At the end of the eighteenth century novel methods of breeding generated new farm and sporting animals with striking appearances and improbable dimensions. Thomas Weaver was one of a small group of artists who pioneered paintings of such livestock during the Agricultural Revolution. His career took him from picturing the ponies and mares of the local gentry, to painting portraits of prize farm animals and thoroughbred stallions for the foremost agricultural improvers of Georgian England.
Weaver painted pedigree sheep for the 'great patron of agriculture', Coke of Norfolk, and the celebrated Durham Ox, bred by the Colling brothers. His pictures achieve accurate likenesses softened by humour, charm and luminous skies, and aspiring in mid-career to be a fine artist, he depicted horses in the pastoral and romantic styles of George Stubbs and Theodore Gericault. His fortunes rose and fell with the fashions and passions for new breeds and country pursuits, and as engravings became widely available, his paintings became popular subjects for prints
Based on a unique and hitherto unexamined collection of Thomas Weaver's papers and pictures, including personal and professional correspondence, contemporary newspaper cuttings and verse, fragments of his diary and portraits of his family, Painter of Pedigree brings life to the working career of an animal artist in the age of agricultural improvement. It is illustrated with many of his paintings and prints, which now hang in English country houses, museums, art galleries and private collections.
Lawrence Trevelyan Weaver is a descendent of Thomas Weaver, whose papers, correspondence and portraits of the artist and his family, have been handed down to him. Formerly a paediatrician, clinical scientist and medical historian, he has spent much of the last five years researching and writing this book. He is now Emeritus Professor of Child Health and Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for the History of Medicine in the University of Glasgow.