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Creator:
John Ferneley, 1782–1860, British
Title:

Thomas Wilkinson, M.F.H., with the Hurworth Foxhounds

Date:
1846
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Support (PTG): 58 x 95 inches (147.3 x 241.3 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

Inscribed, lower right: "[....] | [....]"

Signed, lower right: "Fernelely"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1981.25.289
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
black | brown | dogs (animals) | fields (agricultural land) | horses (animals) | men | portrait | sporting art
Access:
On view in the galleries
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:5028
Export:
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IIIF Manifest:
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Thomas Wilkinson sits astride his bay horse in full and unchallenged supremacy as Master of Foxhounds (MFH) for the Hurworth Hounds, a pack in County Durham that his uncle founded in the late eighteenth century. The title of MFH was held in rotation among the members and was the most senior position, responsible both for the kennels and for leading the hunt in the field. John Ferneley’s painting was commissioned by fellow members of the Hurworth Hounds and presented to Wilkinson as a gift.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016
Ferneley's portrait of Thomas Wilkinson, Master of Foxhounds (M.F.H.), evokes the end to a good day's hunt. Still astride his bay hunter named The Squire, Wilkinson presides over his pack, the Hurworth Hounds, and converses with the dismounted amateur huntsman, Frank Coates. He gestures nonchalantly toward the patch of growth at the base of a tree that has apparently been the "covert" where a fox has been trapped, killed, and eaten by the hounds. The pack, exhausted after their fast-paced chase, lounge at the feet of the three hunters and their riders, while in the background other riders-some dismounted-approach over the verdant, rolling moorland to join their companions. Like Marshall in his equestrian portrait of the Marquess of Huntly (no. 49), Ferneley has placed his most important sitter at the apex of a wide pyramidal composition. Also like Marshall, with whom he studied, Ferneley is careful to convey the differences in social status among the huntsmen, which are made clear largely through his orchestration of the various elements of the composition. He has separated the canvas into two halves: on the right are the two huntsmen, distinguished as such by their upright, dignified posture and splendid mounts; on the left the working hunt servants, the Hoppers, father and son. The elder Tom Hopper, wearing a hat but no coat, stands in the near distance as he waits with two hounds and a smaller hunt terrier, Tip. Tom Hopper the younger is part of the central group and has laid down his whip in order to leash one of the hounds. Cleverly, Ferneley has chosen a pose for the young servant that mimics a bow to his employer, the M.F.H. The Hurworth Hounds was a reputable private pack, founded in the late eighteenth century by three brothers, Thomas, Lozalure, and Matthew Wilkinson. Originally harriers (dogs trained to hunt hare), the pack became foxhunters at the beginning of the nineteenth century, hunting in Yorkshire and Durham. The Thomas Wilkinson in the present painting was the nephew of the Hurworth's founders. Born Thomas Raper, he adopted the surname of Wilkinson when the mastership passed to him following the death of his uncle Matthew in 1840.

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 128, no. 51, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)

Sojourn at Home: Sporting Paintings from the Paul Mellon Bequest at the Yale Center for British Art (National Sporting Library and Museum, 2002-10-04 - 2003-03-28) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of South Australia, 1998-09-16 - 1998-11-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Queensland Art Gallery, 1998-07-15 - 1998-09-06) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1998-05-01 - 1998-07-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Arthur Ackermann & Son Ltd., The Annual Exhibition of Fine English Sporting Paintings, 1966, no. 1, DealerCat (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 94-95, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Judy Egerton, British Sporting and Animal Paintings 1655-1867 : A Catalogue : The Paul Mellon Collection, , Tate Publishing, London, 1978, pp. 249-50, no. 270, pl. 91, ND1383 G7 B75 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 128, no. 51, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Graham Reynolds, Posing on Four Legs, TLS, the Times Literary Supplement, Issue No. 4072, April 17, 1981, p. 445, Film S748 (SML) Also Available OnLine in TLS Historical Archive (ORBIS) [ORBIS]


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