James Seymour was a prolific and popular equestrian artist. His father, Colonel James Seamer, was a passionate amateur draughtsman who, according to George Vertue, collected pictures and ‘curiosities’, knew many artists, was steward of the Virtuosi of St Luke in 1702 and a subscriber to Kneller’s academy in Great Queen Street in 1711. Seymour junior therefore grew up at the heart of the London art world. We know he attended the second St Martin’s Lane Academy under the directorship of Vanderbank and Chéron, a fact that may explain the appearance of a number of his drawings.
George Vertue noted: ‘Jimmy Seymor… from his infancy had a genius to drawing of Horses – this he pursued with great Spirit.’ The present sheet shows a collection of studies of horses and riders made rapidly in pencil. Probably executed whilst visiting a race meeting, the sheet shows Seymour’s ability to capture horses in movement with a fluid line. A substantial number of drawings by Seymour exist depicting horses and riders, they ultimately informed his work as an equestrian painter.