George Garrard – Painter and Sculptor

George Garrard was born on 31 May 1760 and became a well-known animal painter in the late 1700 and early 1800s. Although little is known about Gerrard’s early life, it seems that the name of Garrard was “frequently associated with art.”[1] A descendant of his, Marc Garrard, came to England from Bruges in the late 1500s and became a painter to Queen Elizabeth. Marc Garrard also supposedly executed a “picture representing the procession … of Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1584 to Hunsdon House, near Ware, Hertfordshire.”[2]

Similar to his ancestor Marc, George Garrard developed his artistic talents. He began art lessons with Joseph Simpson but soon proved talented enough that at the age of 18 he was accepted as a student at the Royal Academy. There he studied under Sawrey Gilpin, an English animal painter, illustrator, and etcher who specialized in painting horses and dogs. In 1781, while at the Academy, Garrard also gave his first exhibit of horses and dogs paintings.

Sawrey Gilpin, Public Domain

Sawrey Gilpin, Public domain.

After 1781, the same year that Jane Austen‘s cousin, Eliza Hancock, married the Count de Feuillide, several exciting things happened to Garrard. One was that he attracted the attention of Sir Joshua Reynolds with his painting “View of a Brewhouse Yard.” The painting so impressed Reynolds, he commissioned Gerrard to paint him a similar picture. Then, in 1786, a Colonel Thomas Thorton applied to Sawrey Gilpin seeking an artist to accompany him on a sporting tour. Garrard was chosen, and all the pictures that Garrard produced were eventually published in 1804 in a two-volume book titled, A Sporting Tour through the Northern Parts of England and the Highlands of Scotland.

Picture of Durham from A Sporting Tour through the  Northern Parts of England and the Highlands of Scotland, Public Domain

Picture of Durham from “A Sporting Tour through the Northern Parts of England and the Highlands of Scotland.” Public domain.

In 1793, Garrard exhibited “Sheep-shearing at Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire,” which got him thinking about how he could improve his work. This caused him to develop the ideal that modelling cattle might be useful to landscape painters. Thereafter, he began to combine modeling with painting and that resulted in another idea about copyrights.

He then introduced legislation in parliament to protect artistic works. His request for copyrights of “plastic art” first occurred in 1797. It was passed a year later under the title of “An Act for encouraging the Art of making new Models and Casts of Busts, and other Things therein mentioned.”

Hunter and Huntsman 1785 by George Garrard, Courtesy of Wikipedia

“Hunter and Huntsman,” 1785.  Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Garrard’s forethought and action with copyrights brought other successes. He was elected to the Royal Academy as an associate in 1800, the same year that the famous French socialite Madame Récamier was painted by Jacques-Louis David. That same year Garrard also published a folio volume with colored plates titled, A Description of the Different Varieties of Oxen Common in the British Isles. The broad-leaved book demonstrated common breeds of cattle in an exact scale to that of nature. The book also provided two to four pictures of each animal and provided a brief history, along with characteristics of each breed.

A Bay Horse Approached by a Stable-Lad with Food and a Halter - 1789, Courtesy of Wikipedia

A bay horse approached by a stable-lad with food and a halter – 1789. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

After 1804, Garrard began to restrict himself to sculpture and modelling. Sometimes the sculptures were completed in marble or bronze, but more frequently he created them from plaster. Many of his works were exhibited at the Royal Academy and included the “Fighting Bulls” and “An Elk Pursued by Wolves.” He also modeled two well-known equestrian statues: One of the Duke of Wellington and a bronze of the Duke of York, which was “referred to by the reviewer of the Sporting Magazine as ‘an inimitable performance.'”[3] In total, during Garrard’s lifetime, it is claimed he exhibited some 215 works at the Royal Academy. 

Garrard also became well-known for portraying his extensive knowledge of animal anatomy. Among some of his works were “A Holderness Cow,” “An Agricultural Show,” “Coach Horses,” “Chaise Horses,” and “The Duke on a Cover Hack.” In addition, the ox of the shorthorn breed portrayed by Garrard is the famous great white ox of Houghton-le-Spring — an unwieldy apparently not very level bodied beast — ‘Grass-fed, walks 200 stone of 14 lb., and was in a thriving state when [his] picture was taken, November 1812.'”[4]

George Garrard - fat Teeswater ox

A fat Teeswater ox called “The Ox of Houghton le Spring.” Courtesy of the British Museum.

Garrard will always be remembered for demonstrating a wide variety of talents. He painted both in oils and in watercolors. He also painted numerous subjects, such as horses, cattle, dogs, sporting subjects, and landscapes. He created numerous busts from plaster and marble and executed medallions, base-reliefs, and groups of animals, and, in addition, he also produced engravings.

Greyhound Painted in 1822, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Greyhound painted by Garrard in 1822. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In the early 1820s Garrard was also commissioned by George Lane Fox, a British landowner and Tory politician, of Bramham Park to paint portraits of his servants. Among some of the servants that Garrard depicted was a gardener, coachman, steward, and housekeeper.

George Garrard - coachman

Portrait of a Coachman from Bramham Park, Yorkshire, identified as William Fox, c.1822 (oil on canvas) by George Garrard. Courtesy of Bridgeman Images.

George Garrard died rather suddenly. London’s Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser reported that he had gone to Fulham to model a bust of the Lord Bishop of London, at the Episcopal Palace, and then planned to visit a friend on the banks of the Thames, when he was taken ill. The next morning, he returned home to Queen’s-row Brompton, where he died two days later.

Yet, for for all Garrard’s varied talents, he was not well off financially. When he died at the age of 66 on 8 October 1826 his wife received just a small annual pension from the Royal Academy. In addition, his death hardly garnered a mention in newspapers with London’s Sun stating:

“On the 8th inst., George Garrard, Esq. A.R.A., at his residence, 4 Queen’s-building, Brompton.”[5]


  • [1] Bailey’s Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, Vol. 65, 1896, p. 409.
  • [2] Ibid.
  • [3] Ibid., p. 411.
  • [4] The Country Gentleman’s Magazine, 1876, p. 294.
  • [5] “Died,” in Sun, 13 October 1826, p. 4.

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