Charlie Johnson Payne (Snaffles), was born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, on 17th January 1884. His earliest childhood memories were of the Warwickshire Yeomanry Cavalry parading through the streets of Warwick and of the exciting and colourful stories told by his great uncle of the Crimean War. From these memories came Snaffles’ interest in horses and the military, an interest that led him to become one of the foremost sporting and military artists of the 20th Century.
Snaffles commercial career really began when he was sent to France in 1914 to report on the War. The first of his sketches were printed in “The Graphic” in November 1914 and the flow of work from France was seemingly unstemmable, although his eye for detail never suffered at the hand of speed. The patriotic essence of his war work proved popular at home and this led to the reworking of many of his sketches into prints, which were eagerly awaited by his growing following of collectors.
Between 1918 and 1939, Snaffles produced over sixty titles of prints covering hunting, polo, pig-sticking and racing scenes, drawing on his experiences and travels in India and Ireland, as well as in the U.K. Sadly, much of Snaffles’ original work was destroyed in a warehouse fire at the end of WWII, and therefore the original work that does exist is highly prized. Snaffles prints were never produced in limited editions, so it is unknown how many were produced and sold, however, much of his early printed work was extensively hand coloured and as such these pieces are regarded as works of art in their own right.
This print, which will be shown at Goffs Landrover Sale, “Great Banks there was below in the Fields”, is a pair alongside “Biggest Walls” and is one of Snaffles most popular prints. It depicts the Island Hunt in North County Wexford jumping a double bank which would be very common in the area. In the distance the Huntsman (not a friend of Snaffles) is pictured stuck in a drain!