Five prize Leicester rams in Ingestre Park signed 'J.B.Wood Pinxt.' and indistinctly dated (lower right) oil on canvas 63.5 x 79.4 cm. (25 x 31 1/4 in.)
Literature: Moncrieff, Elspeth (with Stephen and Iona Joseph), Farm Animal Portraits, Antique Collectors' Club, Woodbridge, 1996, page 75 (illustrated).
Ingestre's existing gardens were transformed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown (1716-83) who drew up a plan for his work (still in existence) dated 1756. He was commissioned by the 2nd Viscount Chetwynd. It is interesting in being the earliest of a group of major landscapes that he was to work on in Staffordshire and the neighbouring areas of the West Midlands, including neightbouring Tixall, Swinnerton, Weston Park, Chillington Hall, Tong Castle, Coombe Abbey and Trentham. Brown incorporated features of the existing gardens such as a small lake, which was enlarged, an obelisk set in an octagonal pool and a raised 'bastion' or mound on which a Doric temple was set (the Temple is clearly visible in the painting.)
When Lord Chetwynd died in 1767 his brother inherited the title but his daughter inherited the Ingestre estates. She married Hon John Talbot and their son succeeded John's father as Lord Talbot and subsequently became Viscount Ingestre and Earl Talbot. He was a leading exponent of the new agricultural techniques that came in during the 18th century, and his entry in the Complete Peerage confirms that 'he paid great attention to agriculture and to the improvement of his Staffordshire estates. He died at Ingestre in 1849 and his son succeeded his cousin to become 18th Earl Shrewsbury - the family still own the estate.