Schwanfelder, Charles Henry
A Bay Horse in a Wooded Landscape
80 x 100 cms
About the Artist
This landscape and animal painter was born on 11 January 1774 at the Headrow, Leeds, the son of John James Schwanfelder, a painter of clock dials, trays, snuff box lids, and landscape artist of limited ability. Schwanfelder Jnr. learnt the principles of painting from his father and quickly developed a skill in depicting animals, particularly horses and dogs. He came to notice as a founding contributor to the Northern Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts’ exhibition in 1809 when he provided twenty-two paintings of a total of 202 items. The majority of his pictures were landscapes which were generally praised, but the waspish reviewer of the Leeds Mercury lambasted his painting of a fox for the "wooden appearance of his legs." The following year he was criticised for his landscape, "except so far as it may serve as a background to his pictures of animal life." Despite this local censure, the painter’s reputation grew and he attracted an increasing circle of patrons in Yorkshire and further afield. His first painting to be hung at the Royal Academy was of a Setter Dog in 1809. In 1814, his portrait of Malcolm, an Arabian, the Property of HRH the Prince Regent appears to have led to his appointment as Animal Painter to the Prince (and later as George IV) the following year. By 1815 his enthusiasm for landscape was taking him to the Lake District, North Wales and to Scotland, each area providing settings for his many animal portraits. In later years he exhibited paintings of bible stories at the Northern Society exhibitions. By 1835 his landscape expeditions were curtailed by asthma. Developing a disease in the windpipe, he sought help but after an operation on his throat in London he died on 2 July 1837; he was later buried at Leeds.