A self-portrait by George Stubbs
|Born||25 August 1724|
|Died||10 July 1806 (aged 81)|
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.
His most famous work is probably Whistlejacket, a painting of the thoroughbred race horse rising on his hind legs, commissioned by the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, which 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 at the age of 81 on 10 July 1806, in London. He was buried in the graveyard of Marylebone Church, now a public garden.
Stubbs's son George Townly Stubbs was an engraver and printmaker.
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 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 British Woolavington Collection of sporting art; the buyer was unidentified. 
The British Royal Collection holds 16 paintings by Stubbs.
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.
Events from the year 1762 in art.1763 in art
Events from the year 1763 in art.Animal painter
An animal painter is an artist who specialises in (or is known for their skill in) the portrayal of animals.
The OED dates the first express use of the term "animal painter" to the mid-18th century: by English physician, naturalist and writer John Berkenhout (1726-1791). From the early 20th century, wildlife artist became a more usual term for contemporary animal painters.Animalier school
Animalier school or animalier movement was a roughly late 18th century to late 19th century movement and school of art, which took as its subject in various figurative forms the animal kingdom or Kingdom Animalia. The movement predominantly centered around Paris, France, and Italy, with some offshoots in England, Germany, and North America.
Some examples of animalier artists and their subjects are George Stubbs and Jules Moigniez (paintings and sculpture of horses), Antoine-Louis Barye (sculpture of bulls and humans), and Rembrandt Bugatti (felines, human figures, and zoo animals).Benjamin Marshall
Benjamin Marshall (8 November 1768 – 29 January 1835) was an English sporting and animal painter. He was a follower of George Stubbs and studied under Lemuel Abbott for three years.Dead Man's Folly
Dead Man's Folly is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie, first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in October 1956 and in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 5 November of the same year. The US edition retailed at $2.95 and the UK edition at twelve shillings and sixpence (12/6). It features Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver.Duncan Stubbs
Wing Commander Duncan Joseph George Stubbs (born 1961) was the RAF Music Services' Principal Director of Music.Stubbs joined the Royal Air force in 1983, initially serving as a member of the Service's Central Band. He was granted a commission as a flying officer in March 1990.Gimcrack
Gimcrack (1760 – after 1777) was an English thoroughbred racehorse.Hambletonian (horse)
Hambletonian, was one of the best Thoroughbred racehorses of the late 18th century, having won all of his race starts, except one, and was later a good sire. His victories included two Doncaster Cups in the late 1790s and the St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster in 1795.Human uses of animals
Human uses of animals include both practical uses, such as the production of food and clothing, and symbolic uses, such as in art, literature, mythology, and religion. Animals used in these ways include fish, crustaceans, insects, molluscs, mammals and birds.
Economically, animals provide much of the meat eaten by the human population, whether farmed or hunted, and until the arrival of mechanised transport, terrestrial mammals provided a large part of the power used for work and transport. Animals serve as models in biological research, such as in genetics, and in drug testing.
Many species are kept as pets, the most popular being mammals, especially dogs and cats. These are often anthropomorphised.
Animals such as horses and deer are among the earliest subjects of art, being found in the Upper Paleolithic cave paintings such as at Lascaux. Major artists such as Albrecht Dürer, George Stubbs and Edwin Landseer are known for their portraits of animals. Animals further play a wide variety of roles in literature, film, mythology, and religion.John Boultbee (artist)
John Boultbee (Artist) (1753–1812) was an English painter of equestrian and other sporting subjects. He was born in Osgathorpe, Leicestershire on 4 June 1753 and died in Liverpool on 30 November 1812. Boultbee entered the Royal Academy School in 1775 and became a pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds exhibiting in London, including at the Royal Academy, from that date.
