Henry Alken (1785-1851)
Equestrian and hunting themes have long been popular within art and the subject has inspired a vast amount of pictures and prints. For at least three centuries artists have painted and drawn horse riders, in the midst of a race or hunt, to the delight of collectors. Few artists have been as prolific as Henry Alken in satisfying this demand.
Born in London in 1785 to Danish parents, Henry Alken studied art before developing an interest in country pursuits, especially horses, hounds and the hunt. Working in oils and watercolours with a keen eye, his pictures are both lively and colourful. The combination of realism and caricature is an individual style which delighted his patrons and the wider public. His work flourished in the early 1800s and through his engravings a large amount of coloured prints were produced to satisfy demand. This popularity has seen his prints reproduced throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century and a set of four oil paintings of the Belvoir hunt are included within the Tate gallery in London.
With so many reproduction prints produced, it is unusual for general antique auctions not to include examples of his work and prices have suffered over the last ten years. Golding Young were fortunate to offer, at the Grantham auction rooms, a collection of original nineteenth century watercolours formerly in the Goodacre Collection at Ullesthorpe Court, Leicestershire. Selling on the internet and in the room, prices averaged £200 each.