STUBBS, George engraved by George Townly STUBBS
London: Published by George and George Townly Stubbs, 20 February, 1794. Stipple with etching. State i/iii, finished proof with the title in open letters and the etched inscription: "G: Stubbs Pinxt. *** Geoe Townly Stubbs Sculp Engraver to his / Royal Highness the Prince of Wales / PROTECTOR / London Publish'd Feby 20th 1794 by Messrs Stubbs Turf Gallery Conduit Street." Plate mark: 16 1/8 x 19 7/8 inches.
A breathtaking print of Lord Grosvenor's famous racehorse Protector, by George Stubbs, England's most famous equine painter.
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 stallions for proud aristocratic patrons, who wished to highlight their horses' racing success. This practice is expertly exemplified with this magnificent print of the racehorse Protector, commissioned by his owner Lord Grosvenor. The image shows Protector in the paddock of Lord Grosvenor's stud farm at Oxcroft. Protector was a horse of some renown, winning many notable victories including the Jockey Club Plate in 1775. This beautiful print was executed by Stubbs's son for the Turf Gallery and demonstrates his superior skill as an engraver. Describing Stubbs's painting The Sporting Magazine states, "A very fine picture; the black gloss upon his coat is so well managed by the painter that it is the admiration of all beholders" (Lennox-Boyd).
Lennox-Boyd, George Stubbs, 102, i/iii; Sparrow, British Sporting Artists from Barlow to Herring, p.134; 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.