At a glance

  • Filly, Ontario-bred, foaled April 6, 2021
  • By Danish Dynaformer out of Morning Tale
  • Trainer: Kevin Attard
  • Acquired at 2022 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale for $30,000 USD
  • Earnings to date: $118,312 USD
  • Record: 6 starts, 1-3-1
  • Stakes Winner (won 2023 Victorian Queen Stakes), first-ever stakes winner by Danish Dynaformer
  • Race replay: War Painter wins Victorian Queen Stakes Sept 24, 2023

Behind the name

War Painter’s name is a tribute to Mary Riter Hamilton: Canada’s first female battlefield artist. Hamilton was a Canadian painter who sacrificed a promising career to travel alone to an apocalyptic landscape to paint the devastation wrought by the Great War in locations where her countrymen fought and died. 

In the early days of her career, she exhibited her work widely across Canada and Europe and was a sought-after artist by high-profile collectors, among them Canada’s then-prime minister, Robert Borden.  At the outbreak of WWI, Hamilton lobbied relentlessly to serve as a war artist only to be continually rejected by a National Gallery Advisory Council that refused to send a woman. Her sense of artistic mission intensified as millions were killed and wounded. Hamilton found another way to the battlefields: securing a commission from a soldiers’ magazine during the armistice in 1919 to capture the aftermath of war and Canadian sacrifices before reconstruction, nature, and the gaps of memory began to erase the scars.  It required immense courage and heart for anyone – especially a woman at that time – to walk alone into nightmares on battlefields that had yet to even been cleared. 

During her 2.5-year odyssey, Hamilton lived amid destruction in places like Vimy Ridge, the Somme, and Ypres, capturing with grace the ruins of war. Moving from one site and unmarked grave to the next, she worked feverishly in harsh conditions with inadequate food, amid the unburied dead, avoiding looters and rats, sheltering in bunkers, and navigating collapsing trenches on land littered with unexploded land mines and shells. When her canvasses ran out, she painted on the backs of signs and whatever she could find to create more than 300 works, the largest collection of Canadian First World War paintings ever by a single artist. “I made up my mind that I could go where our men went under much more dreadful conditions,” the artist reflected about her responsibility toward those who had suffered. “I am proud to have commemorated, even in some small way, the deeds of my countrymen.”

European response to Hamilton’s war paintings was reverential, her pieces displayed together to large crowds in Paris. In recognition of her bravery, France awarded Hamilton the Order of the Academic Palms in 1922. This order of knighthood was as the highest distinction a woman could receive. Hamilton remains the only Canadian artist ever so honoured by France.

She gifted some of her battlefield paintings to veterans but, despite poverty, refused to sell any of them and dishonour those who served. She donated her canvases to the National Archives of Canada where they remain to this day.  “It’s for Canada I painted them, and Canadians will have them,” Hamilton said. “If I starve, the veterans shall still have these pictures.” Today Hamilton is celebrated as one of the most important Canadian artists of her time and was – unofficially – Canada’s first female war artist more than 25 years before the federal government would send its first accredited one overseas.

About the sire

A black type winner of the Canadian Classic Breeders’ S. and five races that earned him $764,645 on the track, Danish Dynaformer met and defeated 16 Grade 1 (G1) winners and 40 Graded Set Weights over the course of his racing career. He entered stud in 2019 and his first foals are 2-year-olds of 2022. He was sired by Multiple Graded Stakes Winner Dynaformer who sired 131 black type winners, including champions Americain (G1, won $5.6 million in purses) and Rainbow View (G1, earned $1.12 million on the track).

War Painter is Danish Dynaformer’s first-ever stakes winning progeny.

About the dam

Morning Tale was sired by Ireland’s Perfect Soul ($1.5+ million in purses from 22 starts with a record of 7 firsts, 5 seconds, and a third) and comes from a bloodline that includes Northern Dancer and Secretariat.

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