18 Lucy Kemp-Welch (1869-1958)



Lucy Elizabeth Kemp-Welch is arguably the greatest painter of horses of all time. I know it's debatable, and there are artists on this list like Anwen Keeling, Sally Lancaster, and Anne-Marie Kornachuk who paint more accurate and arguably superior portraits of horses. But Lucy Kemp-Welch was a story teller. She composed incredible stories where each horse is a unique character, each horse participates in the narrative. Lucy fills her paintings with them, creating such drama and action, you're not simply admiring a portrait, you're witnessing the history of horse and man as it was before the advent of motor vehicles. Each painting is a capsule, not just in time, but of Lucy's unique perspective, her brilliance for color, gesture, and composition.

'Mixed Company'

Among Lucy Kemp-Welche's accolades, she exhibited over 61 paintings at the Royal Academy, starting while still a student with 'Gypsy Drovers Taking Horses to a Fair' in 1895. Lucy Kemp-Welch was president of the Society of Animal Painters. She painted illustrations for Anna Sewell's Black Beauty. She also illustrated Round About, A Brighton Coach Office by M E King in 1896 and The Marking of Mathias in 1897. During WWI, Lucy was hired by the British government to paint recruitment posters and three large paintings, 'The Leaders of a Heavy Gun Team', 'Forward the Horses', and 'Big Guns to the Front'. In 1924 the government hired her to paint a large panel showing women's contributions to the war effort. Lucy's younger sister Edith was also a painter, and was paid to make her own war poster with the slogan 'Remember Scarborough'.

'Colt Hunting in New Forest'

Lucy was born in Bournemouth, Dorset, in southern England. As an artist she was a prodigy and first exhibited at fourteen. She attended a local art school until 1891 when she (age 22) and her sister Edith switched schools, studying under Hubert von Herkomer in the town of Bushey, Hertfordshire, where she spent the rest of her life. Lucy was Hubert's best student, and he helped her set up her first studio in a former inn called Kingsley. According to this article by Joy V. Spicer, "She was a great believer in painting out-of-doors, making quick sketches, which she would then attend to in greater detail in her studio."

'Horses Bathing in the Sea'
Starting in 1905 she replaced Hubert as head of the school, renaming it first the Bushey School of Painting, and then, from 1926 the Kemp-Welch School of Animal Painting. Two years later she bequeathed the school to her assistant, Marguerite Frobisher, who renamed it the Frobisher School of Art. Starting around 1926 Lucy began following Sanger's Circus, painting horses there. Lucy died in Bushey, never marrying. The Bushey Museum still owns a large collection of her works.

'Forward the Guns!' 1917

'Big Guns to the Front', 1918

'Logging the Grizedale Forest'

'Gypsy Horse Drovers'

'Straw Ride- Russley Park Remount Dep't, Wiltshire'

'In Sight: Lord Dundonald's dash on Ladysmith', 1901

'Winter's White Silence'

'Gypsy Horses'

'Years at the Spring'

'Black Beauty' illustrated for the book by Anna Sewell in 1915. According to Joy Spicer, the model for the painting was named Black Prince, despite that Black Beauty was supposed to be a mare. While it was hoped the horse would march in military parades, he detested gunfire, and after several 'incidents' the horse was given into Lucy's care, until it died in 1922.

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'A Moment's Rest'

'Thistlethwaite's bay mare 'Marriage Lines' with her foal 'Master Jim''


'Ladies' Army Remount Dep't, Russley Park, Wiltshire'


'Crossing the Ford'

'I'll Drive Straight to the Hospital'

'Sea Horses'

'Timber Coming Down the Mountain'

'Circus Act'

'Ponte Santa Trinità, Florence'


'Gun Horses'

'Watering the Horses'

'Horses bathing in the sea study 1'

'Horses bathing in the sea study 2'