James Ross Snr. (English, c.1700-1750)
A Meet in the West of England
Oil on canvas, signed ‘J. Ross’ lower left
Framed in a Lely-pattern gilt carved frame with entwined cinquefoil decoration, c. 1700
Dimensions: 125 x 102 cm. / 49.25 x 40.15 in., 139.5 x 120cm / 55 x 47 in. incl. frame
Private collection, England
James Ross Snr was part of a small group of pioneering early eighteenth-century English artists, including John Wootton (1682 -1765), Peter Tillemans (1684-1734) and James Seymour (1702-1752), who specialised in sporting paintings. This signed painting by Ross shows a mixed local hunting party and their dogs meeting beside a manor house, with the ruins of an ancient castle beside it. In the background is a wide river valley with high hills in the distance; a typical English landscape scene, yet painted in a classical Italianate manner.
According to Sally Mitchell (op. cit.), James Ross and his family were probably from the Gloucestershire or Worcestershire area of England. The present painting’s background of a large, wide river valley and high, rolling hills in the distance bears close resemblance to his local Severn Valley. Indeed, Ross did paint known views of the Severn Valley area, for example in his set of four pictures of The Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt, each signed and variously dated 1729-33 (Christie’s, London, 15th November 1996, lot 47, hammer £165,000). Large signed paintings by Ross, such as the present example, rarely come to market and, as such, are highly sought-after examples of early English sporting art.