JOHN FERNELEY (1782-1860)
Oil on canvas laid on board
In period gilt frame
It’s clear from this picture that Ferneley didn’t just want to paint a Staffordshire bull terrier; he wanted to paint Rattler. For you’ve only got to look at him to see that Rattler was not just any old dog but one that built a reputation in his own lifetime. And it’s fair to speculate that this reputation was built on his prowess as an executioner of rats.
Ferneley paints him like a racehorse, as a specimen of dynamic canine perfection. He’s so primed for action his paws seem hardly to touch the ground. Every tendon, muscle and sinew is so taut, lean and ripped if you punched him you feel you’d break your fingers. He’s a killing machine, lord of the barns and outbuildings, the arch nemesis of the rodent world. Little rats all over the county are told if they’re not good little rats, ‘then Rattler will get them’.
John Ferneley was an English painter who specialised in portraying sporting horses, dogs and hunting scenes. Although his rendition of horses was stylised, he is regarded as one of the great British equine artists of all time, second perhaps only to George Stubbs.
John Ferneley ‘s work has been offered at auction multiple times, the record price for this artist at auction is 1,366,960 USD for Silvers Firs at Osberton sold at Christie’s London in 2007.