Kentucky’s Peter Williams a Lauded Equine Artist
New Zealand-born artist Peter Williams, a familiar figure in the paddocks of the most famous racetracks in the world, has died at the age of 84 at his home in Goshen, Kentucky, in the United States, the Thoroughbred Daily News reports.
Born in 1934 in Ruatoria, Williams was brought up in the family business of raising livestock on expansive sheep stations near Gisborne. An education at Hereworth School, Wanganui Collegiate School and Canterbury School of Art, fine-tuned his natural abilities and the encouragement he received made painting his passion, the Thoroughbred Daily writes.
As he began to win awards and land exhibitions in New Zealand and Australia, he was invited by Qantas Airlines to be a guest on their inaugural 747 flight to the United States in 1971. Ten years later, he returned to the US and a chance encounter with American equine painter Richard Stone Reeves led to a commission to paint racing scenes and the beginning of his own career. He was widely considered to be the unofficial artist-in-residence at Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Saratoga.
Although best known for his equine-themed work, he was equally adept at painting landscapes, flowers, homes, vintage automobiles, cityscapes, nautical scenes and figural compositions, always from life and always executed in oil. He was commissioned by royalty, art collectors, and equine organizations around the world and was twice invited by HRH Queen Elizabeth II to paint the Sandringham Estate Carriage Trials.
Although Kentucky was his adopted home for more than 25 years, there was no mistaking Williams’ New Zealand origins and he chose to host a retrospective exhibit in his homeland in 2012 for the launch of his book Peter Williams Retrospective: Paintings and People Dear to Me. In all, he had dozens of one-man shows and exhibitions in New Zealand, England, Australia and the United States.
Williams was known for his love of life and sense of humour, as well as his penchant for friendship, which led him to connect with many people throughout his life. Despite being very well known as an artist, when introductions were made, he often quipped that he was an unemployed sheepherder from New Zealand.
A celebration of Williams’s life will be held to coincide with an opening reception for his upcoming exhibition, “Peter Williams: Painted from Life”, at the Headley Whitney Museum in Lexington, Kentucky on 7 September.
Original article by Thoroughbred Daily News, August 14, 2018.