|Died||10 July 1806 (aged 81)|
|Works||A Lion Attacking a Horse, Whistlejacket|
George Stubbs Reynolds and Gainsborough. Stubbs' output includes history paintings, but his greatest skill was in painting animals, perhaps influenced by his love and study of anatomy. His series of paintings on the theme of a lion attacking a horse are early and significant examples of the Romantic movement that emerged in the late 18th century. He enjoyed royal patronage. His painting, Whistlejacket hangs in the National Gallery, London.(25 August 1724 – 10 July 1806) was an English painter, best known for his paintings of horses. Self-trained, Stubbs learnt his skills independently from other great artists of the 18th century such as
Stubbs was born in Liverpool, the son of a currier, or leather-dresser, John Stubbs, and his wife Mary. Information on his life until the age of 35 or so is sparse, relying almost entirely on notes made by Ozias Humphry, a fellow artist and friend; Humphry's informal memoir, which was not intended for publication, was based on a series of private conversations he had with Stubbs around 1794, when Stubbs was 70 years old, and Humphry 52.
Stubbs worked at his father's trade until the age of 15 or 16, at which point he told his father that he wished to become a painter. While initially resistant, Stubbs's father (who died not long after in 1741), eventually acquiesced in his son's choice of a career path, on the condition that he could find an appropriate mentor. Stubbs subsequently approached the Lancashire painter and engraver Hamlet Winstanley, and was briefly engaged by him in a sort of apprenticeship relationship, probably not more than several weeks in duration. Having initially demonstrated his abilities and agreed to do some copying work, Stubbs had access to and opportunity to study the collection at Knowsley Hall near Liverpool, the estate where Winstanley was then residing; however, he soon left when he came into conflict with the older artist over exactly which pictures he could work on copying.
Thereafter as an artist he was self-taught. He had had a passion for anatomy from his childhood, and in or around 1744, he moved to York, in the North of England, to pursue his ambition to study the subject under experts. In York, from 1745 to 1753, he worked as a portrait painter, and studied human anatomy under the surgeon Charles Atkinson, at York County Hospital, One of his earliest surviving works is a set of illustrations for a textbook on midwifery by John Burton, Essay towards a Complete New System of Midwifery, published in 1751.
In 1754 Stubbs visited Italy. Forty years later he told Ozias Humphry that his motive for going to Italy was, "to convince himself that nature was and is always superior to art whether Greek or Roman, and having renewed this conviction he immediately resolved upon returning home". In 1756 he rented a farmhouse in the village of Horkstow, Lincolnshire, and spent 18 months dissecting horses, assisted by his common-law wife, Mary Spencer. He moved to London in about 1759 and in 1766 published The anatomy of the Horse. The original drawings are now in the collection of the Royal Academy.
Even before his book was published, Stubbs's drawings were seen by leading aristocratic patrons, who recognised that his work was more accurate than that of earlier horse painters such as James Seymour, Peter Tillemans and John Wootton. In 1759 the 3rd Duke of Richmond commissioned three large pictures from him, and his career was soon secure. By 1763 he had produced works for several more dukes and other lords and was able to buy a house in Marylebone, a fashionable part of London, where he lived for the rest of his life.
A famous work, Whistlejacket, a painting of the thoroughbred race horse rising on his hind legs, commissioned by the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, is now in the National Gallery in London. This and two other paintings carried out for Rockingham break with convention in having plain backgrounds. Throughout the 1760s he produced a wide range of individual and group portraits of horses, sometimes accompanied by hounds. He often painted horses with their grooms, whom he always painted as individuals. Meanwhile, he also continued to accept commissions for portraits of people, including some group portraits. From 1761 to 1776 he exhibited at the Society of Artists of Great Britain, but in 1775 he switched his allegiance to the recently founded but already more prestigious Royal Academy of Arts.
Stubbs also painted more exotic animals including lions, tigers, giraffes, monkeys, and rhinoceroses, which he was able to observe in private menageries.
