Alfred Wheeler was a British painter of hunting scenes and animals: horses in particular. He was born in 1851 near Bath in Somerset, the second son of John Alfred Wheeler (1821-1877). His father, who was the son of a stone-cutter, joined the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, the Bays, where he acquired a good knowledge of horses. On his discharge in 1847, he took up sporting painting, eventually becoming a distinguished equestrian painter. Alfred Wheeler, the second son of John Alfred Wheeler, studied closely under his father and eventually worked together with him. Alfred Wheeler was married in 1874 to Catherine Muspratt and they moved into the house next door to his father at Raglan Villas, Bath. When his father moved in 1877 to Hanwell to be nearer to his important London patrons, Alfred followed. He had six children, of whom two became painters, with Walter Herbert (1878-1960) becoming a landscape and animal painter and Frederick John (1875-1930) becoming a black and white artist.
Alfred Wheeler specialised in painting equestrian hunting scenes and sporting scenes. Wheeler made a very lucrative living during his lifetime as a commissioned artist, painting the gentry’s horses and dogs. Although he exhibited periodically at the Royal Academy and other major art institutions, he was mainly kept busy painting his commissions, with notable clients and patrons including the Prince of Wales and the Baron Rothschild. Notable paintings include his portrait of “Ladas”, a bay horse foaled in 1891, which is in the Charles H. Theriot Collection in New York, as well as the portraits of “Flying Fox”, the “Persimmon” winner of the 1896 derby, and “Merry Hampton” dated 1887. He died in 1932.
As an artist, Alfred Wheeler’s style and subject matter is very similar to his father’s, John Alfred Wheeler, and as they often signed their paintings in similar ways, both frequently signing “J.A. Wheeler” and “A. Wheeler senior”, there is much confusion between their work. Alfred’s work is considered to be lighter and more photographic than that of his father, and although he is thought to have been less prolific, he helped his father extensively and the two often collaborated on paintings for their shared patrons. Today, Alfred Wheeler’s horse portraits and hunting scenes are highly sought after and, like his father’s, are considered to be of the highest quality.