A painting by acclaimed Melton artist John Ferneley, who specialised in capturing foxhunting scenes on canvas, is due to be auctioned with a guide price of up to £50,000.
Under the title, ‘Portrait of Sir Francis Grant on Grindal’, the striking work was completed in 1851 as a collaboration between Ferneley and the subject of the picture, who was also a gifted painter in his own right.
It will go up for auction on Tuesday with the Essex-based Sworders fine art auctioneers with plenty of interest expected from buyers.
Elizabeth Arkell, from the auction house, told the Melton Times she could not reveal who currently owned the painting but she added: “Bidders are likely to be London dealers who specialise in sporting art and private individuals who have a passion for hunting.
“We are expecting it to sell for higher than the guide price because there has already been a lot of interest in the picture.
“It is quite rare for a Ferneley to come up for auction and we are fielding a lof of questions about it from people who are interested in buying it.”
John Ferneley Senior - his son of the same name was also an artist - is considered to be one of the two greatest British equine artists, along with George Stubbs.
His name lives on in the town 159 years after his death with John Ferneley College being named after him.
Born in Thrussington in 1782, he was the sixth son of a wheelwright and was encouraged to become a painter by John Manners, the fifth Duke of Rutland.
Ferneley built a studio in Melton in 1814 and then a house - Elgin Lodge on Scalford Road - where he lived as his reputation soared
He produced highly valued paintings of scenes from the Quorn, Belvoir and Cottesmore Hunts as Melton became established for sportsmen and members of the aristocracy as a hub for hunting.
As his paintings rose in value they were bought by people like Beau Brummel, an iconic English figure during the regency period who lived in the town.
Ferneley would often be commissioned to paint a scene with a collection of hunters contributing towards his fee and then drawing lots to decide who would own it.
Ms Arkell added: “John Ferneley Sr was arguably the most gifted painter of sporting subjects of his generation.
“What set him apart was his ability to pinpoint equine characteristics and to faithfully record the surrounding landscape.”
Ferneley, who exhibited 22 of his works at the renowed Royal Academy, met Sir Francis Grant in the 1820s in Melton when the latter studied under him after moving to the town due to his passion for foxhunting.
Following Grant’s launch as a professional artist in the 1830s, he and Ferneley frequently collaborated and the portrait due to be auctioned is an example of this partnership, showing Grant aged 48 with the face being a self-portrait by him.
The Sworders notes on the painting for the auction state: “The work is a fine example of Ferneley’s brilliance in rendering a remarkable horse portrait as well as his skill in conveying a sense of space and fresh air in the harmonious palette of the scenery, punctuated by the vibrant red of the huntsmen’s coats.”
Go online at www.sworder.co.uk and find the catalogue page for Tuesday’s sale if you are interested in bidding for the painting.