signed and dated 'J. F. Herring Sen/1842.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
43 x 72 5/8 in. (109.2 x 184.6 cm.)
William Taylor Copeland (1797-1868), London and Stoke-on-Trent, commissioned from the artist.
Ronald Copeland (1884-1958), his grandson, by descent.
R. Spencer Copeland (1918-2002), Stoke-on-Trent and Feock, Cornwall, his son, by descent.
His sale; Sotheby's, London, 15 July 1992, lot 105.
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty from the above.
'Exhibitions,' Edinburgh Magazine, vol. 52, London, September 1842, p. 322.
'Selected Pictures,' The Art Journal, vol. 4, London, 1865, p. 172, illustrated with the engraving, ill. 6.
A. M. W. Stirling, 'The Whip and the Brush,' The Nineteenth Century, vol. 74, London, August 1913, p. 350.
C. K. Bayliss, 'Studies of Famous Pictures - Three Friends of a Temperance Society,' School News and Practical Educator, vol. 33, Taylorville, 1 January 1920, p. 272.
O. Beckett, J. F. Herring & Sons, London, 1981, pp. 48, 53-54, 158, 176, illustrated with the engraving.
R. D. Altick, Paintings from Books: Art and Literature in Britain, 1760-1900, Columbus, 1985, p. 124, note for ill. 93.
J. Johnson, Works Exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists, 1824-1893 and the New English Art Club, 1888-1917, Woodbridge, UK, 1993, p. 226.
‌H. Morris, Hand, Head and Heart: Samuel Carter Hall and 'The Art Journal,' Norwich, 2002, p. 199.
D. Donald, Picturing Animals in Britain 1750-1850, New Haven and London, 2007, p. 206, illustrated with the engraving, fig. 191.
London, Royal Society of British Artists, 1842, no. 521.
Stoke-on-Trent, Athenaeum, Townhall, 1854, as Mazeppa on the Wild Horse.
John Cousen, 1865.

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Joshua Glazer
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Lot Essay

This important, large-scale painting is undoubtedly Herring’s most ambitious work, marrying a subject traditionally the purview of history painters with the artist’s most important subject, horses. The present work is one of the significant group of pictures commissioned from Herring by William Taylor Copeland, M.P. for Stoke-on-Trent and one-time Lord Mayor of London. Copeland was also a celebrated porcelain manufacturer who took over Spode’s factory and developed a formula for fine bone china. Copeland and Herring met in London in the 1830s, when the artist was in a difficult financial position. Copeland offered the artist financial assistance and invited him to live on his Essex estate, where Herring undertook a number of pictures for his new patron. The relationship between Copeland and Herring was memorialized in Spode’s 'The Hunt' collection, with Spode using a number of paintings made by Herring for Copeland as the inspiration for the designs on these pieces.
The present work illustrates the tale of Mazeppa, a 17th century noblemen, as described in Lord Byron’s famous poem of 1819. Byron’s poem is based on a popular legend about the early life of Ivan Mazepa (1639–1709), who became the military leader of Ukraine and later deserted Peter the Great. The poem recounts a story told by Mazeppa while resting after a defeat in battle, reminiscing about his younger days and explaining where he acquired his horsemanship skills. Having been discovered having an affair with a Polish Countess named Theresa while serving as a page at the Court of King John II Casimir Vasa, Mazeppa is punished by being tied naked to a wild horse – a ‘Tartar of the Ukraine breed’ – which was lashed with a whip and set loose. The majority of the poem describes the traumatic journey of the hero strapped to the horse. The present work depicts the moment when the horse to which Mazeppa is bound sinks to the ground in exhaustion and is met by a herd of wild horses. The poem ends with Mazeppa being rescued and nursed back to health by a Cossack girl. Hubert Babinski has argued that Mazeppa's death-in-life experiences during his ‘wild ride’ are central to the poem's meaning and symbolic of the possibilities of human transformation and rebirth. While little-known today, the story was an important source not only for paintings but also plays, equestrian circus performances, music, novels, and eventually films.
The present work was described by The Art Journal in 1865, the year of Herring’s death, as ‘undoubtedly the artist’s most poetical and original composition’ and remained in the collection of the Copeland family until 1992, when it was acquired at auction by the Gettys.

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