After George Stubbs, Sawrey Gilpin is generally considered to be the most talented horse painter of the late 18th Century. The present picture and the following lot are very fine examples of his work.
Gilpin was born at Scaleby Castle, near Carlisle: his father and older brother William were both amateur artists, and the latter was to become a theorist on the picturesque. Sent to London in 1747, Gilpin was apprenticed to Samuel Scott, 1749-56, who lived in Covent Garden: this environment inspired Gilpin's passion for drawing the horses which brought supplies to the market. It appears to have been this practice which caught the attention of Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, who became one of the artist's earliest and most loyal patrons - several key works by the artist remain in The Royal Collection. Other important patrons included Colonel Thornton and, later,muel Whitbread, M.P.
In addition to his own output Gilpin collaborated as animal painter with a number of leading artists of the day, including George Barrett, William Marlow, George Romney, Henry Walton and John Zoffany. A picture exhibited at the Royal Academy by Turner in 1795 (no. 325) was titled Sunny Morning. The cattle by S. Gilpin, R.A.. Gilpin's pupils included Thomas Gooch and his son-in-law George Garrard.