An English setter and an Irish setter in a landscape signed and dated 'TBlinks.01.' (lower left) oil on canvas 69 x 99.5 cm. (27 x 39 in.)
Although he did not receive any formal training, Thomas Blinks is now regarded as one of the finest sporting painters of his generation. He was born in Mardston, but his family soon moved to Ticehurst in Kent, where he went to school. By the age of ten, he was sketching animals, but his father insisted he learn a trade and he was apprenticed to a tailor. Unhappy, he ran away to an uncle and following family discussions, was allowed to pursue a career as a painter. Blinks continued to paint and by twenty-one, he was exhibiting at The Dudley Gallery and two years later showed at The Royal Academy, London, for the first time. Based in London for most of his life, he painted hunting scenes and polo subjects, but is best known for his depiction of gun dogs. His work is characterised by freedom of brushwork and an ability to capture a moment in time as the dogs work.
Setters are amongst the oldest of the gundog breeds and were originally developed to 'stop' or 'set' when they found game, so that a net could be thrown over the birds. The English Setter was one of the breeds at the first recorded dog show in 1859 and the first field trial in 1865. The Irish 'Red' Setter became popular towards the end of the 19th century and is now regarded as one of the most glamorous of all breeds.