Catalogue entry


Oil on canvas 37 3/4 × 55 (959 × 1398)
Inscribed ‘J. Ferneley | Melton Mowbray | 1838’ bottom centre
Bequeathed by Mrs F. Ambrose Clark from the collection of the late F. Ambrose Clark through the British Sporting Art Trust 1982
Prov: Commissioned by a committee of gentlemen for presentation to John Burgess; by descent to R.S. Burgess, sold Christie's 12 December 1930 (140) bt W.M. Sabin, from whom purchased by F. Ambrose Clark by 1958; his widow Mrs F. Ambrose Clark
Exh: Tate Gallery, August–September 1982, and York City Art Gallery, March–September 1984, with other paintings from Mrs F. Ambrose Clark's Bequest (no catalogue)
Lit: Guy Paget, The Melton Mowbray of John Ferneley, Leicester 1931, Account Books p.145, no.456; [E.J. Rousuck], The F. Ambrose Clark Collection of Sporting Paintings, privately printed, New York 1958, p.101, repr. pp.83 (in col.), 100

This picture is recorded in the artist's Account Books as ‘Portrait of John Burgess Esq., on a Favourite Horse, with his Harriers, etc.’, commissioned in 1838 by ‘The Gentlemen of the Committ[ee] Presenting J. Burgess, Esq., with a Portrait of Himself’.

John Burgess (? 1791–1842) was a gentleman farmer of Clipston-on-the Wolds, a hamlet about six miles south east of Nottingham, where he was a tenant of Earl Manvers. Clipston-on-the Wolds is on the fringe of the Quorn country. John Burgess hunted with the Quorn, but here he is portrayed with his own pack of harriers, to which he acted as huntsman as well as Master. The ‘Gentlemen of the Committee’ who commissioned this portrait presumably hunted with John Burgess, who had himself earlier (in 1823) commissioned Ferneley to paint a ‘Portrait of his Son on Horseback’ (Paget, p.131, no.151). In T03423 the setting is probably the Wolds and the Vale of Belvoir.

There is a brief mention of ‘Mr. Burgess of Clipstone, Notts., who hunted his own harriers when he was not out with the Quorn’, presiding at a dinner given to Mr. Rowland Errington on undertaking the Mastership of the Quorn in 1835 (W.C.A. Blew, The Quorn Hunt, 1899, p.163). ‘John Burgess Esq. of Clipstone’ is recorded in the burial register of Holme Pierrepoint (a village near Clipston) as having been buried on 30 April 1842, aged 51 (information kindly communicated by Adrian Henstock, Principal Archivist, Nottinghamshire Record Office).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986