Medal Day, 1894 by Alexander H. Wardlow
Painted by Alexander H. Wardlow, Medal Day shows Arthur J. Balfour driving in as Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club on 26 September 1894. This large scale work, measuring 193 x 333 cms, contains 191 individual portraits.
Wardlow was a London based artist, who advertised himself as a ‘miniaturist’. He was commissioned to undertake the painting by Dickinson & Foster, a fine art publishing firm. Their interest in art was to make money from the sale of prints. The themes that they commissioned in this period varied and included cricket, racing, hunting and battle scenes. They also commissioned a portrait of Tom Morris, by the artist Henry J. Brooks.
Medal Day took about three years to complete. Wardlow began the painting around 1895 and made visits to St Andrews, where members of the Club sat for him.
In October 1897 an article in Golf magazine reported that despite not being finished, it had been on display at the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh, “where it had attracted considerable attention”. It must have been finished soon afterwards, as the print was registered in July 1898.
The Right Honourable A.J. Balfour had been an R&A member for less than six months when he was nominated as captain-elect. He entered politics in 1874, at the age of twenty-six, and was elected Conservative MP for the borough of Hereford. He served as Irish Chief Secretary and in 1891 was appointed Leader of the House of Commons and First Lord of the Treasury. At the time of the painting, he was Leader of the Opposition. Balfour was Prime Minister from 1902-1905. He was later First Lord of the Admiralty (1915-1916) and Foreign Secretary (1916-1919).
The Captain Driving In, 2003 by Anthony Oakshett
Commissioned as part of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club’s 250th anniversary celebrations, the painting shows the moment when HRH The Duke of York drove into office on 18 September 2003. Painted on a grand scale, it measures almost 2m high x 4m wide.
The brief given to the artist requested a genuine reproduction of the event. In order to achieve this, the action was recorded on cine film from a scaffold that was erected on the Old Course. Photographers were also positioned on either side of the fairway and beside the canon. The original remit stated that 200 of those present should be identifiable; however the final work shows over 500 individual portraits.
The painting was completed in 2006.