Dean Wolstenholme Senior (1757-1837)

William Haslehust shooting partridge with his two favourite pointers
oil on canvas
24 ½ x 29 in. (62 x 74 cm.)

Dean Wolstenholme Senior is one of the more interesting sporting painters of the late Georgian and Regency Age. His fortunate position as the son of a wealthy land owner in Yorkshire afforded him the luxury of combining his talent as an artist with his love of country pursuits. An unfavourable outcome in a legal case concerning a property interest in Hertfordshire around 1793 forced Wolstenholme to focus his talent as a professional artist. It is interesting to note that his skills had previously been observed by Sir Joshua Reynolds who predicted that he would become a professional artist.

His talent soon surpassed many of his professional rivals, and his paintings were keenly sought after by sportsmen in the south of England. By 1803 he had moved to Herfordshire from where he entered his first picture into the Royal Academy. In 1805 he moved to London where he continued to be a regular exhibitor at the RA until 1824. His keenness as a sportsman and skill as an artist endeared him to many of his clients, whom he met in the field where in took part in foxhunting, shooting and coursing. His lively depictions of these sporting scenes in Essex, Surrey and Sussex brought him into contact with Colonel Joliffe, a prominent sporting art collector and huntsman, who kept packs of hounds in these Counties. Their friendship was such that Joliffe presented the artist with an amusing stirrup cup.

His work is simple and direct and the compositions are highly coloured in a way which appealed to the sportsmen of their day. His paintings illustrate his understanding of both his subject and chosen medium, placing sportsmen and animals in carefully observed landscapes recording the pastimes of Gentlemen like Mr Haslehust at leisure - flattering yet accurate. This work relates closely to a comparative painting of a similar subject with identical handling of both the figures and the landscape. Many of his paintings were engraved and enjoyed widespread circulation throughout England.

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