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First Posted: Jan 13, 2008
Sep 1, 2013

Benjamin Marshall

BBC/Slideshow of Benjamin Marshall's sport paintings

Benjamin Marshall
British, 1768 - 1835

"Marshall was born in Seagrave, Leicestershire, on 8 November 1768, the fifth of the seven children of Charles and Elizabeth Marshall. Nothing is known about the occupation of his parents or about his schooling. In 1789 he married Mary Saunders of Ratby, who bore him four sons (two of whom died young) and three daughters. Described in 1791 as being a schoolmaster, he left for London the same year to study painting with the portraitist Lemuel Francis Abbott, with whom, however, he stayed only briefly. He is reputed to have taken up animal painting as a result of his seeing Sawrey Gilpin's Death of a Fox at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1793.

Marshall first published an engraving of one of his pictures in the Sporting Magazine in 1796 (his work continued to appear there throughout his career, and sixty engravings had been published by 1832). In these early years he secured royal as well as aristocratic patronage. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1800 and showed sporadically thereafter until 1819, chiefly portraits of racehorses and their owners; but he is reported to have despised the Royal Academy and its politics and never became an Academician. In 1801 he took in John Ferneley as an apprentice for three years. Although highly successful in London, from 1812 until 1825 Marshall lived in Norfolk, close to Newmarket, so that he could study the finest racehorses with greater ease.

In 1819 he suffered severe injuries in a coaching accident; although it has been argued that this seriously impaired the quality of his later work, there is visual evidence that this was not so, and in 1820 he was sufficiently active to build a new painting room for himself at Newmarket. From 1821 he was racing correspondent of the Sporting Magazine under the pseudonym Observator. He returned to London in 1825 and settled in Bethnal Green, where he died on 24 July 1835. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published, or to be published, in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]"

It should be noted that Benjamin Marshall was a follower of George Stubbs and was a sporting painter. Marshall studied under L.F. Abbot, briefly. Benjamin Marshall had a number of pupils including Lambert Marshall, John Ferneley, and Abraham Cooper. Benjamin Marshall was one of the most accomplished British sporting painters, perhaps second only to the incomparable George Stubbs.


Race Horse and Trainer


Thomas Oldaker


Thomas Mellish

Thomas Mellish biography: "An English painter. As the short span of his dates suggests, very little is known about Mellish. All information about him comes from exhibition records. He first featured in the 1761 exhibition of the Society of Artists, with whom he exhibited a pair of marine pictures. He continued to exhibit regularly with the Society until 1778. All of these works were seascapes, many featuring interesting lighting and atmospheric effects such as the 'Moonlight Scene' of 1763 or the 'Moonlight View with Shipping' exhibited in 1766. The National Maritime Museum, London, has a work set during the daytime showing a calm but busy scene of 'Shipping off Woolwich.' In this painting, Mellish has combined a simple riverscape with genre elements popular at the time. The skilful representation of the water, the distant village and church catching the sun on the southern bank of the Thames, and the finely observed ships, are joined by the slightly incongruous presence of two peasants at a stile watching the scene. Although Mellish recorded scenes along the southern English coast, his exhibitor's address in 1761 was given as Hoxton Square, London. Nothing further has been recorded of him."


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