Sartorius, John (DNB00)

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SARTORIUS, JOHN (1700?–1780?), animal painter, born about 1700, was the first of four generations of artists who had a considerable vogue as painters of racehorses, hunters, and other sporting subjects. The family is believed to be descended from Jacob Christopher Sartorius (fl. 1694–1737), an engraver of Nuremberg. The first picture of importance painted by Sartorius was for Mr. Panton [see Panton, Thomas] about 1722, and represented a celebrated mare ‘Molly,’ which had never been beaten on the turf except in the match which cost her her life. Among his other horse-portraits were those of the famous racehorse Looby (1735), for the Duke of Bolton; of Old Traveller (1741), for Mr. William Osbaldeston; and Careless (1758), for the Duke of Kingston. He showed only one picture at the Society of Artists, but exhibited sixty-two works at the Free Society of Artists. In 1780 he showed at the Royal Academy a portrait of a horse (No. 75); his address was 108 Oxford Street. Francis Sartorius (1734–1804), John's son and pupil, was born in 1734. His first important work was a portrait of the racehorse Antinous (foaled 1758), for the Duke of Grafton. Other horse-portraits were Herod (foaled 1758), for the Duke of Cumberland; Snap, for Mr. Latham; Cardinal Ruff, for Mr. Shafto; and Bay Malton, for the Marquis of Rockingham. Several of these portraits were engraved by John June, and published between 1760 and 1770. Sartorius was a prolific and favourite painter, and it is said that he produced more portraits of Eclipse during the zenith of his fame than all other contemporary artists together (Baily's Magazine, January 1897, p. 23). He was a contributor to the ‘Sporting Magazine,’ and in vols. ii–vi. (1793–1795) are four excellent engravings from his works, including the famous racehorse Waxey, by Pot8os. To various London galleries he contributed thirty-eight works, including twelve to the Royal Academy. He lived in Soho—lastly, at 17 Gerrard Street—and he died on 5 March 1804, in his seventieth year. He married five times, but his fifth wife predeceased him after twenty-five years of married life, in January 1804 (Sporting Magazine, April 1804).

John N. Sartorius (1755?–1828?), only son of Francis, was the most famous of the family. He was patronised by the leading sportsmen of the day—the Prince of Wales, the Earl of Derby, Lord Foley, Sir Charles Bunbury, and many others—and his pictures (some of them of large size) are to be found in many country houses. From 1781 to 1824 his name appears in the catalogues of the Royal Academy, and a list of the seventy-four pictures which he showed there is given by Sir Walter Gilbey in ‘Baily's Magazine,’ February 1897. The ‘Sporting Magazine’ from 1795 to 1827 contains many engraved plates from his works by J. Walker, J. Webb, and others (for list see Baily, February 1897). Some of his best known pictures are portraits of Escape, belonging to the Prince of Wales, Sir Charles Bunbury's Grey Diomed, Mr. Robson's trotting mare Phenomena, and the famous Eclipse, from a drawing by his father (see Sportsman's Repository, by John Scott, 1845). ‘A Set of Four Hunting Pieces,’ after his pictures, was published in 1790 by J. Harris, the plates being engraved by Peltro and J. Neagle. John N. Sartorius died about 1828, apparently in his eighty-third year. He left two sons, both artists. Of these the younger, Francis, was a marine painter.

John F. Sartorius (1775?–1831?), the elder son of John N., followed his father, with less success as to the number of his patrons, though his thorough knowledge of sport is exemplified in his sporting pictures. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1802, when he was residing at 17 King Street, Holborn. Afterwards he sent occasional contributions until 1827, the total number of pictures exhibited by him being sixteen. Several of his paintings were engraved in the ‘Sporting Magazine;’ but as his father's works were appearing in the same periodical, and John Scott was engraving for both, it is somewhat difficult to differentiate the son's pictures from the father's, particularly as many of the plates are signed ‘Sartorius’ only. One of the best known of his pictures is ‘Coursing in Hatfield Park,’ exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1806, and depicting the famous Marchioness of Salisbury, who rode daily in the park up to her eighty-sixth year.

It is not easy to identify the work of each member of the family. Many of their pictures are described in catalogues as by ‘Sartorius senior’ and ‘Sartorius junior,’ without initials. Sir Walter Gilbey of Elsenham Hall, Essex, is the owner of many pictures by the various artists of the family.

[Sir Walter Gilbey's articles on the family of Sartorius in Baily's Magazine, January and February 1897.]

E. C.-e.