The dramatic theme of a lion attacking a horse preoccupied Stubbs for over thirty years. This painting comes from a series of four episodes in a terrifying attack on a passive horse. This is the first stage, as the horse scents the lion emerging from its cave and rises up in fright. The setting for this violent encounter is the harsh, rocky landscape of Creswell Crags in the Peak District. The area was then an inaccessible, wild region that fascinated Stubbs. The scenery makes a suitably romantic background for the ‘sublime’ drama of the scene.