Thomas Stringer was a Cheshire sporting artist who lived and worked in the small market town of Knutsford. He came from a family of painters; his two sons, Samuel (1750-1784) and Daniel (1754-1808), are recorded as having been skilled landscape and portrait artists. Thomas Stringer specialised in equestrian portraits and hunting scenes. He was probably influenced stylistically by Francis Sartorius (1734-1804), whose work he was likely to have seen through engravings. Indeed, misattributions of Stringer's work to Sartorius have been made in the past, not only on account of stylistic similarities, but also owing to misreadings of Stringer's monogram. Thomas Stringer often signed his work with his initials, 'TS', and a Georgian style capital 'T' was confused with an 'F'.
Flying Childers was bred by Colonel Leonard Childers of Cantley Hall, Doncaster, foaled in 1715 by the Darley Arabian (imported from Aleppo, circa 1704) out of Betty Leedes. He was sold as a yearling to William, 2nd Duke of Devonshire, in whose livery three of the figures in the present picture are shown. As Childers' reputation grew, the Duke is said to have turned down an offer for the horse of its weight in gold crowns. After an exceptional racing career, during which he was never beaten, he retired to stud at Chatsworth. The prefix 'Flying' was a soubriquet added later as his racing performances grew into legend. He is said to have covered nearly a mile in a minute during a match with Almanzor and Brown Betty, and to have covered the Beacon Course with each stride covering 25 feet. The caption Childers, the Fleetest Horse that ever ran at Newmarket is lettered under a portrait of him by Seymour engraved by Houston and published in 1755.
The present picture is based on a type by John Wootton (c.1682-1764), a fine example of which was sold in these rooms, 23 May 2008, lot 89.