Robert Colling | 1903
Updated: Nov 13
Co-founder of the Shorthorn cattle breed.
1749-1820 | Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936); Original double portrait by James R. Stuart
Impact & Accomplishments
A double portrait of Charles and Robert Colling was one of the first works painted by James Stuart, when the Saddle & Sirloin collection was founded in 1903. When repainted after the 1934 fire, the brothers were framed as separate works.
Charles and Robert Colling, of the County Durham in northern England, are considered the founders of the Shorthorn breed. The Colling brothers learned line breeding from Robert Bakewell and applied these techniques to four cows purchased by Charles in 1783 and to Robert’s bull Hubback. In 1810, the bull Comet—a result of these bloodlines—became the first bull to sell for 1,000 guineas. Adding to the Colling brothers’ legend was Favourite, known as the “Durham Ox,” also from Hubback’s bloodline. This massive and impressive castrated bull was purchased by a man who had a custom carriage built to tour the animal throughout England and Scotland.
Appearing at fairs and other events over a period of several years, the Durham Ox helped establish the standards to define the Shorthorn breed and brought renown to the Colling brothers. Engravings of the animal were popular prints at the time, and one such print was hung in the Saddle & Sirloin Club in Chicago.
Did You Know?
Etching of the Durham Ox by John Boultbee (1753–1812)
Photo of The Bull "Comet" painted by Thomas Weaver, 1811. The Colling Bros. most famous Shorthorn Bull of the 19th Century being the first to take a thousand gns at auction. Copyright Blackbrook Gallery.