Lionel Edwards: Artist of the Chase

A Selling Exhibition of his Sporting Studies


‘The claim made so often on his behalf - that Lionel Edwards was the greatest hunting artist of all time – must surely go unchallenged? None of the nineteenth century giants can rival him, for none of them captured at once the melodrama, the winter ambience, the glory and the consummate truth of the British and Irish hunting scene in all its moods as Edwards did.’

JPN Watson, his biographer

Long revered in sporting circles, this exhibition of his sporting and landscape studies reveals Lionel Edwards to be an artist of the first rank. Lionel Edwards devoted his life to capturing the essence of country pursuits – the sights, the smells and sounds of horse over soft ground, the patter of the hounds, the exhilarating speed of the chase. His ultimate love was for hunting, fishing, and shooting and he had an unmatched ability to capture the excitement of these essentially English pursuits.

It is these studies that provide the backbone of this commemorative exhibition. All the works in the exhibition have remained in the possession of Lionel’s family until now.


‘Lionel Edwards was not only Britain's outstanding sporting artist but, in my opinion, he was also one of the finest landscape painters this country has ever produced.'

Joan Wanklyn, artist

Lionel Edwards’ earliest memories were of the Welsh hills and the men and hounds who hunted them. The sounds of horn music and hound song, the whinney and echo of hooves in cobbles stuck with him all his life. By the age of five he had already got into a habit of sketching animals and people and he made his first hunting painting, of the local huntsman, when he just five years old. 

It was fortunate that Lionel’s mother ‘was sufficiently strong-minded to overcome Victorian prejudices and let me study at an art school' he said. As a teenager he joined Frank Calderon’s school of animal painting in London and he took classes in anatomical studies.

 Still in London, he bought his first horse when he was nineteen. ‘In the morning the first sound I heard was the clatter of horses' hooves… while in summertime a strong smell of horse urine ascended and entered my bedroom windows.’ In the 1890s it was quite normal to hunt from London by the train and ‘pink-coated horsemen and their rugged-up horses could be seen almost any morning during the winter months at Euston or Paddington station'. Lionel joined them and started hunting from Bedford Park, Chiswick.

Lionel’s first drawings for sale were of the wild cattle of Chillingham, in north Northumberland, work that was promptly accepted by the editor of Country Life, the magazine with which he enjoyed the closest relationship throughout his life. Lionel’s idea of heaven was to ride to hounds, to smell the odours, see the sights and hear the orchestra of the hunting field. Then to capture the scenes on his sketch pads and canvases as quickly as he could.

He left London in 1903 for north Wales, and he said this was when he finally learnt ‘to use my eyes. Most of us think we can see…but it is not so. Remarkably few people are observant.’

Lionel was twenty-seven when he married the love of his London days, Ethel Wells. She was a girl of great animation and zest, she loved life in the country, rode side-saddle with bravado and had a feel for artistic composition that was to aid her husband. Their first house was at Boars Hill, near Radley where Lionel found space to paint in an old carpenter’s shop. He decided to specialise in what he loved best and became an artist of the chase.

Lionel was fascinated with the development of photography, the work of Muybridge and Fox Talbot, and how it showed up the misconceptions of previous generations of artists who showed the ‘now absurd’-looking rocking-horse gallops. But he thought ‘the advent of instantaneous photography has been both a boon and a cure to the artist. It has shown him the errors his forerunners committed in depicting movement, but it has bound him to a convention equally incorrect since the motions depicted by the camera are not what we see, being a record of movement much too fast for the human eye to follow.’

Lionel spent hour upon hour considering how best to capture the illusion of speed, the difference between walk, trot and rack, or pace, the distortions of perspective and variations of the field.

 ‘A modern horseman, rising at the jump, leans forward, goes with the horse. This suggests movement but put him upright in his saddle - the way our fathers rode over fences - and it almost stops the horse pictorially. Bring him a little farther over the jump, commencing to land, tilt his body a little back, in the position assumed by all riders of the past, though only by a few of the present, and again you get the suggestion of movement.’


‘He immortalised the foxhunting scenes and personalities of this century as no other artist has done before or since.’

Daphne Moore, sporting writer

Lionel was particularly sad about the fate of horses in the first war, often commenting that the 377,312 horses sent to France between 1914 and 1918 were ‘completely forgotten’. Following the war there were many who questioned the future of hunting - ‘my father did not think hunting would last through my time’ - but undeterred ‘from this period I started on a more serious and strenuous effort to make a living out of sporting art and visited more packs than I can remember in the next twenty years’.

 There will never be anything to beat Lionel’s pictorial record of British and Irish hunting in this period; it is larger and more comprehensive than all others, and above all, it expresses far greater seasonal, regional, and sporting eloquence and incisive truth. He succeeded better than all the others in making everything come together in one whole feeling of clay-spattered, yet enormously elegant, combination of brave high-spirited sportsman and women and strong, lithe, well-bred horses and hounds.


