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John E Ferneley Sr

 (1782 - 1860)
John E. Ferneley, Sr. was active/lived in England, United Kingdom.  John Ferneley Sr is known for portrait, figure, landscape, horse painting, hunting scenes.

John E. Ferneley, Sr.

Biography from the Archives of askART

An English painter specializing in horses, dogs, and outdoor sporting scenes such as fox hunts, "he is regarded as one of the great British equine artists, second perhaps only to George Stubbs."

He was first apprenticed until 1801 to his father, who was a master wheelwright, and then he was encouraged to take up painting by John Manners, 5th Duke of Rutland.  Pursuing this idea, he moved to London and studied under the sporting artist Benjamin Marshall.  While training with Marshall he joined the Royal Academy School.  His work was exhibited between 1806 and 1853 at the Royal Academy.  He traveled extensively in Ireland from 1806 to 1809, but returned to England to marry, and started working from Melton Mowbray.  Here he built his studio and later a house, Elgin Lodge, on the Sleaford Road.  Melton Mowbray was fast becoming a watering hole for the sporting fraternity and the place where modern fox-hunting developed in the late eighteenth century.  Hugo Meynell, a wealthy local bred his hounds to keep up with the horses and riders in their pursuit over hedges and ditches.  At this time riders began wearing the scarlet jackets which were to become traditional.

Ferneley's paintings depicted hunting when it was extremely fashionable.  Good horses sold quite readily for 200 guineas and most riders had at least ten in their stables.  His work became much sought after, his patrons including many Royals and personalities such as Beau Brummel and the Count d'Orsay.

Ferneley routinely was commissioned to paint the famous Quorn, Belvoir, and Cottesmore hunts.  The members all contributed to the painter's fee and then drew lots to determine the winner.  Ferneley specialized in painting "scurries", panoramic paintings showing a sequence of events. [1]  He befriended Sir Francis Grant and helped him with the painting of horses while Grant in return helped with figure painting.  In this way they collaborated on a number of paintings.  Ferneley's signature was done very delicately with a pin head in the wet paint and often hidden on a fence, stable door or in an unexpected corner of the painting.  His signature is easily differentiated from that of his son, John Junior, who normally signed heavily in black. [2]

Between 1810 and 1812 he visited Ireland twice more, carrying out a great number of commissioned paintings for wealthy Irish patrons.  He produced six children with his first wife (who died in 1836) - three of his children later became painters.

Ferneley kept a set of account books dating between 1807 and 1860; the detailed notes providing useful material for later historians. [3]

His paintings are in the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge, England; the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC; Paul Mellon Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Berkeley Art Museum, Oakland, California; Denver Art Museum: Berger Collection; and Tate Gallery, London.

The Melton Mowbray of John Ferneley by Major Guy Paget
The Account Books of John Ferneley by Major Guy Paget

Art Clyclopedia

Biography from Red Fox Fine Art
John Ferneley was born at Thrussington in Leicestershire. He was the son of a wheelright to whom he was apprenticed. Ferneley was first recognized for his painting abilities by the Duke of Rutland, who admired the paintings that he had done on some of his father's carts.

At the encouragement of the Duke, Ferneley went to London to study with Benjamin Marshall in 1803. He also studied at the Royal Academy and continued to exhibit there until 1853, including such painting as: Portraits of the Well-known Race Horse Glenartney and his Jockey, George Edwards, Painted for the Earl of Jersey in 1828 and The Cur, the Winner of the Caesarwitch Stakes at Newmarket, 1848 in 1849.

In 1804 he began to travel England and painted commissions in Dover, Norfolk, and Lincoln. Between 1810 ad 1812, he made several trips to Ireland where he painted many works for the Irish gentry.

In 1809 Ferneley married Sally Kettle of Gaddesby with whom he would have six children. They moved to Melton Mowbray where he built Elgin Lodge where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. Ferneley became known as one best sporting artists of his time and enjoyed a long a prolific career. His patrons included dukes, earls and famous personalities of the day, for whom he painted many portraits of foxhunters and foxhunting scenes.

Ferneley died at Elgin Lodge at the age of seventy-eight on June 3, 1860.

Benezit, Emmanuel. Benezit Dictionary of Artists. Paris, France: Editions Grund, 2006.

Hook, Philip and Poltimore, Mark. Popular 19th Century Painting - A Dictionary of European Genre Painters. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: The Antique Collectors' Club, 1986.

Johnson, Jane. The Royal Society of British Artists 1824-1893. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: The Antique Collectors' Club, 1975.

Mitchell, Sally. The Dictionary of British Equestrian Artists. Suffolk, England: The Antique Collectors' Club, 1985.

Wingfield, Mary Ann. A Dictionary of Sporting Artists 1650 - 1990. Suffolk, England: The Antique Collectors' Club, 1992.

Wood, Chrisopher. The Dictionary of Victorian Painters-2nd Edition. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: The Antique Collectors' Club, 1978.

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About  John E. Ferneley, Sr.

Born:  1782 - Thrussington, Leicestershire, England
Died:   1860 - Melton Mowbray, England
Known for:  portrait, figure, landscape, horse painting, hunting scenes