Born in 1795, John Frederick Herring spent the first eighteen years of his life in London, before moving to Doncaster. In Yorkshire, he married and began to earn his living as a humble painter of inn signs and coach insignia.
Sketching equestrian subjects in his spare time, Herring’s talent was quickly noticed and he soon found himself painting hunters and racehorses for local patrons. He lived for a time in Newmarket, and then in London, where he may have been tutored by a well-known artist of the time, Abraham Cooper. In London, he acquired new patrons and was even invited to France by the Duc d’Orléans.
Herring exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1818 and 1846. His work was also shown at the British Institute and, most frequently, at the Society of British Artists in Sussex Street, of which he was a Member between 1841 and 1862. For many years, Herring was commissioned to paint the winners of the Derby and the St. Leger as well as many other famous contemporary horses and jockeys. He also painted many charming small-scale studies of rabbits, ducks, goats, birds and other animals.
Herring held the appointment of Animal Painter to the Duchess of Kent and a number of his works were engraved. Towards the end of his life he settled down as a country squire at Meopham Park near Tonbridge. Three of his sons; JF Junior, Charles and Benjamin, became prominent artists and his two daughters also married artists, ensuring that the Herring family is one of the most significant in the history of British art. Herring died in 1865.