John Boultbee was greatly admired by George III, who commissioned several horse-portraits by him and assigned him a residence in Windsor Great Park so that he might carry out his painting duties more conveniently. Boultbee was influenced by the work of George Stubbs, and Sawrey Gilpin. Later in life he lived and worked in Derby, Leicestershire, Chester and finally Liverpool where he died in 1812.John Ferneley
John E. Ferneley (18 May 1782 Thrussington, Leicestershire – 1860 Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire), was an English painter who specialised in portraying sporting horses and hunting scenes. Although his rendition of horses was stylised, he is regarded as one of the great British equine artists, second perhaps only to George Stubbs.Judy Egerton
Judith Emilie Egerton (7 August 1928 – 21 March 2012) was an Australian-born British art historian and curator. She specialised in eighteenth-century British art and, particularly, the work of George Stubbs.Lewis Stubbs
Lewis St. George Stubbs (June 14, 1878-May 12, 1958) was a prominent judge and politician in Manitoba, Canada. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1936 to 1949 as an Independent, and was known for promoting left-wing and socially progressive causes such as Georgism.Ozias Humphry
Ozias Humphry (or Humphrey) (8 September 1742 – 9 March 1810) was a leading English painter of portrait miniatures, later oils and pastels, of the 18th century. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1791, and in 1792 he was appointed Portrait Painter in Crayons to the King (i.e. pastels).Portrait of a Large Dog
Portrait of a Large Dog is an oil painting by George Stubbs. Depicting a dingo (Canis lupus dingo), it is the first depiction of an Australian animal in Western art, along with a painting of a kangaroo by Stubbs. It is part of the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London.The work was commissioned by Joseph Banks based on his observations of dingoes on the east coast of Australia in 1770 during Lieutenant James Cook's first voyage of discovery. No specimen was collected for use as a subject, unlike its companion painting The Kongouro from New Holland, and it is seen as a fairly general depiction of a dingo, soon superseded by more accurate depictions in 1789. The two works were the only paintings that Stubbs, highly regarded in the genre, did not draw from a live subject, although it is one of the few oil paintings to present a scientific specimen.It was first exhibited by the Society of Artists in London in 1773 together with his painting of a kangaroo, The Kongouro from New Holland. The painting had been on view in recent years at Parham House in West Sussex during public openings.In 2012, Portrait of a Large Dog and The Kongouro from New Holland were purchased together at auction for 9.3 million Australian dollars by an undisclosed buyer. An application to take them to Australia was refused by the Department of Culture on the grounds of their national importance. Sir David Attenborough, who had led a campaign to keep both portraits in Britain remarked that it was "exciting news that these two pictures, so important in the history of zoological discovery, are to remain where they were commissioned and painted". The National Gallery of Australia had expressed a strong desire to purchase the portraits. In November 2013 it was announced that a £1.5million donation from the Eyal Ofer Family Foundation will enable the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London to acquire the two paintings.The Kongouro from New Holland
The Kongouro from New Holland is an oil painting by George Stubbs. Depicting a kangaroo, it is the first depiction of an Australian animal in Western Art, along with a painting of a dingo—Portrait of a Large Dog—also by George Stubbs. It is part of the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. The work was commissioned by Joseph Banks and based on the inflated skin of an animal he had collected from the east coast of Australia in 1770 during Lieutenant James Cook's first voyage of discovery. It depicts the animal sitting on a rock and looking over its shoulder with a backdrop of trees and mountains. The two were the only two paintings that Stubbs did not draw from a live subject.It was first exhibited by the Society of Artists in London in 1773 together with his painting of the dingo, Portrait of a Large Dog. Subsequent exhibitions were held at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool in 1951 and the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1957. The painting has also been on view in recent years at Parham House in Sussex during public openings.In 2012, The Kongouro from New Holland and Portrait of a Large Dog were purchased together at auction for 9.3 million Australian dollars by an undisclosed buyer. An application to take them to Australia was refused by the Department of Culture on the grounds of their national importance. Sir David Attenborough, who had led a campaign to keep both portraits in Britain, remarked that it was "exciting news that these two pictures, so important in the history of zoological discovery, are to remain where they were commissioned and painted". The National Gallery of Australia had expressed a strong desire to purchase the portraits. In November 2013 it was announced that a £1.5million donation from the Eyal Ofer Family Foundation will enable the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London to acquire the two paintings.Whistlejacket
Whistlejacket is an oil on canvas painting from about 1762 by the British artist George Stubbs showing the Marquess of Rockingham's racehorse approximately at life-size, rearing up against a plain background. The canvas is large, lacks any other content except some discreet shadows, and Stubbs has paid precise attention to the details of the horse's appearance. It has been described in The Independent as "a paradigm of the flawless beauty of an Arabian thoroughbred". The Fitzwilliam family, heirs of the childless Rockingham, retained the painting until 1997 when funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund allowed the National Gallery, London to acquire it for £11 million.Stubbs was a specialist equine artist who in 1762 was invited by Rockingham to spend "some months" at Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire, his main country house. Stubbs had painted many horse portraits, with and without human figures, but the heroic scale and lack of background of Whistlejacket are "unprecedented" in his work and equine portraits in general and "contemporaries were so astonished that a single horse should command a huge canvas that legends quickly developed" explaining why the painting was unfinished, none of which seem plausible or supported by the evidence to modern art historians. In fact Stubbs's earliest canvases on his visit in 1762 included a pair of much smaller paintings of groups of standing horses, one including Whistlejacket, in a horizontal format "like a classical frieze" with a similar honey beige background broken only by small shadows at the feet. It would seem likely that leaving the portraits without the usual landscape background was Rockingham's idea.Stubbs depicts Whistlejacket rising to a levade, but with his head turned towards the viewer, in a pose comparable to a number of earlier monumental equestrian portraits, including examples by Rubens and Velázquez, but in these the emphasis is on the rider. Here the horse is alone and in a natural state, producing a "romantic study in solitude and liberty". Like many of Stubbs's other paintings of horses and other animals in the wild, including several versions of a horse attacked by a lion perched on its back, the painting is an early intimation of Romanticism, as well as a challenge to the lowly place animal painting occupied in the hierarchy of genres.To a greater degree than any earlier painter, Stubbs produced genuinely individual portraits of specific horses, paying intimate attention to details of their form. Minute blemishes, veins, and the muscles flexing just below the surface of the skin are all visible and reproduced with great care and realism. Whistlejacket had already retired after a fairly successful racing career, but was painted in this unusual form to show "a supremely beautiful specimen of the pure-bred Arabian horse at its finest".Yale Center for British Art
The Yale Center for British Art at Yale University in downtown New Haven, Connecticut, houses the largest and most comprehensive collection of British art outside the United Kingdom. The collection of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, rare books, and manuscripts reflects the development of British art and culture from the Elizabethan period onward.