Jacques-Laurent Agasse 1767-1849

Jacques-Laurent Agasse was an animal and landscape painter from Switzerland. He was born into a patrician family of Huguenot origin, Agasse trained in Geneva before moving to Paris in 1786 to complete his artistic education in the studio of Jacques-Louis David. He also used this period to study animal anatomy and dissection, a practice which is abundantly clear in the physiological accurancy and precision of his later works. With the outbreak of the French Revolution, Agasse was forced to return to Geneva in 1789, before moving permanently to London in 1800 where he quickly established himself as a leading sporting painter. 

 

Agasse painted a series of pictures on the Stratfield Saye estate in Hampshire for George Pitt, 2nd Baron Rivers (1751-1828). Rivers, an enthusiastic breeder of both horses and greyhounds and a devoted racer, had first met the Swiss painter in Geneva in 1789 and had encouraged his move to England. Lord Rivers became one of Agasse's most important patrons during the painter's early years in Britain, commissioning from the artist a number of paintings of horses on his stud farm and of his beloved greyhounds. 

 

Much is said of Agasse's extreme devotion to art, his extensive knowledge of anatomy and of his fondness of English racehorses and depicting them. He appears first in the Academy catalogues in 1801 as the exhibitor of the 'Portrait of a Horse', and continued to exhibit more or less until 1845.