WILLIAM JOSEPH SHAYER
A Gentleman holding his dark bay Hunter at the Steps of a
Oil on canvas, signed and dated 1850
40.6 x 50.8 cms
16 x 20 ins
W J Shayer was the eldest son of the painter William Shayer and was born in Chichester on 2nd April 1811. His stepbrothers, Charles Waller and Henry Thring Shayer, were also talented animal and landscape artists.
William Joseph’s work is sometimes confused with that of his illustrious father and it is assumed that the former was taught by his father in his studio. William Joseph exhibited his first painting, “Portrait of a Mare”, at Henry Hampshire’s Picture Gallery, when he was only seventeen years old. The following year he showed “Trout, from Nature” at the Royal Society of British Artists in Suffolk Street, London.
Although he painted a good number of horse portraits, farmyard and hunting scenes he was probably best known for his coaching pictures which he depicted with great accuracy and knowledge, possibly gleaned from his time spent as a coach driver. This had come about after his move to Holborn in London and the death of his wife after only two years of marriage in 1833. Most of his early work was commissioned and presumably he could not gain enough commission work after moving to the capital to sustain a living solely from painting.
Shayer exhibited twenty-four times between 1829 and 1885 with two at the Royal Academy, one at the British Institute and nineteen at the Royal Society. Titles include: “Greyhounds”, “Leisure Moments”, “Copenhagen, a favourite Charger, the property of His Grace the Duke of Wellington”, “Major, Bounce and Rap, three Setters, the property of – Horsley Esq.”, “Portrait of Poison, Winner of the Oaks Stakes at Epsom”, “The Farm Stable” and “Eton from the Thames”.
A good proportion of his work was engraved and most of this was published by Ackermann’s. The Glasgow Gallery has one of his paintings in its collection.
Bibliography: The Dictionary of Victorian Painters - Christopher Wood
The Dictionary of British Equestrian Artists - Sally Mitchell
Dictionary of British Landscape Painters – M H Grant