Summary

This painting by the early sporting artist James Seymour is one of the artist's most sympathetic portraits. The sitter is depicted with a hound in a hunting field. An old label on the verso reads 'Paternal Ancestor (Russell)'; however, no precise identification of the sitter has been made. Given Seymour's associations with Newmarket, it is possible that the sitter may be a junior member of the family of Admiral Russell (created Baron Shingay and Earl of Orford for his victory over the Dutch at La Hogue; died 1729). Admiral Russell acquired the manor of Chippenham Park, just outside Newmarket. Seymour was passionate about racing and is believed to have owned racehorses himself.

The detailing of the costume, such as the firmly-tied breeches-lacings and the buttoned leather strap above the knee to keep the breeches from riding up, is painted with the artist's customary meticulousness. His very precise records of the animals, clothing, equipment and locale exactly fulfilled his patrons' requirements.

Further reading:
Judy Egerton, British Sporting and Animal Paintings 1655-1867, London (and New Haven?) 1978, p.45, no.48, reproduced pl.17
Tate Gallery 1978-80 Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981, p.41, reproduced

Terry Riggs
March 1998