This is a portrait of the golden haired racehorse, titled Trafalgar. Trafalgar was one of the most popular horses of his time within Australian horse racing circles. From 59 starts he had 24 wins, 11 seconds and 6 thirds, his most significant wins being the Sydney Cup in 1909 and the AJC Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1912. Trafalgar was a notable son of Wallace, who was the son of the 1890 Melbourne Cup winner, Carbine. In 1900, Wallace was bought by J.M.V. Smith, original owner of Bundoora Homestead and prominent identity in the horse breeding and racing industry and came to stud in 1901.
The artist Mark Gawen was born in South Australia in 1861. He was best known as a sporting artist and was mostly self-taught apart from studying in Paris for a short time in 1891 during his thirties. He received commissions to paint many of the top race horses of his period. The commission to paint Trafalgar’s portrait most likely came from his owners Messrs P & W Mitchell of Bringenlong, near Corryong. Gawen lived most of his life in Victoria and died in 1943.