(25 December 1780 - 1831)
Animal painter, was the son of J. Barenger, a chaser, who exhibited water-colour drawings of insects at the Royal Academy between the years 1793 and 1799, and died in 1813, and he was on his mother's side a nephew of William Woollett, the eminent engraver. He obtained some celebrity as a painter of racehorses, dogs, deer, and other animals, which he exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1807 to 1831, in which year he died.
There is little room to doubt, the son of an artist of the same name who, in the last decade of the eighteenth century, exhibited a few pictures of entomological interest, butterfly and insect studies, at the Royal Academy. We do not anywhere find it definitely stated that James Barenger, the painter of insect life, was the father of James Barenger, the painter of sporting subjects; but inasmuch as the Royal Academy catalogues give the address of each as Kentish Town, the similarity of name and sequence of dates justifies the assumption that the two were father and son.
In Graves' Dictionary they appear as: -- James Barenger, London. Exhibited 1793- 1799. Insects. James Barenger, Junr., London. Ditto, 1807-1831. Sporting.
The elder Barenger and his brother, S. Barenger who achieved some measure of success as an engraver, were nephews of the famous engraver William Woollett.
Landscapes, more especially park scenes which afforded opportunity of introducing deer, figure largely among the earlier works of the younger Barenger; and only after he devoted his attention more strictly to animal portraiture was he represented in the exhibitions of the Royal Academy; his first exhibit being "Sheep, from Nature," and "A Famous Setter," which were shown in the year 1807, when the artist was in his twenty-eighth year. He was at this time living in Kentish Town, with his father we may conjecture; but at a later date he moved to Camden Town. In common with many other sporting artists his best known address was Tattersall's, Hyde Park Corner.
He had numerous private patrons, for whom he painted portraits of horses and dogs, and sporting scenes; after 1810, his works were in considerable demand by the publishers of sporting literature, and the first engravers of the time were employed to execute plates therefrom. Between the years 1807 and 1831, he exhibited thirty-seven pictures at the Royal Academy. Most of these portraits of horses and dogs; but the breadth of his range is apparent in the variety of subjects with which his brush dealt for the illustration of books. British Field Sports, vol. viii., by William Henry Scott, published in 1818, contains the following plates from works by Barenger; twelve of these were engraved by John Scott and the remaining five by J. Webb:
The Sporting Repository, vol. viii.. published in 1822, by Thomas McLean, has five plates engraved by T. Hunt from Barenger's pictures. These are: (1) Claret, a Hunter; (2) A Hawk; (3) A Herefordshire Ox; (4) Rubens, a Hunter; and (5) Merino Sheep.
The portrait of Rubens was engraved for separate publication by C. Turner. The Annals of Sporting for the year 1824, contains two plates to which special interest attaches, these being the only examples of the artist's work which, so far as our researches have shown, were engraved by his uncle, S. Barenger. "Topthorn" is depicted in the act of taking a leap of twenty-one feet over the Whissendine Brook.
One of the best of the twenty-six pictures reproduced in the Sporting Magazine between 1810 and 1832, was perhaps that of "Doll" a pointer bred by the artist from a bitch belonging to W. Whitbread, Esq., of Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, who was well known for his famous strain of pointers. This picture was beautifully engraved by John Scott. Many of Barenger's works were engraved in large size; among these we may notice: -- "Pheasants" and "British Feathered Game," companion plates engraved by Charles Turner and published by Ackermann in 1810; and "The Earl of Derby's Staghounds," the plate from which, measuring 24 inches by 19 inches, was engraved by R. Woodman. This work contains equestrian portraits of Lord Stanley and the Hon. E. Stanley. Jonathan Griffin, the huntsman, on "Spanker" is the central figure; the first whipper-in on "Noodle" also has place in the picture. This print was published on 15th May, 1823, by I. Griffin, Carshalton, Surrey.
Barenger's interest in field sports would seem, from his having bred pointers, to have been more than that of the artist: the sporting technique of his pictures is always accurate, and his animals are drawn with the knowledge that comes only from personal observation and study. In a collection in Essex there are two companion coursing pictures, each measuring 35 inches by 27 inches: these are "Loo Loo," and "The Death;" the greyhounds and hare are most true to nature.
Mr. George Henderson possesses a picture by James Barenger. This canvas, which measures 21 inches by 17 inches, shows a horse in the stable; the horse, a bay of the coaching stamp with a closely docked tail, stands in the subdued light of his stall, and is admirably painted. Mr. Charles Cooper Henderson saw this work in a picture dealer's window, and was so struck with its merits that he possessed himself of it on the spot, giving one of his own pictures in exchange. Mr. George Henderson is a son of Mr. Charles Cooper Henderson, the celebrated artist.
James Barenger died in 1831, and was buried in Old St. Pancras churchyard.
WORKS OF JAMES BARENGER EXHIBITED IN THE ROYAL ACADEMY (27 in Number).
View painter's art: James Barenger (1780-1831)