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Bill Shoemaker

Artist
Zbigniew Nyczak, born 1955
Sitter
William Lee Shoemaker, 19 Aug 1931 - 12 Oct 2003
Date
1994
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 61 x 91.4 x 1.9cm (24 x 36 x 3/4")
Frame: 87 x 117.2 x 6.4cm (34 1/4 x 46 1/8 x 2 1/2")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Zbigniew Nyczak and the Shoemaker Foundation
Restrictions & Rights
© Zbigniew Nyczak
Object number
NPG.96.11
Exhibition Label
Only four feet, eleven inches tall and weighing just ninety-eight pounds, Bill Shoemaker was one of horse racing's smallest and lightest jockeys; he was also one of the most successful riders in the history of the sport. During a career than spanned four decades, Shoemaker tallied more than 40,000 starts and 8,833 winning rides, with repeat victories in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. Just twenty-three when he won the derby crown in 1955, Shoemaker was fifty-four when he rode to his fourth and final derby victory in 1986. Unlike some jockeys who whipped and harried their mounts to the finish line, "The Shoe" was admired for his ability to guide his horses through his skillful use of the reins and bit. As a contemporary observed, "If one needed the blueprint for the perfect jockey, [Shoemaker] would be it."
Provenance
Commissioned by the Shoemaker Foundation, Inglewood, Calif.; gift 1996 to NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition
Champions
On View
NPG, South Gallery 342 Mezzanine
Place
United States\California