Four Humorous Hunting Scenes
John Leech (English, 1817-1864)
Chromolithographs, Published by Agnes, circa 1865.
Provenance: The Jockey Club & The Fairfax Hotel, Washington, D.C.
All framed differently
Depending on the source, Leech was born on either August 23 or 29, and was the son of a coffee house keeper or vintner. While the beginning of his life may be unclear, there is no doubting the significant artistic contribution Leech left for posterity.
His early studies took place at Charterhouse where he met William Thackery with whom he was to remain friends for life. In addition to Thackery, Leech befriended many of the notable personages of his day including: Dickens, W.P. Firth, Ruskin and Sir John Everett Millais.
Upon completion of his early education, Leech took up the study of medicine at St. Bartholomews Hospital. This was a short lived pursuit; and at age 18 he began his artistic career.
Primarily self taught, he did take two "crash" courses: etching from George Cruikshank and wood engraving from John Orrin Smith.
Leech published his first book, Etchings and Sketching: Caricatures of Londoners in 1835. Five years later, he was hired by Miscellany, and then in 1841 by Punch. Through these two publications he firmly established his professional reputation. At Punch, he initiated a style of social humor that remained until the 1920s.
In addition to his satirical cartoons, Leech was well known for his hunt scenes. An avid hunter, he endowed the horses in his depictions with as much character in their expressions as the people.
Still enjoyed today, his illustrations provide a humorous and candid glimpse into mid-Victorian society.
He is listed in A Dictionary of Sporting Artists 1650-1990 by Wingfield, The Dictionary of British Equestrian Artists by Mitchell, and Dictionary of British Book Illustrators & Caricaturists 1800-1914 by Houfe.
Approx. frame size: 25" x 35"