STUBBS, George engraved by ANONYMOUS
Pangloss belonging to Lord Grosvernor
London: Published by Robert Sayer, circa 1790. Hand-coloured mezzotint. State vi/viii. Sheet size: 11 1/4 x 16 1/2 inches.
A remarkable portrait of Lord Grosvenor's Pangloss, by the master equine painter George Stubbs.
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 racehorses for proud aristocratic patrons, who wished to highlight their horses' racing success. This practice is expertly exemplified with this magnificent print of Pangloss, Lord Grosvenor's beloved horse. Pangloss was foaled in 1755, and named after a character in Voltaire's Candide; little is known about Lord Grosvenor's horse apart from the fact that his racing career was ended by a broken leg. This print was the second of a series of engraved horse portraits begun by the publisher Ryland in 1771 and extended by Robert Sayer in 1777. Although the inscription on the print establishes Stubbs as the painter, the painting has not been identified, making this print extremely intriguing since it is the only record of Stubbs' lost work.
Lennox-Boyd, George Stubbs, 20, vi/viii; Gilbey, Life of George Stubbs, no.39; Siltzer, The Story of British Sporting Prints, p.270.