Three women exercising horses in a remount depot. They take their charges through their paces in an indoor straw ride. Each woman rides one horse and leads another.
During World War One women were employed at Army Remount Depots in training and preparing horses for military service. Kemp-Welch was commissioned by the Women’s Work Section of the Imperial War Museum to paint a scene at the largest such depot, one staffed entirely by women, at Russley Park in Wiltshire. The Museum authorities were unhappy with the painting, The Ladies Army Remount Depot, Russley Park, Wiltshire which Kemp-Welch first submitted but were aware of a larger and much better composition on the same subject that she had painted and intended to sell to a private client for £1,000. Kemp-Welch agreed that the second painting, The Straw-Ride- Russley Park, Remount Dep’t Wiltshire was the better of the two and agreed to sell it to the IWM to fulfill her commission. However, she was unable to agree a fee with the Women’s Work Section and after protracted discussions, donated it free of charge to the Museum.
About the Artist, via Wikipedia:
Lucy Elizabeth Kemp-Welch (20 June 1869 – 27 November 1958) was a British painter and teacher who specialized in painting working horses. She is best known for the paintings of horses in military service she produced during World War One and for her illustrations to the 1915 edition of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty.
In 1924, for the Royal Exchange, Kemp-Welch designed and completed a large panel commemorating the work of women during World War One. From 1926 onwards she focussed on depicting scenes of gypsy and circus life and spent several summers following Sanger’s Circus, recording the horses.
She resided in Bushey, Hertfordshire for most of her life and a major collection of her works is in Bushey Museum. They include very large paintings of wild ponies on Exmoor, galloping polo ponies, the last horse-launched lifeboat being pulled into a boiling sea, heavy working horses pulling felled timber and hard-working farm horses trudging home at the end of the day.
Credits and Attributions:
Lucy Kemp-Welch, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:The Straw Ride- Russley Park Remount Dep’t, Wiltshire Art.IWMART3160.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:The_Straw_Ride-_Russley_Park_Remount_Dep%27t,_Wiltshire_Art.IWMART3160.jpg&oldid=262266456 (accessed March 18, 2021).
Wikipedia contributors, “Lucy Kemp-Welch,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lucy_Kemp-Welch&oldid=996250015 (accessed March 18, 2021).