Listed in 1 collection

Listed at 1 museum

Listed for 1 maker

Quick Details

Date of Production


Materials used

Paint, Wood, Canvas

Summary of Barnet Fair

An oil on canvas painting of a scene of the Barnet horse fair. Painted in 1858 by John Frederick Herring Senior (1785-1865).

Full description

A scene of the horse sales at the Barnet fair. To either side of the road horses are being shown to potential buyers. A gentleman driving a gig put to a grey horse drives towards the viewer and behind the gig is a Mail Coach.

Barnet Fair was founded in 1588 when the lord of the manor was granted a charter to hold a twice yearly livestock fair. It went from strength to strength and by the late 19th century was the largest in the country with over 40,000 animals being sold at each fair. The original focus was on horses and cattle. The fair still continues to this day but with its emphasis on entertainment rather than livestock sales. 

Artist profile

John Frederick Herring was born in London in 1795. Herring spent the first eighteen years of his life in London, where his greatest interest was drawing and horses. In 1814, at the age of 18, he moved to Doncaster in the north of England. He married Ann Harris and had three sons who all became artists, John Frederick Herring Jnr,  Charles Herring, and Benjamin. His two daughters, Ann and Emma, both married painters.

In Doncaster, Herring was employed as a painter of inn signs and coach insignia on the sides of coaches, and his later contact with a firm owned by a Mr. Wood led to Herring's subsequent employment as a night coach driver. Herring spent his spare time painting portraits of horses for inn parlours, and he became known as the "artist coachman". His talent was recognised by wealthy customers, and he began painting hunters and racehorses for the gentry .

In 1830 Herring left Doncaster for Newmarket where he spent three years before moving to London. In the city he experienced financial difficulties and was given financial assistance by W Copland , who commissioned many paintings, including some designs used for the Copeland Spode bone china.

In 1845, Herring was appointed Animal Painter to HRH  the Duchess of Kent , followed by a subsequent commission from Her Majesty Queen Victoria  who remained a patron for the rest of his life

Access information

This painting is in the care of the Mercer Art Gallery 

Swan Road
North Yorkshire

Picture credit

The Mercer Art Gallery