richard green

John Frederick Herring Snr (Surrey 1795 - Meopham Park, Kent 1865)

  • John Frederick Herring Snr - John Kent, Trainer to the Duke of Richmond, on Newmarket Heath
    John Frederick Herring Snr John Kent, Trainer to the Duke of Richmond, on Newmarket Heath Full details

    BJ 86

     

    JOHN FREDERICK HERRING SNR

    Surrey 1795 - 1865 Meopham Park, Kent

     

    John Kent (1783-1869), trainer to the 5th Duke of Richmond, on Newmarket Heath

     

    Signed and dated lower right: J.F. Herring 1831.

    Oil on canvas: 21 x 39 in / 53.3 x 99.1 cm

     

    Provenance:

    H Arthurton, Esq., 1936

    Laing Galleries, Toronto

    Private collection, North America

    Richard Green, London, 1984

    Edward P Evans, Virginia, USA

     

    Exhibited:

    On loan to the Tate Gallery Sporting Room, 1936 (lent by H Arthurton, Esq.)

    London, Richard Green, Annual Exhibition of Sporting Paintings, 1985, pp.28-29, illus. in colour

     

    Literature:

    David Fincham, ‘The Sporting Room at Millbank’, Apollo Magazine, March 1936, pp.144-150, illus.

     

     

    John Kent Snr (1783-1869) was one of the most celebrated trainers of the nineteenth century. From 1823 until the late 1850s he was private trainer to the 5th Duke of Richmond (1791-1860), ADC to Wellington at Waterloo, who built up a fine stud and hugely improved the racing at Goodwood. Kent was the son of a Newmarket builder who had a house on Mill Hill and built the Rutland Arms. As a boy he was informally adopted by his father’s neighbour, Richard Prince, who trained for the 4th Duke of Portland. A skilled rider who could manage the most difficult horses, Kent managed Prince’s stable and paddocks before working as head lad for RD Boyce.

     

    Kent was recommended to the Duke of Richmond, who inherited the title in 1819, by Lord Dunwich (the future 2nd Earl of Stradbroke). He trained the Duke’s Gulnare, which won the Oaks and seven other races in 1827, and Elizondo, which won the Port Stakes at Newmarket in 1836. Several other prominent owners placed horses in training at Goodwood, including Lord Stradbroke, Lord Uxbridge, Colonel Peel, Charles Greville and Lord George Bentinck, whose early Turf career had to be kept secret from his father, the Duke of Portland, because of his huge gambling debts. Kent’s son, John Kent Jnr (1818-1904), officially took over from his father as Richmond’s trainer in 1841, though the two men worked closely together. He commented that ‘My father has often told me that he never knew a lot of noblemen and gentlemen, all of them owners of horses, who acted together more harmoniously for a considerable time than the above-named group[1]. Goodwood, with its beautiful setting and cordial host, attracted the cream of the English aristocracy for house parties during race meetings. John Kent Snr trained Rubini, which won the Goodwood Cup in 1833, supposedly owned by ‘Mr Kent’, but actually the property of the Earl of Uxbridge. In 1845 the Kents, father and son, trained Lord George Bentinck’s famous filly Miss Elis, which won the Goodwood Stakes and the Goodwood Cup in 1845, and netted Lord George a neat £30,000 in winnings.

     

    This painting comes from the collection of the well-known aficionado of the Turf Edward P Evans (1942-2011), a second cousin of Paul Mellon. His racing and breeding programme at Spring Hill Farm in Casanova, Virginia produced more than a hundred stake winners, earning him the title of Breeder of the Year in 2009. His horse Pleasant Colony won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1981.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


    JOHN FREDERICK HERRING SNR

    Surrey 1795 - 1865 Meopham Park, Kent

     

     

    John Frederick Herring was the son of Benjamin Herring, a London fringe maker and upholsterer of Dutch parentage, who had been born in America. The first eighteen years of his life were spent in London, where his greatest interests were drawing and horses. In 1814 he moved to Doncaster, arriving just in time to see the Duke of Hamilton’s William win the St Leger. By 1815 he had set up house with Ann Harris; his sons John Frederick Herring Jnr (1815/21-1907), Charles (1828-1856) and Benjamin (1830-1871) were all to become artists, while his daughters Ann and Emma both married painters.

