STUBBS, George engraved by George Townly STUBBS
London: Published by George and George Townly Stubbs, 20 February, 1794. Stipple with etching. State ii/iii, with the title in closed letters and engraved inscription: 'G. Stubbs Pinxt.*** Geoe Townly Stubbs Sculp't. Engraver to his /Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. / BARONET / London Publish'd Feby. 20th 1794, by Messrs Stubbs, Turf Gallery, Conduit Street.'. Sheet size: 18 1/2 x 22 1/2 inches.
A lively portrait of the Prince of Wales's famous racehorse Baronet, 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, 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 the show horse Baronet, who was bred by Lord Sherborne. Baronet, a bay colt by Vertumnus, was foaled in 1785 and sold to Sir Walter Vavasour and then to the Prince of Wales. He is shown here with Samuel Chifney, The Prince of Wales's jockey, alighted on his broad muscular back. Baronet began racing in 1789, but his best year was 1791 when he won the hotly contested Oatland Stakes, and everything else that he ran for. Commenting on this print, 'The Sporting Magazine' states: "Mr Stubbs has taken great pains to give the character and style of riding of this celebrate jockey, and the horse upon which he gained so much fame. There is something very singular in this picture; the horse's legs are all off the ground, at that moment when raised by the motion of muscular strengh - a bold attempt, and as well perfected; this attitude has never been yet described but by Mr. Stubbs". (Lennox-Boyd 238-239)
Lennox-Boyd, George Stubbs 100, ii/iii; Slater, Engravings and their Value p.610; Siltzer, The Story of British Sporting Prints p.271; Snelgrove, British Sporting and Animal Prints 1658-1874 no.14.