View from the Terrace, Wethersfield, New York
Chancey Deveaux Stillman (1907-1989) owned the 1,200 acre estate of Wethersfield in Armenia, New York state. It included a stable and carriage house complex as well as a main residence. The house, estate and carriage collection are now open to the public. Michael Lyne made several visits to Wethersfield to paint the carriage driving competitions and would have executed this drawing of the view of the Millbrook Valley as seen from the terrace on one of these visits.
Michael Lyne was born in Upton Bishop, near Ross-on-Wye, and educated at Rossall School in Lancashire. From his earliest years he developed a deep love and understanding of hunting and field sports and was fortunate to be able to combine this passion with his natural ability to draw and paint. In 1932 he enrolled at Cheltenham College of Art and held his first public exhibition in that town in 1934. He quickly gathered commissions to paint local hunting scenes and by 1937 held his first exhibition in London. Apart from the war years he was to hold regular sell-out exhibitions in London, at first with Ackermanns and later with Frost and Reed.
A passionate huntsman, Lyne had his own pack of beagles, the United Cotswolds, which he started with a first beagle given to him by Captain ‘Ronnie’ Wallace, then Master of the Eton Beagles and life-long friend. Lyne also rode with the Devon and Somerset Staghounds and after he settled near Fairford, hunted regularly with the VWH. He painted many of the great hunts in the country including the Beaufort, Heythrop and Warwickshire. In 1949 Frederick Warburg saw Lyne’s work and invited him to the USA to paint several of the leading East Coast of America foxhound packs. He returned regularly to execute many commissions including a series of 10 paintings for Paul Mellon. In addition to his trips to America he also painted packs in Ireland and France.
It was natural that Lyne should also enjoy steeple-chasing and point-to-point racing; both of which inspired some of his best known works. From 1961 he made regular trips to Aintree to watch the Grand National, and from these visits came a series of dramatic and powerful paintings that included such great horses as Highland Wedding, Rondetto. Jay Trump and Foinavon. His sporting interests also encompassed regular stalking trips to Scotland as well as coursing; he bred his own working salukis and was a steward of the National Coursing Club.
A prolific book illustrator, Lyne was also a regular contributor of illustrations and articles to Country Life and The Field. Between 1964 and 1979 Frost and Reed published many limited edition prints of his paintings.
Michael Lyne was one of the leading British sporting artists of the 20th Century and his work stands along side that of Alfred Munnings and especially Lionel Edwards, whose influence can be seen in his paintings. Throughout his life he constantly carried sketchbooks that he filled with rapid drawings. He would develop these drawings in a series of lively and energetic pencil and chalk studies such as those offered in this exhibition and the compositions would finally take form as finished watercolours or oil paintings.