John Ferneley (Thrussington 1782-1860 Melton Mowbray)
John Ferneley (Thrussington 1782-1860 Melton Mowbray)

Equestrian portraits of Sir Francis Mackenzie, 5th Bt., of Gairloch, with Mr Mackenzie, probably his brother

John Ferneley (Thrussington 1782-1860 Melton Mowbray)
Equestrian portraits of Sir Francis Mackenzie, 5th Bt., of Gairloch, with Mr Mackenzie, probably his brother
signed and dated 'J. Ferneley / Melton Mowbray / 1829' (lower left)
oil on canvas
41 ¼ x 57 ¾ in. (112.4 x 146.7 cm.)
Commissioned by Sir Francis Mackenzie (1798-1843), 1828.
with Howard Young Galleries, New York.
Alfred H. Caspary, New York and Bonnie Doon, Ritter, South Carolina; (†) Parke-Bernet, New York, 29-30 April 1955, lot 251.
Private collection, London, by 1973, and by descent to the present owner.
J. Ferneley, The Second Account Book of John Ferneley, 1824-33, no. 275.
M.G. Paget, The Melton Mowbray of John Ferneley (1782-1860), Leicester, 1931, p. 136, no. 275.
D. Sutton, ‘The Charm of English Sporting Pictures’, Country Life, 17 November 1960, p. 1163, fig. 2.
Sir O. Millar (ed.), British Sporting Painting 1650-1850, The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1974, p. 79, no. 109.
London, Hayward Gallery; Leicester, Leicestershire Museum and Art Gallery; and Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, British Sporting Painting 1650-1850, The Arts Council of Great Britain, 13 December 1974 – 25 May 1975, no. 109.
London, Frank Partridge Gallery, Sporting Pictures, 1960, no. 35.
Sale room notice
Please note that the title should read ‘Equestrian portraits of Sir Mackenzie, 5th Bt., of Gairloch, with Mr Mackenzie, probably his brother’ and not as stated in the printed catalogue.

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Lot Essay

Sir Francis Alexander Mackenzie, 5th Baronet of Gairloch (1798-1843), was the eldest son of Sir Hector Mackenzie and his second wife Christian Anderson of Flowerdale, Wester Ross, and Conan House, Ross-shire. As heir to his father’s estates Sir Francis had an extensive education by a family tutor supplemented in Edinburgh by classes at the University. He studied law for a time and then was sent for two years on a grand tour across the Continent, during which he wrote a 56,000 word journal. After his travels, Mackenzie returned to the Highlands to learn how to run the estates that he would inherit. It was not until his father died in April 1826 that Sir Francis moved south to Melton Mowbray and took up hunting and steeplechasing, serving as Master of the Quorn. In a classified list of the best sportsmen at Melton between 1820 and 1830, Sir Francis was accorded a third class (in the style of university honours). At this time he met Kythé Smith Wright, the daughter of a local banker whom he married in 1829, the same year this picture was executed. The marriage produced three children. After the death of his first wife, he married secondly, in 1836, Mary Hanbury, with whom he had a son, Osgood (1842-1922), the creator of the famous garden at Inverewe, Wester Ross.

This double portrait, for which Sir Francis paid 30 guineas, is listed in Ferneley’s account book (loc. cit.) as ‘Sir Francis Mackenzie, Portrait of himself, Two Horses and Mackenzie Esq’. Sir Francis is the figure standing beside his horse to the right of the composition.

John Ferneley, Sen., was one of the most gifted painters of sporting subjects of his generation. His works are some of the most important records of 19th Century Sporting Britain. The sixth son of a Leicestershire wheelwright, Ferneley's precocious talent was spotted at a young age by the Duke of Rutland who, in 1801, is said to have persuaded the artist's father to allow him to become a pupil of Ben Marshall, himself of Leicestershire origin, who was then working in London. Ferneley studied and lodged with Marshall between 1801 and 1804 and was enrolled by him in the Royal Academy Schools. Ferneley's rise to prominence was fast, exhibiting his first picture at the Royal Academy in 1806. By 1814 he had set up his studio in Melton Mowbray, the hub of the fox-hunting scene with three fashionable packs - the Quorn, the Belvoir and the Cottesmore, providing hunting six days a week. Each winter an influx of 250-300 sportsmen, distinguished by birth, profession and intellect and unaccompanied by their wives, entered into a world devoted to the chase. Ferneley flourished with a steady stream of patronage and his work became increasingly desirable. His patrons included many of the famous sportsmen of the day, and members of some of the most prominent aristocratic families.

Alfred H. Caspary (1877-1955) was a New York stockbroker, art collector and renowned philatelist, who owned a South Carolina Plantation, called Bonnie Doon, which he purchased and rebuilt in 1931 in the Georgian style. The original eighteenth-century house was torched by General Sherman's troops in 1865. Caspary sold Bonnie Doon in 1954, the year before his death, to J. Peter Grace, the head of the W.R. Grace Company. The 1955 sale included works such as Ben Marshall’s Lord Jersey’s Middleton (1825; Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria), Winslow Homer’s Mending the Nets (1882; Washington, National Gallery of Art), and other works by Ferneley, Alken, Sen., Herring, Sen., Wolstenholme and Landseer. His collection comprised not only paintings but also objects. In 1937 he purchased Leonard Gow’s collection of Chinese porcelain of which he bequeathed over 400 items to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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