My Favourite Painting: Joanna Jensen

The Childs Farm founder Joanna Jensen on a 'bruiser' bull.

Joanna Jensen on ‘Charolais Bull under Bulbrarrow’ by Charles Church

‘I’ve known Charlie Church for many years and am lucky enough to have a number of his paintings, including a couple of commissions. I’m a super fan. This chap just looks like such a bruiser; the result of years of meticulous breeding by dedicated farmers – he must be a total stud muffin.’

‘As he stands out in his brilliant white against this perfect Dorset backdrop, I can almost feel the warmth of the sun on his back and the gentle breeze of the summer wind. I can hear the lowing of his expectant girlfriends and the trill of summer birds watching their pre-action courtship. This is a picture of my England and, even when it’s endlessly raining outside, it’s always a summer day in the room where he hangs.’

Joanna Jensen is the founder of baby and child brand Childs Farm and an investor in and mentor for British female-founded businesses

Charlotte Mullins comments on ‘Charolais Bull under Bulbarrow’

Charles Church began to paint animals at a young age, but it was a two-year apprenticeship in Florence that enabled him to finesse his style. Today, the Italian city is the Western epicentre of traditional portrait training and it is this early grounding in form that Mr Church has carried into his professional career. He still paints portraits (including the Sultan of Oman in 2005), but he is best known as an equestrian artist and a painter of country life.

This depiction of a Charolais bull was the catalogue cover star at Mr Church’s 2022 London exhibition, ‘Pastures New’. Charolais bulls can weigh more than 1½ tons; every muscle bulges under the sleek hide of this prime specimen. Mr Church displays him in profile against Bulbarrow Hill, near Blandford Forum, Dorset. His hooves sink into rich pasture and he stands with his back to the early evening sun, an ear casting a shadow over his face as he paces slowly forwards.

Mr Church painted cattle, pigs and hounds for ‘Pastures New’, as well as a number of luminous landscapes of Scottish islands Iona, Mull and Skye. However, solo exhibitions of his work are rare because he mostly works on commission. He specialises in racehorses and has painted Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised, Epsom Derby winner Pour Moi and international champion Goldikova. The artist’s ability to capture both the anatomical likeness of an animal and its spirit led to The King praising him for his ‘unique sensitivity and profound understanding of his subject matter’.

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