Charles Towne was one of the leading horse portraitists of his period and his paintings are equally admired for their distant landscapes, also rendered with delicacy and detail as shown in the present work.
Although the identity of the subject of this painting is unknown, it was probably painted circa 1794 as it is stylistically comparable to Charles Towne's portraits of John Yates wearing Old Windsor Hunt Dress on Ninety Three, a bay owned by Mr. Clifton which won the St. Leger in 1793' (1794; illustrated S. Mitchell, The Dictionary of British Equestrian Artists, Woodbridge, 1985, p. 26) and A Gentleman riding a dark bay hunter in a river landscape, (1794, illustrated op. cit., pl. 34). In addition, the use of the blue sash which runs around the shoulders of the horse and covers the girth (probably one of the earliest depictions of a martingale) was suppossedly first introduced by Sir John Lade about 1780 and had fallen out of fashion and use by 1800.
Born in Wigan in very modest circumstances, it is said that until the age of eight Towne had to satisfy his artistic talent by sketching on Wigan churchyard tombstones with an old piece of chalk. He later walked to Liverpool to begin his training and received his first knowledge of landscape painting from the Lancashire artist John Rathbone painting ornaments on buckram cases. After working in Bolton-le-Moors, Lancaster and Manchester as a copyist and then painting crests on carriage doors, he returned to Liverpool and became a japanner and pursued his ambition as an artist. He exibited his first painting in 1886 at an exhibition arranged by the Society for Promoting The Arts of Painting & Design, the forerunner to the Liverpool Academy. By the 1790s, he had established his reputation as an accomplished animal painter and after spending a few years in Manchester, moved to London in 1796. In London, Towne befriended George Morland and he was also influenced by de Loutherbourg's romanticised rural subjects. He returned to Liverpool in 1810 and became a member of the Liverpool Academy, where he exhibited regularly and was elected Vice President in 1812 and 1813.