Ozias Humphry, Stubbs's first biographer, describes how Stubbs made studies for another of the horse and lion series from a live lion kept by Lord Shelburne at his house on Hounslow Heath: 'Whilst he was executing these drawings many opportunities occurred of observing the disposition of this animal: of the manner in particular in which they watch and spring upon their prey ...'. He goes on to describe how the lion stiffened and then sprang at a man who approached its cage while Stubbs was drawing. As well as drawing live animals from close personal observation, Stubbs carried out extensive anatomical studies, making scientifically precise drawings of dissections of many types of animals. It was this knowledge of his subjects combined with his knowledge of Renaissance and Classical art, which put him so far above the other sporting and animal painters of his time. The Tate Gallery owns one other work from the horse and lion series [Tate Gallery T02058] and has another on long-term loan [subsequently purchased: Tate Gallery T06869]. These show different episodes in the encounter of the two beasts.
Simon Wilson, Tate Gallery: An Illustrated Companion, Tate Gallery, London, revised edition 1991, p.34