Artist's Biography & Works For Sale
John Frederick Herring Jr. was an English painter specialising in animal, countryside and farmyard scenes. He was born in Doncaster in the early years of the 19th century. Although most sources quote the year of his birth as 1820, there is some uncertainty around this. Records also show a child of that name born into the same family in 1815, but it is presumed that this was an older sibling who died before John Frederick Herring Jr., the artist, was born. However, John Frederick Herring Jr.’s death certificate, dated 1907, gives his age as 91 so the matter is far from clear cut. (It is also known that two babies from the Herring family, John Frederick and Sarah, were baptised together at St George’s church, Doncaster, on 22nd May 1821, which has led to the conjecture that John Frederick Jr. had a twin sister.)
John Frederick Herring Jr.’s father was the well-known sporting and equestrian painter John Frederick Herring Snr. (1795-1865). It must have been an eye-opening experience, and an education in itself, for the young John Frederick to encounter his father’s wealthy aristocratic patrons and be exposed to so much fine art so early in his life. Along with his brothers Charles and Benjamin, he soon developed a passion for painting. It was not unknown for the four of them, father and sons, to work together on a single picture. The Herring’s were certainly an artistic family. John Frederick Jr.’s sister Ann married Harrison Weir (1824-1906), who was known for his illustrations of cats and other domestic animals, and his sister Emma married William Biggerstaffe, another artist of the day. John Frederick Jr. himself married the artist Kate (Catherine) Rolfe (1828-1911), brother of the painter Alexander Rolfe (1814-1875) who specialised in sporting and fishing themes. The couple settled in Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire.
In 1836, aware of his son’s growing popularity as a painter (and the similarity of their styles and subject matter), his father decided to distinguish his own work by adding ‘Sr.’ to his signature. Indeed, some sources cite a major disagreement between the two of them over this. John Frederick Jr., however, developed a style all his own. He moved away from the formality of his father’s exquisite equestrian work, loosened his brushstrokes, and began to paint rural scenes and countryside views. Working in both oil and watercolour, he usually incorporated farm animals into his compositions and indeed sometimes assisted other artists (including his brother-in-law) by painting animals for them. His paintings were shown at the Royal Academy and many other prestigious exhibition venues during his lifetime.