JEFFERY, Michael

1941 - 2013

Michael Jeffery

Born at Auckland, New Zealand on 15 August 1941, only son of schoolteachers. He attended Mount Albert Grammar School, where he displayed a flair for art and English. A cousin recalls him being infatuated with horses, and drawing them from an early age. On leaving school, he won a scholarship to the Elam School of Art. In the 1960s he travelled by ship to England, where he was accepted as a private pupil by Juliet McLeod [later Thorpe] (1917-1982), the foremost exponent of equine art in the classical Stubbs tradition. He studied under her for two years. After his return to New Zealand, he moved with his parents to Wellington, where his mother took up writing, publishing several novels. In 1972 he married Susan Loveday, who worked in publishing and later that year they moved to Melbourne, where Michael was given an annual commission to paint the horse of the year for the Victoria Racing Club collection. He acquired a reputation for equine portraiture among owners and trainers in Melbourne and Sydney. One of his early works was for the Tasmanian owners of 'Beer Street', winner of the 1970 Caulfield Cup. In 1987, by then he and Susan had two young children, decided to try his luck overseas but Susan was reluctant to take them to Europe and divorce ensued. Michael established himself at Chantilly, near Paris a training centre as well as a fashionable racecourse. After 10 years he was attracted to greener fields at the home of racing, Newmarket, Suffolk, where he remained for the rest of his life. A major client was the Aga Khan, who had the largest collection of finely bred horses in Europe. He moved to Newmarket in 1997 working in a studio at 7 All Saints Road and became a regular figure at the gallops winning the respect of many of the trainers and it was to be the base from which he travelled to Kentucky and Ireland, as well as France. The subject matter of his work broadened from the rather statuesque formal portraits to which he was accustomed, to the portrayal of strings of horses working in a landscape. He delighted in the streaky clouds of East Anglia and the setting of the gallops on the Heath and he adopted Stubbs' mode of building upon the skeletal structure of the horses he depicted. In the last two years of his life he was involved with a friend, the trainer Sir Henry Cecil, in a project to paint a large portrait of the champion horse Frankel and he died at Newmarket on 19 August 2013.

Works by This Painter