The Duke of Rutland’s Hounds
by Lionel Edwards
Gouttelette, Open Edition Print
Paper Size: 20 x 16 ins (50 x 40 cm)
Image Size: 12 x 8 ins (30 x 20 cm)
This arresting scene is the work of a fine artist at the height of his powers. Lionel Edwards was widely regarded as being among the best sporting artists of his time; a keen huntsman for most of his life, he had an expert knowledge of field sports, and his hunting scenes were invariably accurate and evocative. This depiction of the Belvoir Hunt is no exception: Edwards portrayal of the hunts riders jumping into a field, as the hounds tear away in the distance, is a characteristically striking scene, with the unfortunate follower in the foreground undergoing an experience all too familiar to many hunting enthusiasts. The Belvoir Hunt is one of the most prestigious hunts in the country: dating from 1750, it has attracted such distinguished participants as Viscount Linley and the Prince of Wales. For most of the hunts history, the Mastership has been held by the incumbent Duke of Rutland, who also owns the hounds used by the Belvoir. This painting was executed in 1924, a time when Edwards was enjoying increasing success and popularity. Five years before, the birth of his fourth child had necessitated the pursuit of a larger house than the family occupied at the time, and he had found a beautiful Victorian house on the Hampshire Downs; the family rented this house for more than twenty years, before finally buying it in 1945. Edwards was often asked why he chose not to live in the more noted hunting regions of the Midlands, and simply replied: If I lived in a good hunting country the temptation to hunt would be so great that I should do no painting. Nonetheless, Edwards was constantly travelling around the country in order to hunt, and made a particular effort to do so during these years soon after the First World War. As is made plain by this remarkable painting, these efforts proved most fruitful.
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