My Favourite Painting: Roger Weatherby

Roger Weatherby — the CEO of his family firm, Weatherbys Banking Group — chooses an equestrian picture from his family's collection, painted by one of his ancestors.

Roger Weatherby on Nipper by Seal Weatherby

Luckily, my great uncle — and prolific artist — ‘Seal’ Weatherby held onto many of his works, so they remain in our family. What I like about this one is its sense of freedom and how Seal uses so many rich colours to create Nipper’s contours and muscles. The way he paints feels ageless and accessible.

Seal went to Kashmir and travelled on horseback and I rode across Pakistan, so we have a bond and a shared passion for horses. When we celebrate the 250th anniversary of Weatherbys next year with an exhibition of Seal’s work, Nipper will have pride of place.
Roger Weatherby is CEO of Weatherbys Banking Group and architect of the Creating the Future conference, held on October 1.

John McEwen on Nipper

Weatherby is synonymous with horse-racing. The family has been the administrators and bankers for the Jockey Club since James Weatherby, a Northumbrian lawyer, was recruited to be its first secretary and keeper of the Match Book in 1770. In 1791, his nephew, also James, published his General Stud Book, the official register of Thoroughbreds still updated by the company every four years.

Richard Copeland Weatherby was the son of Edward, club secretary. He was seventh in a brood of nine, all of whom had nicknames. Richard’s was ‘Seal’; perhaps he liked swimming. Others were ‘Bones’ and ‘Guggs’.

After Horris Hill prep school, where a 7am cold bath was compulsory and there was a daily chasing game — Prisoners Base, which is still played — he went to Winchester.

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In 1903, he decided to be an artist. His training began at Frank Calderon’s School for Animal Painting and finished at the Royal Academy Schools. In 1913, he visited Cornwall, establishing a long connection with its artist colonies and hunts, including the Cury, of which he would be master. A notable friend was Alfred Munnings.

A shrapnel-shattered wrist, received when serving as cavalry officer in the First World War, almost stopped him being an artist, but, once recovered, he painted and hunted as he pleased, a private income freeing him from the drudgery of making a living.

All who knew him praised his ‘fun-loving nature’, but he left little trace. Only three letters survive. He was a member of various art societies, married at 62 and had his first proper one-man show the year before he died. Nipper was a favourite horse.

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