Three Members is considered one of John F. Herring Sr.’s finest paintings. The title refers to the horses drinking at a water
trough, water being the preferred beverage of the Temperance Movement. Versions of this painting have been attributed to John Arnold Wheeler, C.H. Thompson, M. Gouge, Thomas Landseer, and Alexander
Hay Ritchie, who engraved this version.
The Artist: John Frederick Herring Sr.
According to the Iconographic Encyclopaedia of the Arts and Sciences by Johann Georg Heck (1887): “John Frederick Herring,
whose father was an American, was a painter of a wide range of ability and of great art-knowledge. He was born in Surrey
in 1795 and died at Tunbridge in 1865.
Herring began life as an apprentice to a coach-painter.
He studied with Abraham Cooper, and soon received commissions to paint portraits of horses and began the series of Winners
of the St. Leger, which he continued for thirty-three years.
But in 1830 he undertook to paint composition- or
subject-pictures, and exhibited annually at the Academy. Many of these works have been engraved, and have met with a wide
popularity. Herring's long career was one of uninterrupted success. Among his best canvases are Three Members of the Temperance
Society, Returning from Epsom on the Derby Day, and a Mail-coach in the Time of George IV.” Herring was appointed
animal painter to the Duchess of Kent and received commissions from George IV and Queen Victoria.
His son, John F. Herring Jr., was born circa 1820.
Early on, John Jr. was exposed to wealthy patrons, and his father's mastery of equine art and connections served John Jr.
well. He and two of his brothers began painting in the style of their father, and they often collaborated on paintings.
John Jr. continued painting in the tradition of
his father, but he began to loosen his brushwork and widen his landscape views. Farmyard animals or animals along an embankment
were favorite subjects of his. John Sr. continued employing tight brushwork and focused attention on the animal, not the surrounding
scenery. After 1836, John Sr. began adding the tag “SenR” at the end of his signature.
Engraver: Alexander Hay Ritchie
Alexander Hay Ritchie
(1822–1895) was an artist and engraver. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and studied in the UK under Sir William Allan
before moving to New York City in 1841 and establishing a successful workshop. His engravings,
mezzotints, and etchings were usually of historical or allegorical subjects.