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English painter Sarah Ferneley was born in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire in 1811. She was the daughter of the celebrated sporting and portrait painter John E. Ferneley (1782 – 1860), whose patrons included members of the Royal Family, as well as the iconic Regency socialite Beau Brummell. It was perhaps inevitable therefore that she became a respected artist in her own right, as did her two brothers, John, known to posterity as John Ferneley Jnr., and Claude Lorraine. Known for her beauty and her love of horse riding, she was married to fellow artist Henry Johnson in 1838. Widowed in 1850, Ferneley returned to her family home, Elgin Lodge, were she stayed with her father until his death in 1860.
Whilst remaining more obscure than is perhaps warranted by the quality of her watercolours and her occasional oil paintings, she was able to exhibit at the Royal Academy at least once, in 1829.