George Stubbs (1724-1806)
George Stubbs, one of the masters of British sporting art, is best known for his paintings of animals (particularly horses), people and landscapes. His first love was anatomy and his precise dissections were recorded in detail. His “Anatomy of the Horse” was published in 1776 and gave him the reputation as the finest equine painter of his time. This knowledge was then translated into his artwork which remains unrivalled even today. His position now established, he painted the most famous horses in Europe.
Ben Marshall (1768 – 1834)
Benjamin Marshall was born at Seagrave in Leicestershire. He worked initially as a schoolmaster, and seems not to have taken up painting until about 1790. He was introduced in the following year to William Pochin Esq, the local member of parliament, who in turn introduced him to his first Master, the portrait painter Lemuel Francis Abbot.
Marshall’s progress was rapid. He first exhibited at the RA in 1793 – and by the middle of the 1790s he was being patronised by HRH The Prince of Wales.
Marshall was at his artistic peak in the years 1798 to 1818, and many of his finest works were painted at the turn of the century. The paintings produced from his brush during this period rank with the very greatest works of the English School of animal painting. In 1801 Marshall took on John Ferneley as a pupil.
John Ferneley Senior (1782-1860)
Ferneley was the son of a wheelwright, born in Leicestershire in 1782. Ferneley first worked as a coach painter until his ability was recognised by the Duke of Rutland, whereupon his father was persuaded to apprentice him to Ben Marshall who enrolled him at the RA Schools.
Ferneley painted many of his famous pictures of the Quorn Hunt on his return to Leicestershire in about 1805. In 1810 he established himself in Melton Mowbray, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Many of Ferneley’s finest paintings date from the period 1810-1850. His use of colour was excellent.
John Frederick Herring Senior (1790-1865)
Born in Blackfriars, Herring was born into a large family of painters. Herring first worked as a coach painter, before embarking on a career as a young coachman on the mail coaches between Doncaster and London. After a few years he turned to painting hunters and racehorses for the local gentry.
He first exhibited at the RA in 1818. In 1845 he was appointed painter for the Duchess of Kent. This was to be followed by a commission from Queen Victoria who was to remain a patron for the rest of his life.
Herring’s work is of a consistently high quality, possibly because he destroyed his lesser works. At his best his paintings of horses are strong, powerful
Sir Alfred Munnings (1878-1959)
Sir Alfred Munnings spent his formative years in East Anglia where he grew up on the family mill.
His artistic talents were encouraged and at the age of 21 his paintings had been accepted by the Royal Academy who were later to elect him as their President.
Even the loss of his right eye in his 20s did not deter him and Sir Alfred Munnings went on to be one of the most talented sporting artists of our time.