Alfred De Dreux is regarded as the leading French 19th century equestrian artist. He specialised in horse portraits and riding subjects almost to the exclusion of anything else and he won many prizes during his illustrious career.
De Dreux was born in Paris in 1810, the son of the architect Pierre-Anne De Dreux. His interest in art was fostered from an early age by his uncle, the artist Dedreux-Dorcy, a close friend of the painter Gericault, whose choice of subjects, notably horses, were to have a lasting influence on the young artist. During the 1820s he studied under Léon Cogniet, and his equestrian portrait of The White Stallion, exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1831, revealed the strong influence of Stubbs on his work, recalling in particular Stubbs's Horse attacked by a Lion (1770).
From the mid-1840s de Dreux traveled frequently to England where he particularly admired the work of Landseer. In 1848 he crossed the channel with his most influential patron, Louis-Philippe, the Duc d'Orléans. It is likely that de Dreux was brought to the attention of Queen Victoria through Louis-Philippe at this time, painting a portrait of the pair riding in Windsor Park. In turn, the Queen commissioned several works from the artist.
De Dreux passionately enjoyed participating in, as well as painting, equestrian activies and the present work and lot 21 are beautifully painted and particularly fine examples. A defined energy and movement characterises these works and he pays particular attention to the force and action of the equestrian subjects. In his own way, he gives the animals an idealised form.