Ben Herring Snr

A gentleman driving a tandem on the road to London

Oil on canvas: 27.9(h) x 51.9(w) in /

70.8(h) x 131.8(w) cm

Signed and dated 1828

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SP 4756



1806 – London – 1830


A gentleman of the Bridges family with his groom driving a tandem on the road to London


Signed and dated lower right: Benj.n Herring / 1828

Oil on canvas: 27 7/8 x 51 7/8 in / 70.8 x 131.5 cm

Frame size: 34 ¼ x 57 ¼ in / 87 x 145.4 cm



Colonel William Bridges, until 1897;

his son, HCB Bridges, until 1934;

by descent



Benjamin Herring was a younger brother of John Frederick Herring Snr (1795-1865) and shared his talent for sporting painting, but a promising career was cut short by his premature death, aged twenty-four, in 1830. Benjamin was a particularly fine painter of coaching subjects. In 1829, the year after the present work was made, he painted The Southampton and London Royal Mail coach (private collection)[1].


This painting shows a gentlemen driving a tandem, a type of dog cart which was developed in the 1820s as a more refined version of a ‘gentleman’s cart’. The height of the driver’s seat was elevated to give better control of the lead horse. This tandem is a ‘cocking cart’, designed for the owner to ride to cockfighting matches: the high seat also gave an excellent vantage point from which to watch the fights, on which wagers were heavy. Fighting cocks could be stowed beneath the back seat where the groom sits.


Tandem carts were much favoured by young bloods of the Regency period, being agile equipages ideal for fast and reckless driving, the sports cars of their day. A Tandem Club met regularly in Hyde Park where smart turnouts and the skills of the Whips could be admired. Herring’s crisp profile view emphasises the elegance of the tandem, the grace of the well-schooled horses and the easy control of the driver, who is probably a member of the Bridges family of Highfield near Southampton, in whose family the painting descended.


The information on tandem carts is kindly provided by Christopher Nicholson, Caroline Dale Leech and Rebecca Wilhelm.  


1806 – London – 1830



Benjamin Herring Snr was one of the nine children of Benjamin Herring (d.1871), a fringe maker and upholsterer of Newgate Street in the City of London, and his wife Sarah Jemima (d.1831), née Howard. Of Dutch descent, the Herrings had formerly settled in the Dutch West Indies and both Benjamin’s father and grandfather, Jan Frederick, pursued unsuccessful claims to property in Aruba in the Dutch East Indies, as well as to a plantation in Surinam.


Benjamin’s eldest brother John Frederick Herring Snr (1795-1865), who lived in Doncaster from 1814 to 1830, became a successful sporting painter, and this may have impelled Benjamin to take up painting horses himself. He made a number of accomplished horse portraits, racing, hunting and coaching subjects, which show his acute eye for the anatomy of a horse and for character in humans. Little is known about Benjamin Herring Snr’s life, as he died prematurely, aged only twenty-four, in 1830.  


[1] 28 1/8 x 48 in / 71.7 x 122 cm.

SportingBen Herring Snr