GRANT, After Sir Francis (1803-1878)
The Shooting Party - Ranton Abbey
[London]: [circa 1840]. Mixed-method engraving, coloured by hand, by William Henry Simmons. Image size (including text): 19 3/4 x 28 inches. Sheet size: 22 1/4 x 31 inches.
A fine image recalling one of the first great Victorian shooting estates.
Ranton Abbey estate in Staffordshire, England, was owned by the Earl of Lichfield. In the early part of the rich 19th-century, landowners vied with each other to create preserves for game, improve their coverts and produce ever large bags at shooting parties. The Earl spent large sums of money on improving his estate and during the 1830s held a series of great shooting parties which made Ranton a centre for Liberal sporting hospitality. Sir Francis Grant often shot with the Earl and the original from which this print is taken still hangs in the present Earl of Lichfield's house at Shugborough. The people pictured include the first Earl of Lichfield, Lord Melbourne, then Prime Minister, Lord Sefton and the Earl of Uxbridge. Sir Francis Grant was largely self-taught, primarily through imitating Velazquez. His early works were primarily to do with fox hunting, but, as demonstrated here, he had an exceptional capacity for portraiture. He painted an equestrian portrait of Lord Melbourne and Queen Victoria and this proved to be the beginning of an enormously successful career painting portraits of most of Britain's most prominent men and women, including the Royal family and several prime ministers,