Neil Cawthorn was born in Leicester in 1936, and from his childhood onwards, horses have always played an important role in his life. Coming from a hunting background, Cawthorne learned to paint from the artist John Kenney, who also lived and worked in Leicestershire. Following a number of exhibitions, Cawthorne honed his skills as an equestrian artist, and in 1971 was commissioned by Sporting Live to paint 'Mill Reef' and 'Brigadier Gerard'. In 1975 and 1976, he began exhibiting in America and London.
Cawthorne's life was constantly surrounded by horses. During the past 15 years, he painted many Classic, Grand National, and other big race winners. In 1979, he helped found the Society of Equestrian Artists. He quickly found success in the UK and abroad as an accomplished and skillful equestrian artist, and amongst other work, he was one of the four artists invited to paint a picture of Royal Ascot to commemorate the Queen's Forty Years Reign.
Whilst most of his work is taken up with commissions, he still finds the inspiration of the racecourse, training grounds, and hunting field as strong as ever, and is still concerned with conveying the passion, movement, atmosphere, and excitement of those environments that so captivate him. Indeed, Cawthorne emphasises the importance of a first hand relationship with one's subject, and, as well as riding out regularly, he spends a great deal of time at stables, helping him observe, absorb, and 'feel' both the horses and the way of life.
Cawthorne also participates in racing, holding an Amateur Licence and owning a number of racehorses. His paintings feature in a number of private collections, including those of HRH The Prince of Wales, Duke of Beaufort, Lord Harrington, Lord Vestey P. Mellon Esq, Bertram Firestone, Major Ivan Straker, and Ivan Allen, Esq.