His painting of a kangaroo was the first glimpse of this animal for many 18th-century Britons. He became preoccupied with the theme of a wild horse threatened by a lion and produced several variations on this theme. These and other works became well known at the time through engravings of Stubbs's work, which appeared in increasing numbers in the 1770s and 1780s.
Stubbs also painted historical pictures, but these are much less well regarded. From the late 1760s he produced some work on enamel. In the 1770s Josiah Wedgwood developed a new and larger type of enamel panel at Stubbs's request. Stubbs hoped to achieve commercial success with his paintings in enamel, but the venture left him in debt. Also in the 1770s he painted single portraits of dogs for the first time, while also receiving an increasing number of commissions to paint hunts with their packs of hounds. He remained active into his old age. In the 1780s he produced a pastoral series called Haymakers and Reapers, and in the early 1790s he enjoyed the patronage of the Prince of Wales, whom he painted on horseback in 1791. His last project, begun in 1795, was A comparative anatomical exposition of the structure of the human body with that of a tiger and a common fowl, fifteen engravings from which appeared between 1804 and 1806. The project was left unfinished upon Stubbs's death. He died at the age of 81 on 10 July 1806 at the home he had lived in since 1763, No.24 Somerset Street, near Portman Square, Marylebone, central London. He was buried on 18 July in the graveyard of St Marylebone Parish Church, now a garden of rest.
Stubbs's son George Townly Stubbs was an engraver and printmaker.
A lion attacking a horse
Stubbs began an informal series of works on the subject of a lion attacking a horse around 1762 or 1763, and he continued to explore and reinterpret the theme in at least 17 images over a period of about 30 years. These paintings are among his most celebrated and influential works.: 90 p. One art historian wrote "The appearance of the monumental picture now in the Mellon Collection [A Lion Attacking a Horse, ca. 1762-63] must be treated as one of the outstanding events in English eighteenth-century art for within the context of painting at that date its singularity as well as its inherent originality is most striking. Not since the publication of Hogarth's Harlot's Progress thirty years before had there occurred such an innovation.": 86 p. The iconic paintings are in fact among the earliest manifestations of Romanticism in painting, predating the work of more familiar masters of the movement such as William Blake, Eugène Delacroix, Francisco Goya, William Turner, and Théodore Géricault, who was known to be an admirer of both horses, and the work of George Stubbs.: 585 p. : 109 p. Jean Clay, professor of art history at the University of Paris, perceptively observed that not only does the energy and terror of the animals foreshadow the spirit of romanticism but, as Stubbs's series progressed, the horror seemed to diffuse and expand throughout the whole of the landscape: "an image that would fertilize the Romantic imagination and come to full flower a half-century later.": 150 p.
The series are mostly oil paintings on canvas, but also include examples of enamel on copper, original engravings, and even a relief model in Wedgwood clay. The white horse was painted from one of the Kings Horses in the Mews, secured for the artist by an architect friend, Mr. Payne. Stubbs was able to study a lion in life that was in the menagerie of Lord Shellburne at Hounslow Heath.: 90 p. The earliest work is a life-size painting of A Lion Attacking a Horse (ca. 1762-63), which was commissioned by the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham and now in the Yale Center for British Art. Art historian Basil Taylor postulated the theme was treated in three distinct episodes: Episode A, a lion prowling at some distance from a terrified horse; Episode B, a lion close to a terrified horse; Episode C a lion on the horse's back biting its flank. Interestingly, Stubbs first painted "Episode C", and it was not until later that he was inspired to go back and paint the moments leading up to the climatic event.: 81–82 p.
