STUBBS, George engraved by ANONYMOUS
An Arabian belonging to Lord Grosvenor
London: Published by Robert Sayer, circa 1790. Colour printed mezzotint with additional hand-colouring. State vi/viii, with the publication line altered to: ' Printed for ROBERT SAYER Map & Printseller, No. 53 Fleet Street, London'. Sheet size: 11 x 16 1/2 inches.
A magnificent portrait of Lord Grosvenor's celebrated Arabian horse, by the master equine painter George Stubbs.
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' masterful paintings inspired some of the greatest engravers of the day to reproduce his work for publication. 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 mares for proud aristocratic patrons, who wished to highlight their horses' racing success. This practice is expertly exemplified in this magnificent print. The Arabian horse in this print belonged to the first Lord Grosvenor, one of Stubbs' earliest and most important patrons. Lord Grosvenor had two passions, horse racing and collecting paintings; by glorifying one passion he was able to indulge the other. In this clever work Stubbs made the Arabian horse the clear center of attention, even the groom is made to appear secondary to the horse. The artist's anatomical knowledge is displayed in the musculature of the horse's legs and shoulders and by the veins on the muzzle and right hind leg.
Lennox-Boyd, George Stubbs 21, vi/viii; Gilbey, Life of George Stubbs no.28; Siltzer, The Story of British Sporting Prints p.270.