Thomas Walker Bretland (Attributed)

Portrait Of A Field Master On A Grey Hunter In A Landscape

Regular price £2,295.00
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Thomas Walker Bretland (Attributed)

Portrait Of A Field Master On A Grey Hunter In A Landscape

Regular price £2,295.00
Unit price
per 
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This mid-19th-century oil painting attributed to British artist Thomas Walker Bretland (1802-1874) depicts a mounted field master before a landscape. It was previously at Sotheby’s.

As a boy, Bretland developed a keen interest in animals and would sketch every horse, dog and cow that happened to amble into view. One can imagine him excited to catch a glimpse of an engraving after George Stubbs (1724-1806). Inspired by the old English master and keen to hone his skills. His father, a coach and carriage painter, was less enthusiastic however and refused to support him. Leaving the young man to duck away into the attic and draw on the walls.

Instead, he was apprenticed in heraldic painting, which he excelled at, and presumably worked alongside his father producing designs for carriage doors. And, in 1837, following his father’s death, he inherited the family business. Being at the helm of such a business provided Bretland with ample opportunities to connect with the aristocracy. And it was thanks to the advice of one such distinguished gentleman, Lord Middleton, that he finally decided to pursue a career as an animal painter.

During the early 1840s, he produced numerous sporting works for the landed gentry, particularly in Nottingham. Hunting and shooting scenes were his raison d'être along with horse portraiture and depictions of prize-winning cattle. The racehorse owner JS Drinkald commissioned him to paint several of his winners, with other patrons including the Duke of Buccleuch, Duke of Montrose, Lord Chesterfield and Baron Rothschild.

Here in this piece from around that period, he’s captured a field master atop a grey hunter before a landscape. A dark and brooding sky adds a sense of grandeur. It’s likely to be a commission for the gentleman in question and probably once hung in a fine country home.

Today, Thomas Walker Bretland is represented in numerous public collections including at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Nottingham City Museum, and Shugborough Hall. He was described by the Nottingham Journal as a “man of retiring and unobtrusive habits” and “highly esteemed for his sterling uprightness and integrity”.

Held within a later frame.

Learn more about Thomas Walker Bretland in our directory.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 41” x 33” / 104cm x 84cm
Year of creation: c. 1840
Provenance: Sotheby’s, Chester, circa 1980s / Private collection, UK.
Condition: Assessed and approved by our conservator. Cleaned. Aged varnish. Historic restorations. The paint layer is stable. Frame with marks and signs of age.
Artist’s auction maximum: £26,000 for ‘A groom holding a saddled-up chestnut hunter, and a saddled-up bay hunter, in a landscape, with huntsmen beyond’, Oil on canvas, Sotheby’s, Important British Pictures, London, 1989 (lot 17).
Our reference: BRV1859

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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