Milton Menasco


(American, 1890-1974)

Born in California in 1890, Menasco had a rich and full career as an artist in other fields before he devoted his rare genius to equestrian art.  In 1948 he left a successful career with a large New York advertising agency and moved to Kentucky to devote himself entirely to his real love, horse portraiture. There he painted the equine racing greats of the nation and helped with art direction at the Thoroughbred Record and Sporting News. He and his wife purchased a farm in Kentucky where an old brick house built in the 18th Century served for many years as his studio. He delighted in the change of the seasons, the beauty of the landscape, and the variety of foliage and animal life that he encountered there.

Horsemen admired the richness and feeling reflected in Menasco's paintings, and his clients included John Hay Whitney, Mrs. Dodge Sloane, President Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Richard DuPont. One of his first large paintings was for Mrs.Gene Markey and included nine Calumet horses, Citation, Coaltown, Bewitch and company, grouped in the track with exercise boys up. In 1953 he painted 'La Troienne' and Her Foals: Eighteen Vignettes and One Painting Together in One Frame for John Whitney. The painting was exhibited at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga. In 1999 it sold from the estate of Mrs. John Hay Whitney through Sotheby's Auction House for 74,000 (ca.$120,000).


His work is characterized by a sound understanding of anatomy.  In "The British Racehorse" Alexander Mackay-Smith wrote, "Menasco's feeling for composition follows classic lines and is executed with both skill and charm.  Menasco is also a good horseman with a good eye.  He can paint a horse as it is, in the attitudes it naturally assumes, and in the backgrounds characteristic of the track and of the stud farm."


Milton Menasco died June 9, 1974 in Versailles, Kentucky.




But Why Noy

Oil on Canvas
16 x 20

Study of Oedipus, for the 'La Troienne" Montage
Pastel and Gouache on Board
5.5" x 8"