The Farmer's Wife and the Raven
London: Published by George Stubbs, 1788. Etching with roulette and rocker work. State ii/ii, with the title in closed black letters and the engraved inscription: 'The ravens on yon left-hand Oak/ (Curse on his ill-betiding croak) *** Bodes me no good. No more she said,/ When poor blind Ball with stumbling tread/ Fell prone./ The Farmer's Wife and the Raven./ 1st May 1788. Publish'd by G. Stubbs, No.24 Somerset Str. Portman Sq. London.' In good condition with the excepton of being expertly rebacked with facsimilie work in the upper left corner. Sheet size: 20 3/4 x 27 7/8 inches.
A sublime example of Stubbs' masterpiece 'The Farmers Wife and the Raven', which exhibits with dramatic effect the artistic genius of this celebrated 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 is a wonderful copy of one of Stubbs' most famous prints. This dramatic image is derived from a series of political fables by John Gray, the renowned author of the Beggars Opera. This mixed method print combines a number of different engraving techniques, making it one of Stubbs' most complicated prints. The bulk of the engraving uses a complex combination of roulette, scrapers, and rockers producing a richly engraved surface that both excites and fascinates the eye. This famous image exhibits Stubbs' skill as an engraver and the genius of his artistic vision, in this print drama and beauty combine to produce a veritable feast for the viewer.
Lennox-Boyd, George Stubbs 69, II/II; Gilbey, no.47; Sparrow 1922, page 135; Slater, page 610; Siltzer, The Story of British Sporting Prints page 271; Taylor 1969, no. 14 (describes State I); Snelgrove, no. 38; Egerton 1984, no.185.