‘Sentinel’ was not conceived as a portrait, but very soon after Kristine Nason started work on the painting events determined that it should become one – and a tribute to a very special horse.
In October 2005, as regional coordinator for the Windsor group of the Society of Equestrian Artists, Kristine ran a workshop for artists at the Light Cavalry stables in the heart of Windsor Great Park. Their main model for the day was to be a stunning 18.2hh bay gelding named Prince. He was led into the indoor school to murmurs of appreciation from the assembled artists as they caught sight of this huge handsome animal. He was set free to buck, roll, and cavort around the arena while we sketched wildly trying to record the beauty and grace of movement presented to us. Then, at a word from his handler he composed himself and stood meekly at her side giving them a chance to make more detailed sketches.
That afternoon an officer of the regiment, Christopher, joined them, and horse and rider were kitted out in the full dress uniform of the Honourable Artillery Company Light Cavalry. They stood patiently for two hours, giving the artists an opportunity to paint them with the glorious backdrop of the Great Park in autumn and Windsor Castle on the skyline.
Following the workshop, with the references gathered there, it was Kristine's
intention to produce a couple of small paintings to exhibit in London the following summer. At the beginning of January, Kristine started an oil painting based on Prince with a uniformed rider on board. There was no plan to make it very detailed, certainly not a portrait, and it would have been completed in a few weeks if not for a call from a friend who rides at the cavalry stables. She had shocking news – Prince had died of colic.
At eight years old Prince had been in the prime of his life. He had great character and his intelligence and gentleness impressed everyone who knew him. The artists, who had met Prince for just one day of his life, fell in love with his beauty.
Word soon got out that Kristine was working on a painting of Prince, and the expectation grew that it would be a portrait recording the essence of this magnificent animal in the role in which he excelled. She returned to it with a revised intent to fulfil the unwritten brief. Gradually, over a period of months, the finer points of equestrian anatomy were fleshed out beneath the gleaming coat; the rider became recognisable as Christopher and details of his uniform were faithfully painted in; a stormy sky was added for contrast and gravitas.
Kristine is told that the painting resonates with the presence of its subject, and she is pleased to think that something of Price is now held forever by her artwork.
KRISTINE NASON S.E.A., S.W.A