Who Are They?

Who is George Stubbs?

George Stubbs was Britain’s greatest sporting painters and is most famous for his paintings of horses

George Stubbs, ‘A Grey Hunter with a Groom and a Greyhound at Creswell Crags’ c.1762–4
George Stubbs
A Grey Hunter with a Groom and a Greyhound at Creswell Crags c.1762–4
Tate

Stubbs taught himself how to draw and paint. He spent lots of time at home drawing and studying, and later he became an anatomy teacher at a hospital in York, England. This meant that he taught students about how human and animal bodies work.

Then in 1756 he decided to write a book on the anatomy of a horse. The book was very popular and soon rich men were asking Stubbs to paint pictures of their favourite horses.

George Stubbs, ‘Otho, with John Larkin up’ 1768
George Stubbs
Otho, with John Larkin up 1768
Tate

Until the invention of the train and the car, the best form of transport on land was a horse. In the mid-1700s when Stubbs was alive, horse breeding and racing became popular. All the rich men and women would go to the races and the horses were so famous that everybody knew their names (a bit like the way we know footballers’ names now).

Many of the horses Stubbs painted belonged to members of The Jockey Club. The painting above is a painting of a horse owned by one of the founding members of the Jockey Club. The horse’s name is Otho and the painting celebrates Otho winning at the Newmarket races.

George Stubbs, ‘Horse in the Shade of a Wood’ 1780
George Stubbs
Horse in the Shade of a Wood 1780
Tate

What made Stubbs a great painter of horses was that he really loved horses and cared about them a lot. Have a look at this picture of a grey stallion, Horse In The Shade of a Wood. There is no owner or jockey here, just a horse alone in the landscape. The horse is free, but there is still sadness in its eyes. Do you think Stubbs sometimes felt sorry for the horses he painted?

George Stubbs, ‘Leopards at Play’ 1780
George Stubbs
Leopards at Play 1780
Tate
George Stubbs, ‘A Lion Resting on a Rock’ published 1788
George Stubbs
A Lion Resting on a Rock published 1788
Tate

Stubbs liked drawing all animals, especially ones from exotic countries. He loved finding out about new species like zebras, cheetahs and moose.

I wonder what these animals are thinking? Have you ever gone to a zoo or farm and drawn the animals? How would you capture their movements or how they growl and chirp?

George Stubbs, ‘A Couple of Foxhounds’ 1792
George Stubbs
A Couple of Foxhounds 1792
Tate

Maybe you could be inspired by George Stubbs to draw your own pet?

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