In a recent Country Life article, Michael Clayton proclaims The Mockers by Lionel Edwards to be his favorite painting.
Clayton is former editor of Horse and Hound, author of numerous books, and well-known as Foxford for his long-running series of hunting reports in “Foxford’s Hunting Diary.” Clayton has probably hunted with every hunt in the UK over his long career as a sporting correspondent, and has personally known certainly all of the British contemporary artists of note. Because I respect Clayton’s opinion, because I’ve loved Lionel Edwards’s work ever since I first started hunting, and because I was sufficiently struck by the drama of the scene, I thought that Foxhunting Life readers might appreciate the painting as well.
“I have seen foxes ‘mocked’ in this way by birds,” says Clayton in the Country Life article. “It symbolises just how tough nature can be.”
Indeed, the fox is not only running from a pack of hounds, seen as mere white dots in the far distance at the left, but is being cruelly mobbed by the diving, swarming crows. The masterful rendering of the landscape under a somber sky, typical to the English Shires, was one of Lionel Edwards’s special talents. What was not so typical was this view of quarry and birds in the foreground, with horses and hounds—Edwards’s usual subjects—mere suggestions in the background.