STUBBS, George engraved by William WOOLLETT
Shooting, Plate II
Published by Thomas Bradford, 30 August, 1770. Engraving with etching. Plate two out of four. State v/v, with the engraved inscription and publication line: "Geo. Stubbs pinxt.,***Wm. Woolett sculpt. / Bright Sol's all chaering Beams illume the Day; / The Dew's exhal'd from off the spangled Spray: / Now Covies to the silent stubbles fly, / And fearful Hares, midst Brake and Thistles lie; *** SHOOTING. / Plate IId. / Engraved after an Original Picture in the Possession of Mr. Bradford. / Published by THOS. BRADFORD, No. 132 Fleet Street, LONDON; as the Act directs 30th Augt. 1770.***See Pan and Flora range the late shorn Plain, / Where Game abounds they seldom hunt in vain; / By Instinct strongly urg'd each try around, / Now Snuff the Air, now scent the tainted Ground" Plate mark: 17 1/2 x 22 inches.
A magnificent example of plate two from George Stubbs's rare shooting series, which highlights the artistic genius of this celebrated sporting artist.
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' 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. Through arduous application, he became a talented mezzotint engraver and worked with ease in both soft ground and etching techniques. This rare series is a wonderful example of Stubbs's genius; it brings a subtle complexity of composition and human interaction to a popular sporting theme, thus creating a set of truly compelling images.
Stubbs sets his famous shooting series around Creswell Crag's steep limestone formations on the border between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. In the Crags were caves containing the remains of prehistoric animals, as well as tools and weapons that were some of the oldest signs of human life in Britain. With their primeval and savage associations, they clearly appealed to Stubbs's imagination, and he repeatedly used them as a dramatic backdrop in his emotive paintings. In the shooting series, the crags serve to suggest the idea of the hunt as an age-old human endeavor. Although the two hunters are portrayed as city gentlemen, in this setting they echo the ancient struggle of man against nature, by literally following in the footsteps of early mankind. The paintings were not exhibited as a group in Stubbs's lifetime, but rather individually at the Society of Artists in 1767, 1768, 1769, and 1770.
Lennox-Boyd, George Stubbs 11-14, v/v; Huber , Cataglogue Raisonne du Cabinet d'Estampes de feu Monsieur Brandes.., Wollett; Huber and Martini, Manuel des Curieux et des Amateurs de l'Art, Woollett, no. 16-19; Gori Gandellini, Notizie degli Intagliatori, Woollett, no. 16-19; Joubert, Manuel de l'Amateur d'Estampes, Woollett; Heller, Praktisches Handbuch fur Kupferstichsammler, p.842; Ticozzi, Dizionario degli Architetti, Sculptori, Pittori, Intagliatori, Woollett; Nagler, Neues Allgemeines Kunstler-Lexicon, Stubbs and Woollett, no. 47-50; Andresen, Handbuch fur Kupferstichsammler Woollett, no. 24; Le Blanc, Manuel de l'Amateur d'Estampes, Woollett, no. 41-44; Siltzer, The Story of British Sporting Prints, p.269; Gilbey, Life of George Stubbs, no. 4,8,15,1; Slater, Engravings and their Value, p.696; Snelgrove, British Sporting and Animal Prints 1658-1874, no.5.