John Ferneley I

John Burgess of Clipstone, Nottinghamshire, on a Favourite Horse, with his Harriers


Not on display

John Ferneley I 1782–1860
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 959 × 1397 mm
frame: 1198 × 1630 × 85 mm
Bequeathed by Mrs F. Ambrose Clark through the British Sporting Art Trust 1982

Display caption

This characteristic sporting portrait was commissioned by a committee of fellow-sportsmen for presentation to John Burgess (?1791-1842), a gentleman farmer of Clipston-on-the-Wolds, just outside Nottingham, which lay on the fringe of the Quorn country. Although Burgess hunted with the Quorn hounds, he is shown here with his own pack of harriers, dogs which were specially bred for hunting the hare.
Ferneley was born in Leicestershire, the centre of fashionable hunting country, and was himself a keen rider to hounds. Based in Melton Mowbray from 1814 until his death, Ferneley's work was much in demand from the wealthy sportsmen of the region.

Gallery label, August 2004

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

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

You might like

In the shop