Chickens in a barnyard
indistinctly signed and dated 'J. Ferneley / 185[?]0' (lower left)
oil on canvas
28 x 3534 in. (71.1 x 90.7 cm.)
Painted in 1830.
Presumably, The Late Mr John Ferneley, Artist, Deceased; William Shouler, Melton Mowbray, 27 September 1862, either lot 12 or 14 (listed in Paget, op. cit.).
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 3 June 1994, lot 99.
Presumably G. Paget, The Melton Mowbray of John Ferneley (1782-1860), Leicester, 1931, p. 158, either lot 12 (‘Poultry’) or lot 14 (‘Poultry, large’) [see above].
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Lot Essay

John Ferneley, Sr., was one of the most gifted painters of sporting subjects of his generation. His works are some of the most important records of 19th century Sporting Britain. The sixth son of a Leicestershire wheelwright, Ferneley's precocious talent was spotted at a young age by the Duke of Rutland who, in 1801, is said to have persuaded the artist's father to allow him to become a pupil of Ben Marshall, himself of Leicestershire origin, who was then working in London. Ferneley studied and lodged with Marshall between 1801 and 1804 and was enrolled by him in the Royal Academy Schools. Ferneley's rise to prominence was fast, exhibiting his first picture at the Royal Academy in 1806. By 1814 he had set up his studio in Melton Mowbray, the hub of the fox-hunting scene with three fashionable packs - the Quorn, the Belvoir and the Cottesmore, providing hunting six days a week. Each winter an influx of 250-300 sportsmen, distinguished by birth, profession and intellect and unaccompanied by their wives, entered into a world devoted to the chase. Ferneley flourished with a steady stream of patronage and his work became increasingly desirable. His patrons included many of the famous sportsmen of the day, and members of some of the most prominent aristocratic families.

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