Lionel hunted everywhere in Britain and Ireland; at Badminton, with the Quorn, the Bedale, at Whaddon Chase, at his beloved Buckholt, with the Pytchley, on the banks of the Forth, with the Flint hounds, everywhere and anywhere. The variety of the pictures and studies in this exhibition show that he never settled and was determined to cross the country to capture the sporting world in its entirety.

 He was not bloodthirsty. He kept a fox as a pet for several years which resulted in Lionel writing a perceptive book on the animal. He was as interested in the countryside as he was in the sporting nature of hunting;

‘Lionel Edwards one of few artists who realise that the soul of a sporting picture is its setting. I would dare wager that it can be truly said of him that he has never painted a landscape which he has not seen: wherein he is very different from the majority. You could lift horses, hounds or any other animate figure you please, out of any of his paintings and still leave a complete landscape and a real picture.'

Country Life, May 1925


Success bred demand and Lionel became the sporting artist of choice amongst the aristocracy. One drawing in the exhibition is a sketch of the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII, standing shooting pheasants in his favourite kilt.


He excelled in watercolour, a medium demanding spontaneous execution from rough notes and memory, with little or no time for second thoughts. But it was a medium in which swiftly accurate, quick-working Edwards was a master. There is a watercolour in the exhibition of the river Wye, which was a favourite of Lionel’s, being at the time one of the finest salmon rivers in Britain. But here his eye is for the extraordinary array of autumnal colours. This is a masterclass in depicting a calm, steady flow of water running downstream as the fading light filters through the trees and reflects off the surface of the Wye.

He wrote many books and articles where he gave his thoughts on the chase and the difficult art of capturing it; ‘the commonest error is to make hounds run with their mouths shut’. The sketches he made in the field were his true masterpieces, he took infinite pains to draw individual portraits of each hound and horse, to note the colours and the markings, to achieve a real animal likeness.

His biographer noted that Lionel would be dismayed at the widespread urbanisation of the modern world, the reduction in hedgerows, the proliferation wire, the abandonment of hunting by many of its traditional families. ‘The anti-hunting movement would perhaps grieve him the most’. For a man as compassionate as him, who made such a profound study of animal emotion ‘would surely have turned his back on the sport if it had been proved to be cruel and not, as the case is, the salvation of a thousand other cruelties.’ He took no delighted in the kill, ‘it is the chase that is the splendour of our days’.

If he returned today, he would be buoyed by the survival of hunting, the remarkable adaption of the foxhound to modern conditions, and in the determination of hunting’s devotees, in face of some violent opposition, that the sport shall thrive forever.

His biographer was adamant; ‘he was the finest hunting artist that ever lived.’


Click here if you are interested in purchasing works by Lionel Edwards

* prices exclude shipping and VAT *


The collection will be available to view at the Dickinson Gallery in London until 20th December. 


Simon C. Dickinson Ltd

58 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6LX

Mon-Fri 9am-6pm

Price List 

* prices exclude shipping and VAT *


 4. Salmon Pool, The Wye.
April 1948, watercolour sketch, titled and dated by the artist in pencil to the lower right
39 x 49 ½ cm (framed)


10. Looking into Sun in an autumn landscape
watercolour sketch, inscribed in pencil lower right
45 x 62 cm (framed)


13. Southcourt Stud, Leighton Buzzard, owned by the Rothschild Family
watercolour on cream paper, inscribed on the reverse
49 x 67 cm (framed)


 21. Fox at Lakeland Craig  

pen and pencil on cream paper 

32 x 27cm (framed)



 23. Autumn across the Vale

watercolour on cream paper 

51 x 68cm



🔴 1. Golden Miller at Elsenham Stud, near Saffron Walden
pencil and watercolour sketch, with inscriptions lower right
39 x 49 cm (framed)

Golden Miller, described as ‘God on four legs’ was the most successful Cheltenham Gold Cup racehorse ever, winning in five consecutive years between 1932 and 1936. He also is the only horse to win both of the United Kingdom premier steeplechase races - the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National - in the same year (1934).

Lionel Edwards painted Golden Miller at his stud at Elsenham, which was owned by the Honourable Dorothy Paget, famously eccentric aristocratic racehorse owner, who was at one time the richest unmarried women in England.


🔴2. Fresh Hare. Lady Gifford’s Harriers at Old Park, Bosham
1903, black ink and pencil on paper, laid onto board
25 x 34 cm (framed)

Lady Gifford was a famous sportswoman who kept a pack of harriers at her residence, Old Park, Bosham in Sussex. Edwards’ shows them in a dramatic chase of a fresh hare in one of his most exhilarating sporting studies.

 🔴 3. The March, Glenmoriston, near Loch Ness.
pencil on paper, depicting a huntsman stalking a herd of deer, one is turned towards the hunstman, the others running away down the hill
29 x 34 cm (framed)

Glemoriston is a river glen in the Scottish Highlands running from Loch Ness to Loch Cluanie. The Glenmoriston Estate is one of the most spectacular estates in the Highlands and has been owned continuously by the Grant family for almost 600 years and Edwards’ was presumably staying with the Grant family when he captured this extraordinary moment.

