Francis Barlow was the pre-eminent animal painter of his day in Britain and the first English artist whose paintings of birds could compare with those of the great continental animal artists. He is thought to have come from Lincolnshire but on the frontispiece to his Multae et Diversae avium species of 1671 he is noted as 'Indigenam Londinensem'. He lived and worked in London where it seems likely that he was initially apprenticed to the portrait painter William Sheppard (active 1641-60) and in 1650 he was elected a member of the Painter-Stainers' Company, by which time he had already become an accomplished draughtsman. Two years later he had a studio in Drury Lane and he had evidently already established a reputation as an outstanding animal painter when he was visited by the diarist John Evelyn in 1656, who described him as 'the famous Paynter of fowle Beastes & Birds'. His drawings were frequently taken from life and show acute skills of observation and a knowledge of anatomy.
We are extremely grateful to Dr. Bruce Bailey, Archivist at Drayton, for his assistance in researching the provenance of this lot.