SAWREY GILPIN (Carlisle 1733 – Brompton 1807)
Sheep by a Cottage
signed with initials S.G. in the lower right
pencil, gray wash, and brown ink on beige paper
4 x 6 inches (10.6 x 15.5 cm.)
By descent in the artist’s family until the present time
Sawrey Gilpin was one of the most renowned artists specializing in animal painting of his day. Gilpin’s first drawing lessons came from his father the amateur artist Captain John Bernard Gilpin. In May 1749 he was apprenticed to Samuel Scott in Covent Garden with whom he remained for nine years. He is recorded as having assisted Scott in some of his works and spent much of his time sketching the horses and carts in Covent Garden Market; it was these sketches that won him the patronage of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.
From this point on Gilpin’s career steadily escalated. He was elected as an Associate Royal Academician in 1795 and a Royal Academician the following year. All of his Royal Academy exhibits were paintings of animals of one type or another in which horses and sporting dogs predominated.
Gilpin collaborated on many pictures with a wide variety of artists, frequently helping and teaching them to paint animals. One such artist was Joseph Mallord William Turner. Beneath the entry for a picture entitled Sunday Morning by Turner (exhibited Royal Academy 1799) is added “cattle by S. Gilpin, R.A.” Other artists with whom he collaborated included Philip Reinagle, George Garrad, George Romney, William Hodges, Johann Zoffany, George Barratt, and Richard Cosway.