John Nost Sartorius

The Earl of Darlington Fox-Hunting with the Raby Pack: The Death


Not on display

John Nost Sartorius 1759–1828
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 711 × 914 mm
frame: 808 × 1010 × 70 mm
Presented by Paul Mellon through the British Sporting Art Trust 1979

Catalogue entry


Oil on canvas, 28 × 36 (71.2 × 91.5)
Presented by Mr Paul Mellon KBE through the British Sporting Art Trust 1979
Prov., Exh. and Lit: as for T02368.

In each of these four scenes [T02368, T02369, T02370, T02371], the Earl of Darlington is the most prominent figure. William Harry Vane, 3rd Earl of Darlington, and from 1827 1st Duke of Cleveland (1766–1842), was passionately devoted to hunting. For nearly fifty years he kept hounds at Raby Castle, acting as his own huntsman and hunting a vast stretch of land from south Yorkshire to Northumberland. In 1818 he successfully opposed plans for the first Stockton to Darlington railway on the grounds that it would cut across his coverts, withdrawing his opposition only when the line was diverted. ‘Nimrod’ relates that Lord Darlington hunted six days a week, and ‘had a change of clothes kept well aired at all the principal inns within his hunt, to the nearest of which he always repaired when the sport was over; and putting himself into a chaise and four, ready dressed for the evening, a small field-piece at the lodge of his part announced his approach to the Castle; and by the time he arrived, dinner ... was upon the table’ (C. J. Apperley [‘Nimrod’], Nimrod's Hunting Tours, 1835).

At the end of each day's hunt Lord Darlington recorded full details of it in a hunting diary, privately published at the close of each season. Sartorius's paintings are dated 1804–5. Earl of Darlington's Fox-Hounds: Operations of the Roby Pack in the years 1804–5 records that in this season he began hunting on 17 September and ended on 10 April, hunting ninety-one days in all, killing forty-nine foxes (‘23 dogs, 10 bitches, 16 Doubtful’) and earthing another twenty-four. The setting for the hunt in T02368-T02371 is wooded, hilly country, probably in Teesdale; the conical sandstone-capped hill called Roseberry Topping is visible in the distance in each scene.

At Lord Darlington's invitation, J.M.W. Turner visited Raby Castle in 1817; sketches of huntsmen and hounds occur in the ‘Raby’ sketchbook (T. B. CLVI). In Turner's oil painting ‘Raby Castle, the Seat of the Earl of Darlington’ (exhibited R.A. 1818, no.729, now in the collection of the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore), a foxhunt, culminating at the traditional ceremony of the kill, originally figured prominently in the foreground. The reviewer of the Literary Chronicle described the exhibited work as a ‘detestable fox hunting picture’. Despite his own unbounded enthusiasm for hunting, Lord Darlington himself seems to have considered that the prominence Turner had given to the hunt diverted attention from the view of the Castle. Turner accordingly repainted the picture after the exhibition, decreasing the prominence of the hunt (Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J. M. W. Turner, 1977, pp.90–1, no.36, pl.121).

Copies by F. R. Williams of Sartorius's set of four paintings (three signed by the copyist, and two dated 1811) were sold by Sotheby's 21 November 1980 (50, repr., two of them in error as Lot 17).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981

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