Love art? The splendid painting on the left is up for auction and we warmly welcome more

Whatever your feelings on fox hunting, it’s hard not to admire this wonderful painting. For me, it encapsulates British country life, its history and colour, writes Charles Hanson.

Thanks to its rural heritage, Derbyshire and its neighbouring counties are well known for their country pursuits.

And, inevitably, this has been celebrated by many great artists, one being the man who created this canvas, John Charlton, a man of humble roots whose paintings are now worth thousands.

However, this is not a typical example of his work. Charlton, who lived from 1849–1917, was an English painter and illustrator who became widely known for his battle scenes (an example also pictured), mainly from contemporary history.

This oil painting was found in a grand Staffordshire country house. Titled ‘With the Pytchley Hounds’, it’s an oil on canvas and measures a mighty 7ft by 5ft. It will go under the hammer in our March 26 Fine Art Auction with an estimate of £8,000-£12,000.

It’s an imposing and ambitious work on a grand scale, typical of Charlton.Commercially the subject is excellent because it evokes an ancient and very English pastime.It would appeal to the hunting fraternity as well as enthusiasts of country pursuits and dogs in art.

Born in Bamburgh, Northumberland, Charlton received his first lessons in drawing from his father when he was only three years old. Within a few years, he was drawing horses with some skill.

His family was far from wealthy, so he had to attend a charity school and, a few years later, find employment.

A job in a Newcastle bookshop led him to learn about the work of Thomas Bewick, the father of wood engraving, and Charlton started to appreciate graphic art.

The budding artist then began to imitate the master’s work, much to the delight of two of Bewick’s ageing sisters. Later he spent seven long years employed in the office of Sir Isaac Bell’s ironworks, but seeing the young man’s skill at draughtsmanship, his employers regularly granted him one day a week to practice his art.

It was suggested he attend evening classes at Newcastle School of Arts under William Bell Scott. During this time, Charlton began to develop quite a reputation on Tyneside as a painter of horses and dogs and received some commissions to portray family pets. This fine painting clearly demonstrates that particular talent.

Fine traditional and contemporary paintings are warmly welcomed for inclusion in our March Fine Art Auctions. Entries are invited until March 2.

Paintings and prints can be valued for free at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, on Monday, February 19, 10am-noon. Every Tuesday, the same venue hosts free jewellery and watches valuations, 9.30am-4.30pm, and free silver valuations, 10am-4pm.

On February 21 coins, medals and militaria can be valued at Hansons from 10am-3pm and on February 23, sporting guns and firearms can be valued, by appointment, 10am-1pm.

Plus, Hansons hosts free valuation days every Wednesday, 5-7pm, every Friday, 10am-4pm, and every Saturday, 9am-noon. Free home visits are also available to assess antiques and collectables. To find out more, email [email protected] or call 01283 733988.