STUBBS, George engraved by George Townly STUBBS
William Evelyn, Esq.
London: Published by George Townly Stubbs, 3 August, 1793. Roulette work with stipple. State ii/ii, with the engraved inscription: 'Geo. Stubbs Pinxt. - Geoe. Townly Stubbs Sculpt. Engraver to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales / London pubd. August 3rd 1793 by G T Stubbs No. 86 Hugh Stt. Marylebone'. In good condition with the exception of being expertly re-margined. Skillfully mended tears on top margin extending into image. Image size (including text): 17 5/8 x 21 1/2 inches. Sheet size: 18 5/8 x 22 3/8 inches.
A striking portrait of William Evelyn by one of the most famous English painters, George Stubbs.
A wonderful portrait of William Evelyn which demonstrates Stubbs' remarkable talents as a portrait 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 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.
The gap between the date of the painting (1771) and the engraving (1793), is unusual and falls outside the typical publishing practices of the father and son team. This long delay is difficult to explain since Evelyn was at neither time a topical figure. It is possible, therefore, either Stubbs or his son percieved a commercial demand for portraits and figure subjects in the 1790's, or that they were keen to publicise Stubbs' proficiency as a portrait painter. Interestingly, Evelyn's portrait was an unusually expensive print, retailing at 1 guinea for standard impressions and 2 guineas for colour printed copies and proofs. This price was double what Stubbs was asking for some of his most popular prints.
Lennox-Boyd, George Stubbs 96, ii/ii; Siltzer, The Story of British Sporting Prints p.271.