An anecdote regarding the origin of the subject matter emerged soon after the artist death, originally published in The Sporting Magazine in 1808, and reiterate often for well over a century and a half. Art historian H. W. Janson repeated it "On a visit to North Africa, he had seen a horse killed by a lion; this experience haunted his imagination, and from it he developed a new type of animal picture full of Romantic feeling for the grandeur and violence of nature.": 567 p. However, research published in 1965 produced a rather persuasive argument that Stubbs in fact never traveled to Africa, and the actual inspiration for the painting was an antique sculpture he had seen in a well documented 1754 stay in Rome. The sculpture, Lion Seizing a Horse, in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome, is a restored Roman copy of a Hellenistic original. It has been a celebrated work since the Renaissance, admired by Michelangelo, included in guidebooks of Stubbs's day, and copied any number of times by various artist in marble, bronze, and prints, including an 18th century marble copy in the collection of Stubbs's patron Henry Blundell, who also acquired one of the paintings by Stubbs.: 90–91 p. 
A Lion Attacking a Horse (ca. 1762-63), oil on canvas, 243.8 x 332.7 cm., Yale Center for British Art
Horse Devoured by a Lion (1763), oil on canvas, 69.2 x 103.5 cm., Tate Britain
Horse Frightened by a Lion (ca. 1763 -1768), oil on canvas, 70.5 x 104.1 cm., Yale Center for British Art
A Lion Attacking a Horse (1765) oil on canvas, 69 x 100.1 cm., National Gallery of Victoria
A Lion Attacking a Horse (1770), oil on canvas, 38 in. x 49 1/2in., Yale Center for British Art
Stubbs remained a secondary figure in British art until the mid-twentieth century. The art historian Basil Taylor and art collector Paul Mellon both championed Stubbs's work. Stubbs's Pumpkin with a Stable-lad was the first painting that Mellon bought in 1936. Basil Taylor was commissioned in 1955 by Pelican Press to write the book Animal Painting in England – From Barlow to Landseer, which included a large segment on Stubbs. In 1959 Mellon and Taylor first met and bonded over their appreciation of Stubbs. This led Mellon to create the Paul Mellon Foundation for British Art (the predecessor of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art) with Taylor as the director. Mellon eventually amassed the largest collection of Stubbs paintings in the world which would become a part of his larger collection of British art that would become the Yale Center for British Art in Connecticut, USA. In 1971, Taylor published the seminal catalogue, Stubbs.
The record price for a Stubbs painting was set by the sale at auction of Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, with a Trainer, a Stable-Lad, and a Jockey (1765) at Christie's in London in July 2011 for £22.4 million. It was sold by The Woolavington Collection of sporting art at Cottesbrooke Hall, Northamptonshire; the buyer was unidentified. 
Two paintings by Stubbs were bought by the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London after a public appeal to raise the £1.5 million required. The two paintings, The Kongouro from New Holland and Portrait of a Large Dog were both painted in 1772. Depicting a kangaroo and a dingo respectively, they are the first depictions of Australian animals in Western art.
His work was shown in a retrospective exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, 27 February – 7 April 1957. The Tate Britain, in conjunction with the Yale Center for British Art, organized the largest exhibition ever devoted to Stubbs (up to that time) in 1984, which travelled to New Haven in 1985.: 7 p.
