STUBBS, George engraved by George Townly STUBBS
London: Published by George and George Townly Stubbs, 1794. Stipple with etching. State iii/iv, with the title in closed letters and the engraved inscription: "G: Stubbs Pinxt. *** G. T. Stubbs Sculp Engraver to his Royal / Highness the Prince of Wales. / PUMPKIN / London Publish'd Feby 20th.` 1794 by Messrs Stubbs Turf Gallery Conduit St." Sheet size: 10 3/4 x 12 1/2 inches.
A compelling portrait of the celebrated racehorse Pumpkin by George Stubbs, one of the greatest English painters.
George Stubbs is considered to be 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 education. 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. By the 1760's, Stubbs had developed a considerable reputation as a sporting artist and had attracted a number of distinguished patrons. Continuing in search of 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' masterful paintings inspired some of the greatest engravers of the day to reproduce his work for publication, including his own son George Townly Stubbs who reproduced with faithful accuracy the sublime emotion inherent in his father's exquisite works. 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.
Stubbs was often commissioned to paint accurate portraits of specific steeds for proud aristocratic patrons, who wished to highlight their horses' racing success. This practice is expertly exemplified with this striking print of the racehorse Pumpkin. The horse Pumpkin by Match'em out of Old Squirt Mare was bred by John Pratt, the successful jockey. He was foaled in 1769 and raced from 1772 to 1775 for Thomas Foley. who had purchased him from Pratt. Pumpkin won sixteen out of his twenty-four races at Newmarket turf, and was described as an excellent runner. In this image, he is pictured with his jockey Old South, who was the most celebrated jockey of his day. Here Stubbs succeeds in raising the genre of equine portraiture to a poetic level by depicting, through stance and expression, the individual character of this famous racehorse.
Lennox-Boyd, George Stubbs 105, iii/iv; Siltzer, The Story of British Sporting Prints, p.272.