Tygers at Play
Published by Ian Bain, 1974. Etching, finished with a graver. State iiia/iiia. Sheet size: 23 1/8 x 25 ½ inches.
This wonderful print is a later impression of George Stubbs masterpiece 'Tygers at Play', this image is both touching and sublime and it epitomizes Stubbs' genius as an animal painter.
George Stubbs is considered one of the greatest English painters. His ingenious animal and sporting pictures remain unrivalled in their passionate depiction of emotion and their commitment to naturalistic observation. Stubbs' was briefly apprenticed to the painter Hamlet Winstanley, a relationship that quickly ended, leaving the young artist to his own tuition. In contrast to contemporary academic theory, Stubbs' attached great importance to the belief that art should imitate nature, not the work of other artists. He spent years carefully studying human and equine anatomy so that he could truthfully represent natural form and movement. A result of this study was his famous 'Anatomy of the Horse', which details, with beautiful engraving, the various elements of a horse's anatomy, from skeletal form to muscular definition. Continuing in search on innovation, Stubbs began experimenting with a myriad of different mediums, becoming accomplished in both enamels and printmaking. Through arduous application, he became a talented mezzotint engraver and worked with ease in both soft ground, and etching techniques. Stubbs was elected director of the Society of Artists and a Royal Academician, and today his prized paintings are housed in some of the finest museums in the world.
This animated image shows two leopards at play in front of the opening of a dark cave. Although the print was entitled 'Tygers at Play', early writings on natural history show that tyger was a generic term, commonly applied to all the larger cats, with the sole exception of the lion. This magnificent print not only demonstrates Stubbs' talents as an engraver but also exemplifies his genius when expressing animal emotion. In contrast to some of his darker images of conflict, 'Tygers at Play' is light and carefree while still remaining true to nature. In mood and effect this image is nothing short of sublime, it blends natural observation with a sense of emotion creating a visual feast for the viewer. This is a later impression from a limited edition of 175 copies, printed in 1974 under the supervision of Philip McQueen. The edition is printed on J. Barcham Green `Penshurst' paper, and published by Ian Bain at the John Boydell Press for Observer Art Ltd. The total edition of 235 prints was completed by 60 copies printed in brown-black ink on J. Green & Co. hand-made paper.
Lennox-Boyd, George Stubbs 60 iiia/iiia; Gilbey no. 36; Parris pp. 7-11; Siltzer, The Story of British Sporting Prints p. 271; Snelgrove no. 27; Sparrow 1922, p. 135; Taylor 1969 no. 2.