A color print of a race in progress on a track. Three horses take the lead and their jockeys urge them on with whips. The jockeys wear colorful jackets and caps, white breeches, and high boots. The grandstands consist of a two story veranda. The roof has three transverse gables decorated with Bavarian “fachwerk.” An overflow of spectators lines the fence and the extension of the lower level balcony without a cover. The judges’ stand has a cupola roof. A wooded area is in the background.
The Sheepshead Bay Race Track was built at the Coney Island Jockey Club in 1880 in Sheepshead, New York, spurred on by the laying of the Long Island Railroad. Leonard Jerome and William Kissam Vanderbilt sponsored the building of the new track, which contained both a dirt and turf course. Sheepshead ran the first Futurity Stakes on Labor Day 1888 and it was won by Proctor Knott for a purse of $41,675, the most expensive race at the time. It was the largest crowd to attend Sheepshead, and approximately one-fourth of the crowd was reported to be women. This race is still running, although it has moved to Belmont Park. It is open to two-year-old horses and raced on dirt over a distance of seven furlongs. Until 1957, the horses had to be nominated for the race before their birth.
Maurer was born in 1832 in Biebrich-on-the Rhine in Germany, the eldest of five children. He loved to draw in his spare time and was apprenticed to a lithographer for a brief period of time. He then assisted his father as a cabinetmaker. He studied art at Mayence, and in 1851 he emigrated with his parents to America where he immediately went to work as a woodcarver. A friend recommended that he would make more money using his skills as a lithographer, so he applied to several shops before being hired by T. W. Strong at 98 Nassau Street. Later he met Charles Currier, Nathaniel's brother, who recommended that he visit his brother and show him some of his work. Nathaniel was impressed with Maurer and introduced him to Ives who interviewed all new employees. He was immediately hired and put to work in the basement of 152 Nassau Street, where he remained for over eight years.
Maurer excelled at images of horses and sporting subjects and during the eight years he was employed by Currier & Ives, produced over one hundred prints on these subjects, including such icons as the Life of the Fireman series and Preparing for Market. In 1860-1861 he went to work for Major and Knapp and from 1872-1884 he was the head of the commercial lithography firm of Maurer and Heppenheimer. He retired in 1884 and devoted himself to a number of artistic avocations, primarily painting. He lived in NYC until his death in 1932 at the age of 100. He son Alfred Maurer was also a well-known artist in the modernist era, though after the death of his father who he lived with, Alfred committed suicide. The offices of Heppenheimer and Maurer were located at 22 and 24 North William Street in New York City from 1872-1884. Maurer is chiefly known for his prints of horses, caricatures, and the famous Fireman series. At the outbreak of the Civil War he moved to Major and Knapp where he made many famous war prints including “Sherman at Savannah, GA” and “Grant and Lee”.
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