     

    In Doncaster Herring earned his living as a painter of coach insignia and inn signs and his contact with a firm owned by a Mr Hill led to his employment as a night coach driver, a surprisingly glamorous profession where speed and skill were much admired. Herring graduated to be driver of the prestigious High Flyer which plied between York and London. Herring’s spare time was spent playing the clarinet, composing music and painting portraits of horses for inn parlours; he became known as the ‘artist coachman’. His talent was quickly recognised and he soon found himself painting hunters and racehorses for the gentry, among them Charles Stanhope and the Hon. Edward Petre. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1818 and in 1825 was commissioned by the Doncaster Gazette to paint the winners of the St Leger, which were engraved. This series and the series of Derby winners which followed in 1827 disseminated Herring’s work to a wide public. Around this time Herring seems to have taken lessons from the sporting artist Abraham Cooper (1787-1868) to address the technical shortcomings of having been self-taught.

     

    In 1830, Herring left Doncaster for Six Mile Bottom, Newmarket, where he spent three years before moving to Camberwell, London. In London Herring got into financial difficulties and was rescued by William Taylor Copeland, who commissioned many paintings including designs used for Copeland Spode bone china. His companion Ann died in 1838 and Herring subsequently married Sarah Gale (1794-1882/3). In 1840-41 Herring visited Paris by invitation of the Duc d’Orléans, for whom he painted several racehorses. In 1845 Herring was appointed Animal Painter to HRH the Duchess of Kent. There followed a commission from Queen Victoria, who was to remain a patron for the rest of his life. Herring spent the last twelve years of his life at Meopham Park near Tonbridge, Kent, where he lived as a country squire. He now broadened his subject matter and painted agricultural scenes and narrative pictures, as well as his hunting, racing and shooting pictures.

     

    A highly successful and prolific artist, Herring ranks with Sir Edwin Landseer as one of the most eminent animal painters of the mid-nineteenth century. Herring exhibited at the Royal Academy 1818-65, the British Institution 1830-65 and the Society of British Artists (whose Vice-President he became in 1842), 1836-52. He died at Meopham Park on 23rd September 1865.

     

     

    [1] John Kent, Racing Life of Lord George Cavendish Bentinck, MP, London 1892, p.344.

John Frederick Herring was the son of a London merchant of Dutch parentage, who had been born in America. The first eighteen years of his life were spent in London, where his greatest interests were drawing and horses. In 1814 Herring moved to Doncaster, arriving just in time to see the Duke of Hamilton's William win the St. Leger. By 1815 he had married Ann Harris; his sons John Frederick Herring Junior, Charles and Benjamin were all to become artists, while his daughters Ann and Emma both married painters.


In Doncaster, Herring earned his living as a painter of coach insignia and inn signs and his contact with a firm owned by a Mr Wood led to his subsequent employment as a night coach driver. Herring’s spare time was spent painting portraits of horses for inn parlours and he became known as the `artist coachman'. Herring's talent was quickly recognised and he soon found himself painting hunters and racehorses for the gentry.


In 1830, Herring left Doncaster for Newmarket, where he spent three years before moving to London. During this time, he may have received tuition from Abraham Cooper. In London, Herring got into financial difficulties and was rescued by W T Copeland, who commissioned many paintings including designs used for Copeland Spode bone china. In 1840-41, Herring visited Paris by invitation of the Duc d'Orléans, for whom he painted several pictures. In 1845, Herring was appointed Animal Painter to HRH the Duchess of Kent, followed by a commission from Queen Victoria, who was to remain a patron for the rest of his life.


Herring spent the last twelve years of his life at Meopham Park near Tonbridge, where he lived as a country squire. He now broadened his subject matter and painted agricultural scenes and narrative pictures, as well as his better known works of hunting, racing and shooting. A highly successful and prolific artist, Herring ranks with Sir Edwin Landseer as one of the most eminent animal painters of the mid nineteenth century. His paintings were very popular and many were engraved, including his thirty-three winners of the St Leger and his twenty-one winners of the Derby. Herring exhibited at the Royal Academy 1818-65, the British Institution 1830-65 and the Society of British Artists (whose Vice-President he became in 1842), 1836-52.


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