The setting is Creswell Crags, Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border where, it has been suggested, Stubbs witnessed the scene depicted here (Egerton p.103). Stubbs also used Creswell Crags for the background in many of his horse and lion subjects, including the pair which was probably exhibited in 1763, Horse Frightened by a Lion (Tate Gallery T06869) and Horse Devoured by a Lion (Tate Gallery T02058), and in other paintings of the 1760s.
This was the first of Stubbs's paintings to enter a public collection. Bought for the National Gallery in 1895, it was transferred to the Tate Gallery c.1898. In 1955 the National Gallery reclaimed it, but it was re-transferred to the Tate in 1961. A virtually identical replica is in a private collection.
Judy Egerton, George Stubbs 1724-1806, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1984, reprinted 1996, p.103, reproduced in colour