John Frederick Herring Snr,.

Getting to Know:

John Frederick Herring Snr,.

12 September, 1795 - 23 September, 1865

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The artistic career of John Frederick Herring I did not begin in the studio, or at an art academy. Instead, Herring’s road to becoming one of the most renowned equestrian painters of his time began at the Doncaster coach depot.

The son of an American-born fringe maker, Herring spent most of his childhood in London, before moving to Doncaster at the age of 18. In 1814, shortly after his arrival there, the young Herring passed the local coach depot on one of his walks through the town. Looking in, he saw a coach painter having great difficulty painting the horse on the crest on the side of the coach. Herring stopped and offered to help, and did such a good job that he was asked to paint the crests on a new coach, The Royal Forrester. Having made connections within the coach firm, Herring soon learned that the driver of the Wakefield to London Coach was leaving his position. Herring applied and got the job. Working both as a coach driver and as a painter of signs for inns and coach insignia, Herring earned himself the moniker of the ‘artist coachman’.

Word of Herring’s skill as a horse painter spread, and the artist soon received commissions from a range of wealthy and aristocratic patrons, including William Taylor Copeland (1797-1868), the Duchess of Kent (1788-1861), and Queen Victoria (1819-1901). He added the letters "SR" (senior) to his signature in 1836, with the growing fame of his teenage son John Frederick Herring Jr., who also became known for his equestrian paintings. Herring gained significant acclaim for his talent in painting racehorses, portraying numerous winners of the famous races of the day. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1818, and went on to show twenty-eight pictures there over his lifetime. In the later years of his career, Herring's artistic style evolved, possibly influenced by Sir Edwin Landseer, as his output shifted from the formal horse portraits for which he had become renowned to more sentimental depictions of domestic animals in farmyards or stables.

In 1853, Herring moved to Meopham Park in Kent, and there the artist moved away from horse portraits entirely, instead spending his final years painting a wider variety of hunting and racing scenes, and landscapes. 

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