Racehorses Exercising at Goodwood (1759–60), oil on canvas, 127.5 x 204 cm.. Goodwood House
Joseph Smyth Esq, Lieutenant of Whittlebury Forest, Northamptonshire, on a Dapple Grey Horse (1762–64), oil on canvas, 64.2 x 76.8 cm., Fitzwilliam Museum
Hound Coursing a Stag (ca. 1762), oil on canvas, 100.1 x 125.8 cm., Philadelphia Museum of Art
Cheetah and Stag with Two Indians (ca. 1765), oil on canvas, 182.7 x 275.3 cm., Manchester Art Gallery
Captain Samuel Sharpe Pocklington with His Wife, Pleasance, and possibly His Sister, Frances (1769), oil on canvas, 100.2 x 126.6 cm., National Gallery of Art
Reapers (1785), oil on canvas, 90 x 137 cm., Tate Britain
Haymakers (1785), oil on panel, 89.5 x 132.5 cm., Tate Britain
Bulls Fighting (1786), oil on panel, 61.6 x 82.6 cm., Yale Center for British Art
The Farmer's Wife and the Raven (1786), oil on millboard, 67.3 x 97.8 cm., Yale Center for British Art
Soldiers of the 10th Light Dragoons (1793), oil on canvas, 102 x 128 cm., Royal Art Collection
Mares and Foals in a Landscape (1763–68), oil on canvas, 102 x 162 cm., Tate Britain
The Third Duke of Dorset's Hunter with a Groom and a Dog (1768), oil on canvas, 101.6 x 126.4 cm., Metropolitan Museum of Art
A Saddled Bay Hunter (1786), oil on panel, 48.2 x 57.7 cm., Denver Art Museum
Hambletonian, Rubbing Down (1800), oil on canvas, 209 x 367.3 cm., National Trust, Mount Stewart
The Pointer (ca. 1766), oil on canvas, 61 x 70 cm., Neue Pinakothek
Water Spaniel (1769), oil on canvas, 90.2 x 116.8 cm., Yale Center for British Art
Brown and White Norfolk or Water Spaniel (1778), oil on panel, 80.6 x 97.2 cm., Yale Center for British Art
White Poodle in a Punt (ca. 1780), oil on canvas, 127 x 101.5 cm., National Gallery of Art
A Couple of Foxhounds (1792), oil on canvas, 127 x 101.6 cm., Tate Britain
Black and White Spaniel Following a Scent (1793), oil on canvas, 25 x 30 in., Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Zebra (1763), oil on canvas, 102.9 x 127.6 cm., Yale Center for British Art
The Moose (1770), oil on canvas, 61 x 70.5 cm., Hunterian Art Gallery
Two Leopards (c. 1776), oil on panel, 90.5 x 137.4 cm., private collection
Greenland Falcon (1780), oil on panel, 81.3 x 99.1 cm., Yale Center for British Art
Rhinoceros (ca. 1780-91), oil on canvas, 69.9 x 92.7 cm., private collection
The Monkey (1799), oil on canvas, 70 x 55.9 cm., Walker Art Gallery
List of selected artworks
- In the Yale Center for British Art
In the Tate Gallery
- In the Royal Collection
- In the National Museums Liverpool
- In the National Gallery, London
- Whistlejacket (1762)
- A Gentleman driving a Lady in a Phaeton (1787)
- The Milbanke and Melbourne Families (c.1769)
- Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow
- The Moose (1770)
- The Nilgai (1769)
- A Blackbuck (1770–1780)
- The Yak of Tartary (1791)
- Rhinoceros (1790–1792)
- Drill and Albino Baboon (before 1789)
- A Pointer (a pair)
- A Spaniel (a pair)
- Lord Clanbrassil with Hunter Mowbrary (1769)
- Fighting Stallions (1791)
- National Gallery of Art, Washington
- Captain Samuel Sharpe Pocklington with His Wife, Pleasance, and possibly His Sister, Frances (1769)
- White Poodle in a Punt (c. 1780)
- Goose with Outspread Wings
- Lions and a Lioness with a Rocky Background (1776)
- The Portland Collection
- The 3rd Duke of Portland on horseback at Welbeck Abbey
- William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland and his younger brother Lord Edward
- Egerton, Judy (2007). George Stubbs, Painter: Catalogue raisonné. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300125092. p. 10.
- Monkhouse, William Cosmo (1898). "Stubbs, George (1724–1806)". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 55. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 113–116.
- Egerton (2007), p. 12.
- Egerton (2007), p. 13.
- Egerton (2007), p. 16.
- "Chronology" (p. 12–13), in: George Stubbs, 1724–1806. Tate Gallery Publications; Yale Center for British Art. Salem, NH: Salem House, 1985. ISBN 0881620386. Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Tate Gallery, London, 17 October 1984 – 6 January1985, and at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn., 13 February – 7 April 1985; paintings for the exhibition selected by Judy Egerton, Assistant Keeper of the British Collection (Foreword).
