The Adoration of the Shepherds
Department of Art after 1800
John Frederick Herring’s work depicts fox hunting, very popular in England in the first half of the nineteenth century. From the eighteenth century onwards, foxes were not only hunted for their valuable fur or to prevent overpopulation, but also for pleasure. In practice, this happened as follows: a group of upper-class men in full hunting gear, on horseback and with the aid of a pack of hounds, would chase the fox until it became exhausted and succumbed to being hunted down.
By the nineteenth century, the sport had acquired an increasing number of mid dle-class fans, in addition to the nobility, and it became the national sport of the English, despite its considerable expense. At the same time, the popularity of paintings depicting the event also proliferated.
This was a world close to Herring’s heart: he had first worked as a professional coachman (a respectable job at the time), then as a painter of trade signs for inns and equestrian portraits. From the 1830s he became a full-time artist, often commissioned by the English gentry to paint hunting scenes and portraits of racehorses. Even Queen Victoria took notice of him and became his patron. His paintings were widely reproduced, and it is likely that they also had an influence on the work of Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas.
Művészet és vadászat: válogatás a Szépművészeti Múzeum és a Magyar Nemzeti Galéria gyűjteményéből, p. 192-193.
This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.