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Francis Sartorius 1734-1804
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Francis Sartorius 1734-1804

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A liver and white springer  spaniel sitting by a tree against which leans a flintlock shotgun


Oil painting on canvas 40 x 50 inches, and contained within a fine carved and gilded Georgian frame


Signed dated 1783; the gun lock inscribed with the maker's name and address: “Strand”


Provenance: …........with Lane Fine Art 1987; Ross Hamilton; private collection USA


Francis Sartorius was born in or about 1734 (he was recorded as aged 70 at his death in 1804), but the details of place, precise date and his parentage are unknown. There is a tradition that he was the son of one John Sartorius, said to be a sporting painter and a descendant of the artistic Sartorius family of Nuremburg. No documentary evidence survives to confirm or deny this. Judging from an autograph inscription on the back of a horse portrait formerly with Arthur Ackermann & Son, he worked initially for Thomas Butler, a dealer and artist, in Pall Mall, London.

Francis Sartorius was based for the whole of his life in London, where he maintained studios and lodgings at various addresses in Soho (he was living with his son J N Sartorius in Spur Street, Leicester Square, at the date this picture was painted in 1783). However, his paintings are far from urban: his entire output is devoted to recording sporting and equestrian themes in all their diversity.

Inevitably, given that his patrons were mainly Country Gentleman, he was itinerant, and seems to have painted in many of the counties of England, as well as being one of the first purely sporting painters to work in Ireland. He exhibited frequently at the main London venues, such as the Free Society of Artists and the Royal Academy. He was extremely prolific and has left us with an invaluable record of all the country sports during their Golden Age. His style is old-fashioned, and slightly wooden, but his works have about them a timeless and evocative air of charm.

He died intestate in 1804, when administration of his estate was granted to his only surviving son of his two marriages. His estate was valued at just £100: his great productivity seems not to have compensated for his inability to charge high prices (Sartorius was receiving 15guineas for a large canvas when middle-rank portrait artists like William Beechey were receiving 100guineas for a similar sized human portrait). 

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