John Frederick Herring Jnr(Doncaster 1815 - Doncaster 1907)

Feeding Time


signed ‘J.F. Herring’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
36 x 50.8cm (14 x 20 in)

Provenance: Anonymous Sale, Christie's, London, 5 June 1998, lot 54



Feeding Time gracefully captures the tranquil rusticity of a summer’s day on the farm. Three horses, one a beautiful chestnut mare, stand placidly beneath the shade of an oak tree as an inquisitive group of pigs forage around their hooves. The same composition can be seen in another of John Frederick Herring Jnr.’s works. The chickens and a lone cockerel next to them peck enthusiastically, seeking grain or seedlings amongst the unkempt grass. The complementary positioning of the three pigs mirrors that of the horses and leads the viewer’s eye further into the picture towards a shallow, silvered puddle with yet another group of horses beyond that.

The scene is framed by the muted green tone of the trees and grass. Herring Jnr.’s use, in general, of a simple colour palette allows the dappled sunlight in the bottom right hand corner of the work to mingle with the green and create a sweep of colour from right to left, leading the eye towards two low-thatched outbuildings and opening up a wide vista.

Herring Jnr. was the eldest surviving son of John Frederick Herring Snr. (1795-1865). He specialised mainly in farmyard scenes, collaborating occasionally with other artists such as Alexander F. Rolfe. This was unsurprising given that he was married to Rolfe’s sister, Katherine. Known to the rest of his family as Fred, he signed his earliest work, J. Fred Herring, sometimes adding Jnr. to his signature. He began to exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1863 where he presented: The Farm - Autumn (1863), Farm-yard (1864), Watering the Team (1869), The Homestead (1871) and A Farm Yard (1872) among others. His clear love of depicting unspoilt English landscapes complete with their traditional farm animals, especially horses, is showcased in this present work.

Herring Jnr. continued to paint, in the tradition of his father, sporting and animal pictures, however, as his artistic prowess developed his style changed - he began to favour looser brushwork and a widening of his panoramas. The placement of farm animals at the banks of a stream or in a farmyard, were characteristic of his work.