JEFFERY, Michael

1941 - 2013

Michael Jeffery

Michael Jeffery was 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 and a cousin recalls him being infatuated with horses and drawing them from an early age and, on leaving school, won a scholarship to the Elam School of Art, University of Auckland. On 27 March 1961, he emigrated 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 and studied under her for two years. After his return to New Zealand in 1967, together with his parents, he moved to Wellington, where his mother wrote and published 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 and one of his early works was for the Tasmanian owners of 'Beer Street', winner of the 1970 Caulfield Cup. In 1987, when he and Susan had two young children, they divorced when Michael decided to try his luck overseas establishing himself at Chantilly, near Paris, a training centre as well as a fashionable racecourse. Ten years later he was attracted to the home of racing at Newmarket, Suffolk, where a major client was the Aga Khan, who had then the largest collection of finely bred horses in Europe. Michael moved to Newmarket in 1997 working in a studio at 7 All Saints Road becoming a regular figure at the gallops winning the respect of many of the trainers. It was to be the base from which he travelled to Kentucky and Ireland, as well as France but Newmarket remained his home for the rest of his life. The subject matter of his work broadened from the 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. 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'. Michael Jeffery died at Newmarket on 19 August 2013.

Works by This Artist