John Vine of Colchester (British early 19th century)
Six prize Berkshire pigs signed, inscribed and dated 'J. Vine Smithfield Club Prize Show 186[?]' (lower left) oil on board 44.4 x 58.4 cm. (17 1/2 x 23 in.), in a period maple frame
For a comparable example of the artist's work, see Moncrieff, Elspeth (with Stephen and Iona Joseph), Farm Animal Portraits, Antique Collectors' Club, Woodbridge, 1996, p.143, colour plate 128.
John Vine was born in Bury St. Edmunds, but soon after, his family moved to Colchester. He had to overcome considerable handicaps to become a successful artist in that he was born with only very rudimentary arms and legs and as a child may have been exhibited as a curiosity in fairs around the country. Indeed, there is a letter from the Duke of Marlborough expressing his 'great surprise at the production of such an excellent picture by one labouring under such disadvantages'.
John Vine was an important livestock artist who began painting a variety of subject matter for a local clientele. However, the arrival of the railways coupled with his growing reputation as an animal painter meant that he was able to travel all over the country to attend the agricultural shows. By the 1840s Vine had an established practice in livestock and equestrian portraits as well as continuing to paint portraits and topographical scenes, such as 'The Phillips Children' (Colchester Museum). During the 1850s and '60s Vine attended most of the RASE and Smithfield Shows, painting portraits of prizewinning livestock, commissioned by their proud owners. He occasionally added the word 'Colchester' to his signature, as his paintings were spread far and wide and he wanted potential clients to know where he could be found. His animals, especially his pigs, are full of character and any such deficiencies due to his handicaps are amply compensated for by the charm of the painting.