PROPERTY FROM THE WALKER COLLECTION
The following painting was collected by John Reid Walker (1855-1934), second son of Sir Andrew Barclay Walker, 1st Bt. (1824-1893). Sir Andrew amassed an enormous fortune in brewing, founded the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, and long supported charities in that great city.
At the time of his father's death, Reid-Walker (he was one of six brothers so they tended to use their middle names to help differentiate each other) was running the brewery at Burton-on-Trent, and had just built The Knoll at Barton-under-Needwood. The family houses went to the brothers who were living in them: his elder brother (Sir Peter Walker, 2nd Bt.) inherited Osmaston Manor, and his younger brother (William Hall-Walker, later Lord Wavertree) Gateacre Grange. Probably inheriting about £500,000, Reid-Walker leased a new house (Chestall) and it is likely that these years saw his greatest collecting. An article on Chestall House in The Lichfield Mercury on 12 November 1897 gives fulsome praise to the work he carried out to the house and policies, noting 'Mr Walker is evidently a warm admirer of the old school of painting, for the Indian red walls are covered with fine specimens of Turner, Muller, Morland, Nasmyth, Sir A. Calcott, J.F. Herring, Sen., E.W. Cooke, and Copley Fielding.' Works by 'Madame le Brun' and Gainsborough are also mentioned.
Although Reid-Walker was involved in the family business, he became better known for his sporting activities: he was an extremely good polo player and bred racehorses from 1902, having begun as an owner in 1893. Although never operating on the sale of his younger brother, Lord Wavertree, he was on the whole very successful and owned good horses in Dinna Forget, his son Dinneford, and Square Measure, all of which he retained as stallions. However, his best horse was Invershine, winner of the Ascot Gold Cup in both 1928 and 1929, though rather a failure as a stud. His obituary in The Times remarked that as an 'owner, breeder, and member of the Jockey Club [he] had been a staunch supporter of the Turf for over half a century...he will be long remembered as a true sportsman, whose influence was consistently exerted in the best interests of racing. No one has been held in higher esteem on the Turf and few have owned racehorses with a greater knowledge of the thoroughbred.'
This passion can clearly been seen in the works of art Reid-Walker collected, most notably in the exceptional collection of pictures by John Frederick Herring, Senior. A handwritten list, still in the possession of his descendants, suggests that he probably owned as many as forty works by the artist. Reid-Walker gave one particularly fine picture - the St. Leger winner Matilda - to the Jockey Club (to which he was elected in 1920, serving as Steward 1922-24), while a group of thirteen pictures by Herring were sold by his son, Captain C. Gwynne Reid-Walker, at Christie's, 1 May 1959, lots 53-66. Other works from the Walker Collection were sold at Christie's, 22 November 2006, lots 90-110.