We are riding mettled horses, high mettled horses,
We are riding mettled horses through the wind and the rain,
Through woodlands over meadows past the glinting yellow gorses,
We are riding on forever, we are riding not alone.
The woods are dripping water; the cold wind wraps our bodies,
We are riding we are riding we are riding not alone.
A.J.’s in the clearing and a gypsy’s there beside him,
The single visioned painter, and the black-eyed gal,
The colour on the canvas is the colour of the gypsy,
A.J.’s riding through a canvas he is riding not alone,
I see the hunt and Herring with his gentle landscape rolling
And the ladies gowns a flowing, who are riding not alone.
I am riding, I am riding through the darkness I am riding
Into canvas into colour, I am riding not alone,
In my dreams I will be riding through the thistle dotted hay field
And the standing yellow corn, through the stooks
and over rivers, past the mill with sails a spinning,
And the ancient wheel a grinding, I am riding not alone.
I am riding with my father, and his father and his father,
We are riding all together we are riding not alone.
There’s a man emerging darkly from his studio home,
He’s been painting ghoulish horses just to understand a bone.
Stubbs believes you’ll find it in the muscles and the form
So he’s studying the patterns, he is riding not alone.
I see you there, or am I dreaming. Whistle Jacket by his canvas,
He is eyeing up the stallion with an eye just like his own.
Jacques Laurent is down at Petworth sketching in the rain
The horses fine and dancing they are dancing not alone,
Jacques immortalizes movement, his eye to that has come
He has seen the horse’s canter he is painting quite alone.
There is Aldin, handsome Grant, Henderson and Leech,
Ben Marshall is a painting and they’re all riding home.
De Dreux is riding past me with a pistol in his hand,
His fine grey horse is dancing, he is dancing on the sand.
From church to church they’re racing in the middle of the night
The ‘Midnight Steeplechase’ became a celebrated sight,
The Alken family are there, Samuel, John and all
They love basculing horses and ride them very well.
There’s Rowlandson and Snaffles, Wotton, looks profound,
James Seymour’s watching horses from the doorway of his home,
Poppy’s painting Gilbert or the other way around,
They are riding they are painting they are painting not alone.
A sky is being painted like a palate of the mind,
The rolling moor is fainter; hills are delicate and fine,
There’s Lionel riding onwards, to the hounds his mind has seen
Another stirring image of the world in which he’s been.
I can feel the wind is lighter; the clouds are gone forever,
The rain has now departed and we’re all riding home,
The homeward road is darkening; I hear an owl a hooting,
The moon is riding in the heavens on the burro of his throne,
We are riding with our fathers’and their fathers and their fathers
We are riding all together, we are riding not alone.
We are riding through the darkness, through the darkness,
Through the darkness, through the darkness we will roam,
Our hearts are with our horses though the beat has gone forever
Only hoof beats are our breathing, we are riding not alone.
I could go on forever with the artists who painted horses for there are literally hundreds. However I chose a few who I admire. Sadly I’ve had to leave out many more.
A.J. refers to Munnings one of our foremost artists. President of the Royal Academy. Born 1878 died 1959, his had phenomenal energy and great love of horses. Horses were his world.
Jacques Laurant Agasse was born in Switzerland. 1767-1849. He was the only equestrian artist of his time who truly understood how a horse moved. His paintings have a quality of reality not seen again for over a hundred years.
Cecil Charles Windsor Aldin, 1870-1935, a huntsman and manager of the Remount Depot during the war, A.J. worked for him. His painting has great quality and shows a wonderful observation and record of detail.
Stubbs,1724-1806 was born in Liverpool on August 29th His father was a tanner with a flourishing business, which he assumed his son would take over. Hel allowed his son George to draw but it became a battle of wills which George finally won. He only wanted to draw and paint. He is not surprisingly well known for his anatomical drawings of horses and it was to animals and particularly horses that he turned his attention. He wanted to become a classical horse painter and in our eyes today he succeeded but it was not so easy in those. He commanded high fees for his portraits. He painted at Cresswell Crags and his Lion and horse series was much lauded and seen as classical animal portrature.
It was said that when Whistlejacket saw his painted image he tried to attack it.
Charles Cooper Henderson, 1803 – 1877, was known as the painter of coaching scenes. He was a superb horseman and also lived at a time when the mail coach became for a short while a very important means of transport, quickly overtaken by the train and the canal barge. He was born at Abbey House in Chertsey, Surrey, I lived at The Cedars in Chertsey. I feel we are connected.
Sir Francis Grant, 1803-1878, he was handsome and high born and so had immediate access to Royalty. He loved exquisite horses and also beautiful women, his sidesaddle portraits are renown. He loved to hunt and lived in Melton Mowbray great hunting country.
John Leech 1817- 1864 born in London. He was a great caricaturist and illustrated the ‘Jorrocks’ books. In order to produce the wood block prints of his work for the Illustrated London News, the blocks were divided up into small squares and handed out to wood engravers in order that the work was done in time. The work was detailed. His observations perfect.
John Frederick Herring 1795-1865 Born in Blackfriars in Surrey, son of Benjamin Herring, Dutch ancestry. He started a dynasty of talented painters. He moved to Doncaster, he was married by this time. He rose to become a very successful artist. He had to drive coaches during the early years to keep his growing family. In 1818 he exhibited at the R.A. His engravings of racing scenes made him very popular and his illustrations turned up in the Annals of Sporting and Fancy Gazette and The Doncaster Gazette. He moved to Newmarket and then to London where he spent seven years in Camberwell. He moved to Tunbridge and the Meopham in Kent where he died. My head of the Art School at Yeovil Tech was Nigel Herring a descendant of the artist, he taught me photography.
Benjamin Marshall 1768-1834, born in Leicestershire, he clearly had talent and was a schoolmaster. He was noticed and was given commissions. He also had a terrible accident when a coach overturned breaking many bones. His life seemed dogged by bad luck, his daughter being burnt in front of him when her dress caught fire. His paintings were beautifully observed.
Alfred De Dreux, 1810-1860 is one my favouite artists, he is famous for his paintings of women riding sidesaddle are exquisite, storytelling pieces. He also painted Napoleon III. Sadly he was killed in a duel in March1860.
The Alken family. 1717-1894 A large and clearly talented family mostly called Henry, Sefferian, or Samuel, so difficult to pinpoint except for the dates. Famous for being put into print and the recording the first Steeplechase in history. A race literally from steeple to steeple. This one was held at midnight on a full moon and so it became know as the Midnight Steeplechase.
Lionel Edwards 1878-1966
Born in Bristol, studied with Cope and at Heatherly’s. Worked for the army Remount Service. A terrific horseman and loved to hunt, visited Withypool as did A.J. Illustrated a huge body of works. His works have a delicacy about them and his observation of the horse is paramount.
Gilbert Holiday 1879-1937
One of the accomplished artists of his period. He studied at the R.A worked for the Graphic Snaffles and Edwards admired him. He worked as a war artist. Then he had a terrible accident from a horse and was paralyzed. He died of pneumonia; he was one of the greatest observers of horses. I think his painting Poppy Ginette is one of his most beautiful works.
Snaffles” Charles Johnson Payne, 1884-1967. Born in Leamington Spa. He did enlist in the army but was invalided out before the war began. His work continued as a camouflage artist in 1917 joining the RNVR. He was a great horseman and his prints show a sparkling sense of humour. He did many prints for Fores, his work becoming household property.
Caroline Baldock. © 2014