Williams & Son

John Frederick Herring the Younger

(British, 1815–1907)

<i>horses watering at a trough</i> by john frederick herring the younger

John Frederick Herring the Younger

Horses Watering at a Trough




Fred, as he was known within his family, was the eldest of J.F.Herring senior's three sons. Although he certainly assisted his father when the Herring's were living at Six Mile Bottom between 1830 and 1833, he did not accompany the rest of the family when they moved to London. It can be assumed that he did not wish to remain an assistant to his father and was keen to make his own way as an artist. This he successfully did throughout a long and productive life spent entirely in the Newmarket area.
Both his style and subject matter were much influenced by his father, and their both having the same initials has in the past led to some confusion in attribution. Many of junior's best work has frequently been given to his father. At the start of his career he signed his work J. Fred Herring or J.F. Herring junr, but once working on his own he reverted to J.F. Herring. Although the tonality of his work is far removed from that of his father, as early as 1836 the early Herring was adding senr to his signature. This presumably was to stop his son's work being passed off as his own, though there is no evidence that this was ever the case. It would appear that the rift between father and son was never healed, as there is no mention whatsoever of Fred in J.F. Herring senr's very detailed will.
Herring's Steeplechase does not depict any recorded race and indeed the rider's colours are not identifiable apart from the red with black cap of Mr Allan McDonough, the leading Irish amateur, riding the black horse with two white hind socks in the centre of the field. The scene was probably painted to record the increasing popularity of the sport and its date of 1845 was coincidently the year that a Steeplechase Calendar was first published.
Steeplechasing, riding across country in a direct line between two given points, is known to have taken place in the last years of the eighteenth century, but the sport did not become a commonplace until the 1830's when it was transformed by the introduction of the sweepstake principle, the marking of courses with flags, concern for the spectators and by the profits made by the local innkeepers. All these changes resulted in a growth from just three meetings in 1832 to sixty-six ten years later, the main courses being at Cheltenham, the vale of Aylesbury and Aintree.
Although the initial development of steeplechasing in the 1830's is pictorially well recorded there are few paintings of actual races from the 1840's and even J.F. Herring senior's well known Steeplechase Cracks, painted in 1846, does not show an actual race, but an amalgam of the leading riders of the day. There had always been some opportunity to the sport and Nimrod, one of the leading sporting journalists of the period, described it as having all the false excitement of gambling without it's fair chances; and all the show of hunting without it's beautiful spirit. Nevertheless, until about 1850 steeplechasing grew in esteem as well as in size, but the increasing number of small and ill organised meetings with few major ones starting led to a reputation of scandal and fraud and the sport did not recover until the founding in 1863 of a National Hunt Committee. By 1870 there were clear rules and a recognised authority composed mainly of members of the Jockey Club and especially those who were Gentleman riders.