Thomas Blinks displayed a proficiency in art at an early age and was sketching enthusiastically by the age of ten. However, despite this early display of talent, he was apprenticed to a tailor by his parents against his will. Unhappy with his intended vocation, the young artist ran away to his uncle and, following a family meeting, it was agreed that he would be allowed to follow his calling.
According to Sally Mitchell, ‘Blinks was one, if not the only, artist to paint several pictures of the Oakley that were reproduced as prints’ and it is likely that For’ard on, for’ard on was such a work. As mentioned in Blinks’ letter to the art dealer Arthur Tooth, the artist recalls the names of some of the Oakley hounds featured in the present work: ‘Rhymer (painted 3 or 4 times), Raglan, Feudal (once), Ambrose and Warrior (twice)’ and the landscape being that of Horsham in Sussex.
Praised by the Art Journal in 1887, For’ard on, for’ard on is indisputably the artist at his best and is one of the largest - and certainly most impressive – examples to have appeared on the market. Highly ambitious, with meticulously rendered detail, the artist presents the Oakley hounds in full action: hurdling over, through and around a fence, with the hunt and two older hounds, trailing behind on a freshly ploughed field. With traces of mud on their fresh, glistening coats and their heads emerging through the undergrowth and wooden bars, the competitive canine excitement is tangible. Blinks focuses the energy around the centre of the composition, creating the illusion that the pack is about to run out of the canvas and past the viewer, who has become an unwitting bystander witnessing the hunt on a crisp morning’s walk.
For the letter from the artist, please visit www.christies.com, or contact the Department for further details.
A letter from the artist, to the art dealer Arthur Tooth Esq.
To Arthur Tooth Esq
1 Hill Road
St Johns Wood
In answer to yours re “Forward on” the hounds were taken from the studies of hounds in the Oakley Kennels among them are Rhymer, Advocate, Raglan, Feudal Ambrose, Warrior, & I forget others
3 or 4 times twice. once
Rhymer Warrior & Feudal
Champions at Peterboro, the back-ground was from a little sketch I made at Horsham in Sussex, the picture was in the RA and well hung also highly spoken of in the press.
I am having a fine time this season & shall read, mark learn to all I see, that you shall have something fresh & good this year
Do you want a good hunting cob very quiet, very clever I have known him 2 season 6 years old & has carried a hard riding lady since broken in, she wants a good price but it’s a good safe covenance [sic] & genuine article.
Yours very truly