HENRY THOMAS ALKEN (1785-1851)

The most distinguished member of an artistic
dynasty, Henry Alken was the dominant sporting
artist of the early nineteenth century.



Henry Alken was born in Golden Square, Soho, London on 12 October
1785, the third son of Samuel Alken, read more...

The most distinguished member of an artistic
dynasty, Henry Alken was the dominant sporting
artist of the early nineteenth century.
Henry Alken was born in Golden Square, Soho, London on 12 October
1785, the third son of Samuel Alken, an architect and engraver of
Danish origin. Growing up in Bedford Square, he studied under his
father, and was apprenticed to the miniaturist John Thomas Barber.
During this apprenticeship, he exhibited two portrait miniatures at the
Royal Academy of Arts (1801-2), but seems not to have capitalised on
his initial exposure. Indeed, little certain is known about the artist
during the 1800s.
Alken married in Ipswich, Suffolk in 1809, and may have lived there
for some years. However, he seems to have mixed with the notorious
Meltonian hunting set, of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire – and it
has been suggested that he lived there, and worked as a horse breeder.
His earliest sporting prints were signed ‘Ben Tally Ho’ from 1813, and
under his own name from 1816. At this time, he had returned to
London, and was living in the Haymarket, over the shop of Thomas
McLean, the print publisher. By the end of the decade, he had settled
in Kentish Town.
During the 1820s, Alken was at his most skilful and successful,
producing many prints and illustrating numerous books, the subjects
ranging across comic and serious. Volumes included
The National Sports
of Great Britain
(1821), Real Life in London (1821-22), A Touch at the Fine
Arts
(1824) and Sporting Scrap Book (1824). And, while his work declined
in quality and popularity from the 1830s, he continued to work, and
proved a strong influence on such younger artists, as is suggested by his
illustrations to R S Surtees’
Jorrocks’ Jaunts and Jollities (1843), which
paved the way for John Leech.
Alken died in poverty on 7 April 1851 in Kentish Town. His funeral
was paid for by one of his sons-in-law.
Of his own children, Henry Thomas and Sefferein John became
artists, though Henry’s output includes many copies of works by
his father.
His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the
British Museum and the V&A; and the New York Public Library.

Early EnglishEquestrian SportsDogsHorses
Hunting & Shooting   
VIEW HALLO by HENRY THOMAS ALKEN

VIEW HALLO

TROTTING ON by HENRY THOMAS ALKEN

TROTTING ON

TALLY HO by HENRY THOMAS ALKEN

TALLY HO

WHIPPING IT by HENRY THOMAS ALKEN

WHIPPING IT

PERSIAN WITH HORSE by HENRY THOMAS ALKEN

PERSIAN WITH HORSE

   

Related Links

Related Publications