Sep 26 2015

Anatomy of a Peter Helck Painting: Bulls Head Turn

In 1941 Peter Helck created this marvelous painting of Joe Tracy in his Locomobile battling Ferenc Szisz in a Renault at the Bulls Head Turn in Greenvale during the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup Race.

The painting was owned by Smith Hempstone Oliver, the first transportation curator for the Smithsonian Instiorution. Oliver featured this painting and other Helck paintings along with the Vanderbilt Cup trophy during a 1947 exhibit at the United States National Museum in Washington, DC.

Below is documentation of this painting, including the special signed messages found on the reverse side when the matting was removed.


Howard Kroplick

Reverse side of painting

"Brings back memories of the Vanderbilt Cup Race of 1905." Joe Tracy

Fairfield Conn. Meet July, 25, 1942

" All good wishes to Hemp. Oliver." Peter Helck

Correspondence from Peter Helck to Smith Hempstone Oliver, October 30, 1944

Peter Helck: "Picture was not made from memory , nor a photo. Rather from a thousand impressions gotten from auto racing and a specific interest in the two cars shown. I naturally consulted photos for reference as to car details but in no way dependent on such assistance in making the composition."

Helck exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution, March 3- April 27, 1947

The painting can be seen behind the Vanderbilt Cup trophy.

Sunday Star, March 17, 1947

Washington Traveler, March 1947

These photos may have been used by Peter Helck as reference for the painting.

Joe Tracy and the #7 Locomobile

Ferenc Szisz and the #10 Renault

Bulls Head Turn, 1905

#2 De Dietrick driven by Arthur Duray

#8 FIAT driven by Felice Nazzaro

#19 White Steamer driven by Walter White


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