- The Great Artists: part 50: Stubbs. 1985. London: Marshall Cavendish Ltd. p. 1571.
- The Great Artists: part 50: Stubbs. 1985. London: Marshall Cavendish Ltd. p. 1572.
- The i newspaper. 21 June 2013. p. 2.[title missing]
- The Great Artists: part 50: Stubbs. 1985. London: Marshall Cavendish Ltd. p. 1574.
- Egerton, Judy. 1984. George Stubbs 1724-1806. Tate Gallery Publications. Milbank, London. 248 pp. ISBN 0-946590-12-5
- Taylor, Basil. 1965. George Stubbs: "The Lion and the Horse" Theme. The Burlington Magazine, 107 (743): 81-87
- Janson, H. W. 1977. History of Art: A Survey of the Major Visual Arts from the Dawn of History to the Present Day (2nd, edition). Harry N. Abrams, Inc., publishers. New York, 767 pp. ISBN 0-8109-1052-7
- Claudon, Francis. 1980. The Concise Encyclopedia of Romanticism. Chartwell Books, Inc. Secaucus, New Jersey. 304 pp. ISBN 0-89009-707-0
- Clay, Jean. 1980. Roamanticism. Chartwell Books, Inc. Secaucus, New Jersey. 320 pp. ISBN 0-89009-588-4
- Angus Trumble (January 2007). "Collection Record: Pumpkin with a Stable-lad". Yale Center for British Art.
- "History of the Paul Mellon Centre 1962–1969". Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. Archived from the original on 29 April 2018. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
- "George Stubbs in the Collection of Paul Mellon: A Memorial Exhibition". Yale Center for British Art. Archived from the original on 17 September 2019. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
- Basil, Taylor (1971). Stubbs. London: Phaidon Press. ISBN 0-714-81498-9.
- Scott Reyburn (6 July 2011). "Stubbs, Gainsborough Records Boost $80 Million Auction". Bloomberg.
- "Search results: George Stubbs (1724–1806)". Royal Collection.
- "George Stubbs' kangaroo and dingo paintings to stay in UK". BBC News Online. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
- Whitechapel Gallery
- Boyle, Frederick & Mayer, Joseph. Memoirs of Thomas Dodd, William Upcott, and George Stubbs, R.A. (Liverpool: D. Marples, 1879).
- Egerton, Judy. George Stubbs, 1724–1806 (Tate Gallery Publications, 1984).
- Egerton, Judy. George Stubbs, Painter. Catalogue Raisonné (New Haven and London: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, 2007) ISBN 978-0-300-12509-2
- Rump, Gerhard C. Pferde und Jagdbilder in der englischen Kunst. Studien zu George Stubbs und dem Genre der "Sporting Art" von 1650–1830 (Olms: Hildesheim, New York, 1983) ISBN 3-487-07425-7
- Gilbey, Walter. Animal Painters of England from the Year 1650, Volume 2 (Vinton, 1900) p. 192 ff.
- Morrison, Venetia. Art of George Stubbs (Headline Book Pub., 1989).
- Myrone, Martin. George Stubbs (British Artists series) (Tate Publishing, 2002).
- Taylor, Basil. Stubbs (London: Phaidon Prees, 1971) ISBN 0-714-81498-9
- 71 artworks by or after George Stubbs at the Art UK site
- George Stubbs online (Artcyclopedia)
- George Stubbs – a celebration (Walker Art Gallery)
- George Stubbs (Encyclopedia of Irish and World Art)
- George Stubbs's biography (Mezzo Mundo Fine Art)
- Paintings by George Stubbs (Tate Gallery)
- Profile on Royal Academy of Arts Collections
- Selected images from Anatomy of the Horse From The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Digital Library
- Judy Egerton archive