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Sporting Art, Birds, Moor Hens, James Barenger, Antique Print, London, 1811


James Barenger (1780-after 1831) (after)
Charles A.E. Turner (c. 1773-1857) (engraver)
Moor Hens
R. Ackermann’s Repository of Arts,
London: c. 1811
Uncolored mezzotint
14 x 17.25 inches, image
14.5 x 18 inches, overall

Mezzotint of two moor hens, showing their typical behavior in their natural environment of the marshy waters of a lake. One paddles in the water while the other is somewhat whimsically portrayed upended, feeding in the water with its head submerged and the motion of its waving feet echoed by the marsh grasses. It is skillfully engraved by the eminent British mezzotint artist Charles A.E. Turner, with a rich and subtle tonal range. Moor Hens was part of a series of 14 prints of the most important species of English wildfowl and game birds entitled “British Feather Game.”

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The artist, James Barenger was born into a family of artists. His father exhibited paintings of insects at the Royal Academy between 1793 and 1799, and he was the nephew of William Woollett, the celebrated engraver. Barenger was well known as a painter of racehorses and dogs. He also painted park scenery, introducing deer, birds and other animals. A keen sportsman with a natural eye for detail, he brought an appealing realism to his works, which were exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1807 and 1831. From 1815 onwards he exhibited the majority of his pictures at Mr. Tattersall’s auction rooms in London, where they were well received by a diverse audience. He also earned a number of commissions from the Earl of Derby, The Duke of Grafton, and the Marquess of Londonderry. His work was widely engraved by some of the most fashionable engravers of the day, and these prints remain prized by sporting art collectors.

The engraver, Charles A.E. Turner, entered the Royal Academy schools in 1795 and began his career producing engravings in Bartolozzi’s style for Boydell. He later devised a technique combining mezzotint and aquatint and became one of the most eminent English engravers, making prints after the works of the foremost English painters of his day, including J.M.W. Turner’s Liber Studiorum, Lawrence and Joshua Reynolds. By 1828, Charles Turner was elected an associate engraver of the Royal Academy and appointed mezzotint engraver to the King.

Ackermann & Co. was a prominent British publisher and printseller. The firm was founded by Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1834), publishing as R. Ackermann from 1795 to 1829. Ackermann was born in Germany and came to England in the 1780s. He pioneered lithography in Britain (though frequently working with color-printed etchings and aquatints), and became a leading publisher of fine colorplate books, decorative prints and magazines, as well as sheet music of the Regency period. In 1797, Ackermann relocated the business premises to 101 Strand, which were known by 1798 as “The Repository of Arts,” also the title of a periodical with a large number of prints that he published from 1809 to 1828. As suggested by the full title of the publication, Ackermann’s Repository of the Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, the subject matter of the Repository was wide ranging. Among the most influential and popular images in the series were studies of Regency decorative arts, interior design and fashion, as well as various city and country views. Ackermann was a major patron of British artists and designers, notably the famous caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), whose works were featured in the famous set of London interiors and exteriors entitled Microcosm of London (R. Ackermann, London, 1808-10). Ackermann also manufactured and sold art supplies. In 1829, Rudolph transferred the business to three of his sons, who traded as Ackermann & Co. from 1829 to 1859. The business continued until the end of the 20th Century, last operating as Arthur Ackermann and Son (with offices in the 20th Century in London, Paris, Chicago and New York).

Full publication information: R. Ackermann’s, 101 Strand, London.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall toning, wear, soft creases. Minor surface abrasion restored. Margins a bit short; trimmed within plate mark in bottom margin.


Maxted, Ian. “The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. U.K.: Devon Library and Information Services. 24 January 2005. (4 May 2007).

Redgrave, Samuel. A Dictionary of Artists of the English School: Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers and Ornamentists. London: Longmans, Green, and Col., 1874. p. 22 (Barenger), p. 415 (Turner).

“Rudolph Ackermann.” National Portrait Gallery. May 2007. (4 May 2007).

Siltzer, The Story of British Sporting Prints, p. 77-79.

Williamson, George C., ed. Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. London: G. Bell and Sons: 1930. Vol. 1, p. 83. Vol. 5, p. 213 (Turner).

Additional information


19th C. Birds