STUBBS, George engraved by Benjamin Green
The Lion and Stag. From an Original Picture of Mr. Stubbs.
London: Published by Benjamin Green, 1 October, 1770. Hand-coloured mezzotint. State ii/iii, with publication line 'Published as the Act Directs Octbr. 1. 1770. by Benj. Green, Drawing Master to Christs Hospital, & at the Print Shops'. Image size (including text): 16 7/8 x 21 7/8 inches. Sheet size: 18 1/4 x 22 7/8 inches.
This dramatic print is a wonderful example of Stubbs's celebrated work, it combines intense drama with naturalistic observation to create a truly sublime image.
From the early 1760s to the 1790s, Stubbs returned again and again to the theme of horses and stags stalked and attacked by lions. In his hands the encounter takes on the high, elemental drama of a scene from myth, suggesting the struggle of good against evil, beauty against ugliness, civilization against savagery. The simple, relief-like design of the composition in 'The Lion and Stag' brings a sense of quiet power to this emotive image which is incredibly dramatic. Stubbs made many studies of caged lions at the Tower of London and at Lord Shelbourne's menagerie on Hounslow Heath, which helped him truthfully depict the attitude and movement of these great animals.
This print completed Benjamin Green's series of six mezzotints after Stubbs's paintings, but there is some dispute as to which painting Green's mezzotint reproduced. It was most likely after Stubbs's work, 'A Lion Devouring a Stag' which was exhibited at the Society of Arts in 1769. Alternatively, it might have been derived from Stubbs painting 'Lion Devouring a Deer' which had been shown in 1770. In this dramatic work Stubbs exhibits his artistic genius and infuses this dramatic work with a sublime beauty.
Lennox-Boyd, George Stubbs 9 ii/iii; Siltzer The Story of British Sporting Prints p. 270; Snelgrove, British Sporting and Animal Prints 1658-1874 no.23; Sparrow, British Sporting Artists from Barlow to Herring p.134.