with bodycolour

14 ½ x 9 ½ inches

Thomas Gibson Bowles;
The John Franks Collection

Similar to Vanity Fair 24 August 1889, Men of the Day no 437, 'Official Handicapper to the Jockey Club'

Chris Beetles & Alexander Beetles (eds.) Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection, London: Chris Beetles Ltd, 2023, page 85

'in Vanity Fair', Stanford University, San Francisco, September-November 1980;
'Vanity Fair 1869-1914', Church Farm House Museum, Hendon, September-December 1983;
'Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, October-November 2023, no 41

At the time of his portrait in Vanity Fair, George Mark Leycester Egerton (1837-1898) was serving as the official handicapper for the Jockey Club. Founded in 1750 (though some claim as early as the 1710s), the Jockey Club was a high societal meeting place for those passionate about horseracing. Initially meetings were held in London at the Star and Garter in Pall Mall and also in St James’ Street and Hyde Park. In 1752, the Jockey Club leased a plot of land in Newmarket where a coffee house was constructed in the High Street as a meeting place. They soon purchased the freehold and the meeting place became known as the Jockey Club Rooms, which still exists today.

The role of the handicapper was to decide on what handicap weights were assigned to which horses in an attempt to equalise the competitive field.

“Three years ago he was made Official Handicapper to the Jockey Club, which absolute body has since had no reason to regret his appointment; but long before that he was an acknowledged authority on the merits of horses, as he often showed by amateur handicapping in a small way. Every inch of his six feet is an inch of a soldier, though he is now rounder than he was when he marched with the Rifle Brigade before the grey began to show upon him; yet his manners are mild enough to conceal the firmness of his unyielding disposition from those who know him only on the surface. He is full of racing lore, and could revise the proofs of ‘Ruff’ without reference; for he is so devoted, both by profession and inclination, to the Turf and to performances thereon that it is very hard for the most knowing sportsman to get round him, although he always looks at things through a single eye-glass, and therefore, presumably, has a blind side. He is so straight that it would be absurd to say that his work gives general satisfaction to racing men, unless it be assumed that most racing men are straight; and when - as is the case a few men on the Turf are found to object to the way in which he applies his weights to their horses, their objections to his methods are but a tribute to his merits. He lives near Doncaster, and acquits himself excellently well in a very thankless office. He is a good, honest fellow.”

Related Artwork