🔴 5. ‘Up Over’, Devon & Somerset
Black ink and pencil, depicting three hounds following the scent of a deer, title in pencil to lower left
30 x 37 ½ cm (framed)


 🔴 6. Going to a Holla

Black ink and pencil on paper, with an inscription upper right
26 x 35 cm (framed)


🔴 7.  A fox at Church Spinney, Hungarton, The Quorn
Black pen and pencil, on cream paper, inscribed in pen in upper right
40 x 44 cm (framed)


🔴 8. The Prince of Wales, future King Edward VIII shooting game
Pencil on paper, with inscriptions
34 x 18 ½ cm (framed)


🔴 9. Shooting, Stubble Field with Partridges
pencil on sketch book leaf, depicting a man with a shotgun taking aim at three partridges
28 ½ x 34 ½ cm (framed)



🔴11. Warr Hounds! C.F. Beagles in Northumberland
pencil drawing on pale cream wove paper, depicting a roe deer standing on a hillside with a huntsman and two hounds following a scent, title in pencil to lower, laid onto black paper
44 x 34 cm (framed)


 🔴 12. Watkin’s huntsman, Wynnstay Hunt, Shropshire and Cheshire

pencil and watercolour sketch, with inscriptions
39 ½ x 47 cm (framed)

Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn was the 7th Baronet of the Williams-Wynn family and a keen huntsman.


 🔴 14. The Quorn Hunt, Ridge & Furrow
black ink and pencil on sketch book leaf, depicting riders galloping across a field, one mounted rider approaching the gate to join the rest of the field, title in pencil to upper right

31.5 x 37cm(framed)



 🔴 15. The Deer Park at Berkeley, Gloucestershire

pencil on cream paper

39 x 48.5cm (framed)



 🔴 16. Quorn Hunstman at Ingarsby Old Hall

pencil on cream paper

41 x 50cm (framed)



 🔴 17. ‘To Ground!

pen on cream paper

45 x 39.5cm (framed)



 🔴 18. Jumping the Stream at Lillesdon Rhene, The Taunton Vale Hunt
black ink and pencil on wove paper, depicting a horse and rider riding up the bank of a river, the horses back leg in the water, pencil notes to verso

36 x 46cm (framed)



🔴19. The Cheshire Hunt near Peckforton Castle

pencil on cream paper

31 x 39cm (framed)



 🔴 20. Bramble the Foxhound, Radnor and West Hereford Hunt

pen and pencil on cream paper, with inscriptions

20 x 24cm (framed)



 🔴 22. The Terrier Girl 

pen and pencil on cream paper

32.5 x 29cm (framed)



🔴24. Queen Anne House

watercolour and pencil on cream paper 

36 x 50cm (unframed)



 🔴 25. Roe Deer

pen and pencil on cream paper, laid down on brown card with inscription

 21 x 20cm 



 🔴 26. Waiting for Black Grouse at Bearnock

‘Waiting for black game just before sunset’

pencil on cream paper, with inscriptions

34.5 x 30.5cm


Bearnock was owned by Lady Grant, one of the leading literary figures of her day. [later sold to Sutherland family]

🔴27. Returning from the hills with a stag

With scenes on the recto and verso, pencil on cream paper 

27 x 32cm framed)


🔴 28. A Great Stag

pencil on cream paper

46 x 36cm



🔴 29. Mrs King’s Grey Mare 

watercolour and pencil on cream paper, with inscriptions

48.5 x 41cm



 🔴 30. Dick Perkins the huntsman at the Grove and Rufford Hunt, Nottinghamshire

watercolour and pencil on cream paper, with inscriptions

39 x 47cm


The Grove and Rufford Hunt was formed by the amalgamation of the Grove and the Rufford Hunts in 1952. The Grove country area was constituted in 1827 by Mr. George Savile Foljambe.

🔴 31. A Huntsman

Pencil on cream paper

33 x 43 cm (framed)



🔴 32. On the Hunt

Pencil on cream paper

28 x 26.5 cm (framed)



 🔴 33. Quorn Hunt Country

Pen and pencil on cream paper, with inscriptions

31.5 x 37 cm (framed)


🔴 34. Horses at Billesdon Coplow, The Quorn
Pencil on cream paper, with inscriptions
41 x 50 cm (framed)

Billesdon Coplow is ten miles east of Leicester and the original estate was one of the classic hunting establishments of the Shires. In 1911 it was acquired by John D'Arcy Hartley, a keen huntsman until he died of a heart attack while riding the Quorn Hunt in 1937. Since 1976 it has been owned by Bridgewood family.


 Click here if you are interested in purchasing works by Lionel Edwards 

* prices exclude shipping and VAT *

The collection will be available to view at the Dickinson Gallery in London until 20th December. 

Simon C. Dickinson Ltd

58 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6LX

Mon-Fri 9am-6pm