Herring, John Frederick (DNB00)

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HERRING, JOHN FREDERICK (1795–1865), animal-painter, was born in Surrey in 1795. Herring spent the first eighteen years of his life in the city of London, where his father, an American whose parents were Dutch, was a fringe-maker in Newgate Street. As a child he showed an aptitude for handling both whip and pencil. Having married against his father's wishes, he went, without settled plans, to Doncaster, where he arrived during the races in September 1814, and saw the Duke of Hamilton's horse William win the St. Leger. The sight inspired him to attempt the art of animal-painting, in which he subsequently excelled. At first he did not succeed as an animal-painter, but executed some satisfactory work in coach-painting, which led him to aspire to drive a coach. For two years he drove the ‘Nelson’ coach from Wakefield to Lincoln. He was afterwards transferred to the Doncaster and Halifax coach. While he was engaged on that road, his artistic powers, which he continually exercised, were discovered and appreciated, and he received many commissions to paint horses for gentlemen in the neighbourhood. In spite of increasing success as a painter of horses, he refused to hurriedly abandon his calling as coachman, and for some time drove the ‘Highflyer’ coach between London and York. When eventually he retired from the road and settled at Doncaster, he immediately obtained very numerous commissions. It was as the portrait-painter of racehorses that Herring earned his especial fame, and no great breeder or owner of racehorses is without some treasured production of Herring's brush. He painted Filho da Puta, the winner of the St. Leger in 1815, and for the following thirty-two years painted each winner in succession. He painted Mameluke, the winner of the Derby in 1827, and several other winners in later years. Herring had no education in art until he definitely set up as an artist, when he worked for a short time in the studio of Abraham Cooper, R.A. He painted an immense number of racing, coaching, and other sporting subjects, many of which were published by the sporting printsellers and the sporting magazines. He was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy and the Society of British Artists; he was elected a member of the latter society in 1841. In 1830 he quitted Doncaster, and after residing some time near Newmarket, removed to Camberwell, London. He finally resided at Meopham Park, near Tunbridge Wells, where he died 23 Sept. 1865. Towards the close of his career Herring painted various subject-pictures, some of which have been engraved. In the National Gallery there is ‘A Frugal Meal,’ formerly in the Vernon Collection (engraved by J. Burnet and E. Hacker); in the Glasgow Gallery ‘A Group of Ducks’ and ‘The Deerstalker;’ and in the National Gallery at Dublin ‘A Black Horse drinking from a Trough.’ Herring, who painted several horses for the queen, was appointed animal-painter to the Duchess of Kent. He was somewhat vain of his powers, and thus lost some support in his later days. His musical talent was worthy of note. He had three sons, John Frederick, Charles, and Benjamin, who followed their father's profession. Charles died in 1856, and Benjamin in 1871. A portrait of Herring engraved by J. B. Hunt, after W. Betham, was prefixed to a memoir published in 1848.

[Memoir of J. F. Herring, Sheffield, 1848; Art Journal, 1865, p. 328; Sporting Magazine, November 1865; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists.]

L. C.