Imogen Mary Collier (1873-1952)

Imogen Mary Collier (1873-1952) was born in 1873 at Whitchurch, Devon, England. She was the daughter of Mortimer John Collier and Sophia Luddington Whipple. Known by the family as Dena, she lived her life in the family home “Foxhams” built by her father some years before in Horrabridge on the edge of Dartmoor. The family included painters of note, one of her uncles was A.B. Collier a well known West Country artist and another The Honourable John Collier, a painter and writer on art. Further her mother’s friend was Lady Elizabeth Butler, (painter of Scotland for Ever and other well known paintings), so surrounded as she was by artists and horses it is not surprising that her life followed a certain course. Dena’s mother Sophy was known to drive a trap, of unspecified type, with some skill and speed around the local district and the stud at Foxhams was thought to have come into being in 1888 when Dena was about fifteen. Later Collier studied art at the well known school founded by Mr. W. Frank Calderon, (son of Philip R.A.) The School of Animal Painting, in Baker Street, which no longer exists. His best known painting was the, Horse Fair (Royal Academy 1894). A fellow student at the school was Lionel Edwards. Collier carried off two art scholarships, (details are unknown), but she is believed to have spent some time in Paris where the family say she knew Gwen John, sister to Augustus John. She also  journeyed to Egypt and India, leaving paintings of camels as well as ponies to be enjoyed. Collier had two painting’s hung in the Royal Academy: 1899 In the Old Barn and 1904 Rocket - weight-carrying hunter at grass. Further she painted two presentation pictures, one of the late Mr Masheter, Master of the Essex Hunt and one of the late Mr Penn Sherbrook, Master of the Synington (Yorks) Hunt. She also painted several famous racing ponies for Baroness Burton of Douchfour Inverness.

All this activity was brought abruptly to an end when the Great War broke out. In 1914 all, ‘her stock’ was taken, fortunately one or two ponies were considered too highly strung for the army and were allowed to stay for breeding purposes. However all this and general restrictions brought about by the war, necessitated a change of direction. Dena now considered buying a thoroughbred stallion and breeding her own ponies. She bought the thoroughbred stallion Arthur’s Pride and the mare Old Love, and a very propitious decision this turned out to be because in 1917 she bred the mare New Love and in 1918 she bred her stallion Love Song, who was to become the centre of Foxhams Stud until 1938 when he died aged twenty. During this time Dena had met and married in 1916 Joseph Oscar Muntz. Sadly he was killed in 1918 and Dena carried on the stud at Foxhams. When Love Song died in 1938 she decided to sell most of her stud, keeping a few of the older mares for sentimental reasons. Imogen Mary Collier died in 1952.