George Stubbs

Bay Hunter by a Lake

1787

Artist
George Stubbs 1724–1806
Medium
Oil paint on oak
Dimensions
Support: 905 x 1372 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Paul Mellon through the British Sporting Art Trust 1979
Reference
T02374

Not on display

Summary

The bay horse has not been identified, although the picture is believed to have been painted for Arthur Annesley, 9th Viscount Valentia (died 1816). The horse's ears are cropped in accordance with contemporary fashion. The animal is placed in a landscape of mallow and dock, which grow in the shade of a clump of trees in the foreground on the right. In the background are a lake on the left, and a church and village on the far shore. Basil Taylor (p.214) notes that the background in this work is characteristic of Stubbs's landscape during the following decade.

Stubbs's earlier works usually depicted horses with a groom, jockey or owner, whereas in his later pictures, such as this one, the animals were more often shown in solitude.

Further reading:
Basil Taylor, Stubbs, London 1971, p.214, reproduced pl.121
Judy Egerton, British Sporting and Animal Paintings 1655-1867, London 1978, p.96

Terry Riggs
December 1997

Display caption

Stubbs’s paintings of animals convey a feeling of grandeur and nobility, combined with a sense of exacting realism. This unidentified bay horse probably belonged to Arthur Annesley, 9th Viscount Valentia. The horse’s ears are cropped and its tail docked in accordance with contemporary fashion. Stubbs’s earlier horse portraits usually showed the animal accompanied by a groom, stable boy, jockey or owner. However, in many later works, such as this, the horse is shown in solitude.

Gallery label, May 2007

Catalogue entry

T02374 BAY HUNTER BY A LAKE 1787

Inscribed ‘Geo: Stubbs pinxit/1787’ lower centre
Oil on oak panel, 35 5/8 × 54 1/8 (90.7 × 137.4)
Presented by Mr Paul Mellon KBE through the British Sporting Art Trust 1979
Prov: Believed to have been painted for Arthur Annesley, 9th Viscount Valentia (d.1816); by descent to 12th Viscount Valentia, until 1940; Tooth, 1947; Cyril Kleinwort; Leggatt Brothers, from whom purchased by Paul Mellon, 1960.
Exh: Sport and the Horse, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, 1960 (23, repr.); Painting in England 1700–1850: Collection of Mr & Mrs Paul Mellon, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, 1963 (324).
Lit: Basil Taylor, Stubbs, 1971, p.214, repr. pl.121; Egerton, 1978, p.96, no.94.

The horse has not been identified. Its cropped ears (a current fashion) rob the animal of much of its natural dignity. Taylor (op. cit.) notes that the background in this work is characteristic of Stubbs's landscape during the following decade.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981

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