For years renowned artist Peter Williams was a fixture at Keeneland and Churchill Downs, capturing the beauty of the tracks and the excitement of racing in oil paintings that came to life as spectators gathered.
This week, fans of his work will have the opportunity to purchase an original.
More than 400 paintings by Williams will be auctioned by Biederman Real Estate & Auctioneers at Fasig-Tipton on Newtown Pike in Lexington on November 1.
Biederman’s website states that these are “remaining paintings from his personal collection and archives.”
Williams, originally from New Zealand, died in 2018 at his home in Goshen, Ky., after battling Lyme disease and dementia. He was 84 years old.
While there are plenty of equestrian-themed paintings — including scenes from Keeneland, Churchill Downs and the three-day Rolex Kentucky event — among the paintings for sale on Tuesday, the estate auction also includes subjects like as landscapes and seascapes, nudes, flowers, classic cars and animal studies.
Over the years Williams has held over 50 solo exhibitions and traveled the world painting what he saw.
Fran Taylor, former executive director of the Keeneland Foundation who wrote and produced Williams’ book, Peter Williams Retrospective: Paintings and People Dear to Me, in 2012, said in an email that Williams was a prolific artist who sold many paintings but often kept for himself the best that did not sell.
“The ones he didn’t like he destroyed or painted over,” she wrote. “He didn’t throw them away because he had seen someone take one away that had been thrown in the trash.”
She said Williams enjoyed chatting with people he met while painting.
“If he really loved someone, he would hand them a brush and tell them to add something to their painting,” she wrote. “Of course they would be flattered and would buy one of his paintings quite often. I will never forget seeing him hand the brush to a little boy and tell him to paint a little ‘mouse’ in the corner. The little boy painted a mouse about 3 inches tall on an almost finished painting and Peter just laughed.
“He liked to include playful details in his paintings – a girl sunbathing in the treetops or a jockey and a bicycle in the saddle paddock. He was a character. »
The auction begins at 1 p.m. and will take place online and in person. The auction’s website says the works will be available for viewing from 3-7 p.m. Sunday and Monday.