Exclusives & Emancipists
Featured Image: Mounted horseman in Macquarie Street, Sydney in 1854 (Joseph Fowles, DG 250) Acknowledge the State Library of NSW. The horse portrait depicts the owner’s status among ‘Colonial Gentlemen’. Publican Stephen Butts portrayal references those of political leaders and royalty who are similarly shown on horseback in oil paintings from the sixteenth century onwards. The painting also demonstrates Butts’ great pride in his possessions. (‘Equinity’ Exhibition 8 October 2007 to 13 January 2008, State Library of NSW).
While great changes were taking place on the pastoral properties and studs outside the County of Cumberland it was a much more genteel purview in the city of Sydney. Prosperity had arrived in the colony and become firmly founded. The establishment ascendant ‘Exclusives’ vied with the emergent ‘Emancipists’ for primacy in both private and public life. Competition bubbled away just below the surface; not infrequently exploding above ground. Suitable mounts were de rigueur for both castes. Even then as now the superficially meretricious arrivistes and parvenus tended to display more ostentatious wealth? In 2017 the latter tend to own the most glitzy SUVs, black stretch limousines and expensive sports models.
It has been postulated that the (named) gentleman on the magnificent white thoroughbred is from the ‘merchant caste’? An exclusive might have been more modest. It nonetheless underlines the status to be acquired by ownership of superior blood stock. Horses had well and truly arrived in both city spaces and outback country.