Herring was a self-taught artist who is perhaps best known as a painter of race-horses. Between 1815 and 1849 he portrayed many of the winners of the classic races of the time. However, in the latter part of his career, his subject-matter changed - perhaps under the influence of Sir Edwin Landseer (1803-1874) - from conventional equestrian portraits to sentimental depictions of domestic animals in farmyards or stables. These later works, such as 'The Frugal Meal', are amongst his most original and sensitive pictures. Herring adopted the format of closely grouped horses' heads for several compositions in the 1840s. The horses were often shown drinking or eating at a manger, accompanied by birds or other small creatures.