T02359 BROOD MARES AND COLTS IN A LANDSCAPE ?exh. 1783
Oil on canvas, 24 3/4 × 29 1/2 (62.8 × 74.8)
Presented by Mr Paul Mellon KBE through the British Sporting Art Trust 1979.
Prov: Anon. sale, Christie's 5 February 1791 (62, as ‘Brood Mares and Foals by Gilpin and Landscape by Barrett’); ...; J.S. Mansford by 1868; ...; anon. sale, Christie's 14 July 1961 (140, as ‘Gilpin. A string of horses and foals in a woodland clearing’), bt. Betts; Leggatt Brothers, from whom purchased by Paul Mellon 1961.
Exh: ? Society of Artists, 1783 (100, as ‘Brood Mares and Colts in a Landscape’ by Gilpin); National Exhibition of Works of Art, Leeds General Infirmary, 1868 (1104); Painting in England 1700–1850: Collection of Mr & Mrs Paul Mellon, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond Virginia 1963 (338, pl.96).
Lit: Egerton, 1978, p.120, no.118, repr. pl.44.
The horses are by Gilpin, and the landscape by Barret. Gilpin had little confidence in his own ability to provide realistic settings for his paintings of horses. In 1804 Farington reported a conversation between Gilpin and Francis Bourgeois RA on the ‘extraordinary ability’ of ‘Marshall, a Horsepainter’, during which ‘Gilpin had said that in managing His backgrounds He [Benjamin Marshall] had done that which Stubbs and Himself never could venture upon’ (ed. Kenneth Garlick and Angus Macintyre, The Diary of Joseph Farington, VI, p.2282; entry for 28 March 1804). Gilpin's own landscape backgrounds, though pleasantly coloured (usually in bluish-green), lack both originality and definition.
For his more ambitious compositions, Gilpin often invited other artists to add landscape backgrounds (and occasionally figures). Other examples of his collaboration with George Barret include ‘Colonel Thornton with his Pointers’, 1770 (coll. Winchester House Property Co. Ltd., exh. Arts Council, British Sporting Painting 1650–1850, 1974–5, 62) and ‘Anglers landing a catch on Lake Windermere’ (Mellon Collection). Gilpin's collaboration with William Marlow produced the splendid picture of ‘The Duke of Cumberland visiting his Stud’, c.1764, Gilpin painting the numerous horses and Marlow the landscape with a view of Windsor Castle (coll. Her Majesty the Queen; Millar, 1969, cat.no.826, pl.21). In ‘William Coates of Pasture House, Northallerton’ (private coll., exh. Arts Council, 1974–5, 64), Gilpin collaborated with Johan Zoffany; in ‘Henry Styleman and his first wife’, a double portrait with horses and grooms c.1783 (coll. Lady Thompson, repr. David Coombs, Sport and the Countryside, 1978, p.108), the figures were painted by Zoffany, the landscape by Farington and the horses by Gilpin.
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981