#TROYTRIBE - Madeleine Bunbury

We caught up with talented equestrian painter and globetrotter Madeleine Bunbury on a recent trip to Pakistan to find out what brought her to such an unusual & interesting career...

Photographs by the talented Georgina Preston.

You came to art via the classical training of the Charles Cecil studios in Florence. How did you find your groove of equine portraiture?

Even before I went to Florence aged 17, I knew all I wanted to do was paint horses. Three years at Charles Cecil painting human portraits was the best way to learn the techniques of painting in a traditional style, I’ve taken all I learnt from Charles and tried to use the same method painting horses. I’m still figuring it out! 

Tell us a little about your technique and style in painting horses today.

I paint from life under natural light, which means I have to get the horse to stand and model for me while I paint for a couple of weeks. As you can imagine this can pose all sorts of problems but makes the challenge all the more interesting. I get to travel the world to paint in the most amazing locations in America, Argentina, Europe, India and Pakistan. Getting the horse to stand still and transporting canvases are the most difficult parts of the process, but it always seems to work out in the end.

What does your typical day look like -  do you have a routine for a painting day to ensure you achieve the best results?

I wish I had a routine, but with all the travelling I just have to go along with whatever suits the horses and owners. I do insist on having the horse pose for me at least one hour per day and it has to be at the same time of day each time to keep the sun and lighting in the correct place.

Who is your favourite old master, and most inspiring modern artist?

George Stubbs is my first and greatest inspiration, his portrait of Whistlejacket is the reason I’m so obsessed with painting life sized horses! As for living artists, I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for Charles Church, we paint in different styles but I’m always amazed by his skill in capturing horses, I hope I will be able to do the same some day. 

Recently, you travelled to Pakistan to paint the Desi horses as a part of your project  'Around the World in 80 Horses'. Tell us about this experience? What were the maddest moments?

My heart has been stolen by Pakistan, what a fabulous country it is, the media does not do it justice! I and a group of riders came here initially for a riding safari with the Nurpur Bundobast, hosted by the Noon family and the intrepid Bertie Alexander, from Dorset. We had a wild ride through the Punjabi landscape ending by having to swim our horses bareback across a swollen river. Riders and even horses went tumbling into the deep gullies, the loose horses then galloped off for five miles. Bertie  had to chase after them, still bareback, and ride all the way back with the naughty runaways in tow. We were amazed he was able to walk the next day. 

Who would your style inspiration be? 

Elizabeth Taylor, who looks exceptionally elegant on and off a horse, I wish I could be just like her! I have the chestnut racehorse, so I suppose I’m half way there…

What is in store for 2024?

“The Great British Breeds” is my project for the next two years. I will be painting life sized portraits of 18 of Britain's native horses and ponies to end with an enormous exhibition for all to see the variety of equines we have in our little island. So far I have painted the Welsh Cob and a British Spotted Pony.

You took a TROY edit with you on your travels, which pieces did you find the most useful?

The beautiful olive green linen shirt was the perfect colour for blending in to the landscapes we rode through, but the most useful would have to be the gilet, Pakistan in winter can be quite cold and this gilet with it’s double zip was exactly what I needed to keep me warm on the early morning rides - while still looking stylish.


You can find out more about Madeleine's beautiful artwork for sale and availability for commissions at her website or email her directly on madeleine.bunbury@gmail.com.

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