Alfred de Dreux was the leading French animal painter of his day, popular not only in his own country but also in Victorian England.
De Dreux was introduced to horse painting at an early age thanks to his family's very close friendship with Théodore Géricault (see lot 30), who painted three portraits of Alfred as a child. Moreoever, together with his uncle, from the age of seven onwards, Alfred frequently accompanied the older painter in his studio or on excursions to study horses in their stables.
Just like English artists such as Stubbs and Landseer, De Dreux had a profound understanding of equine anatomy derived from intensive study of his subject. His style is characterised by a lively, slightly nervous touch, which aptly renders the energy and shimmering coats of the animals he paints, and a rendition of landscape which owes much to the artist's close friendship with the Barbizon painter, Pierre Théodore Rousseau.