George Stubbs (1724-1806) is now rightly recognised as one of the greatest and most original artists of the eighteenth century. His profound understanding of anatomy and his uncanny ability to translate the study of nature into remarkably balanced compositions mark him out from other practitioners in the field of animal painting. His most frequent commissions were for paintings of horses, dogs and wild animals, but awareness that such subjects were rated low in the artistic hierarchy did not deter him, throughout a resolute and hard-working career, from producing images that invariably arrest attention and frequently strike a deeply poetic note. Stubbs did not emerge as a painter until he was in his mid-thirties and had moved to London, but in the 1760s his genius flowered astonishingly, prolifically and diversely, and his reputation was first established among noblemen devoted to racing and breeding horses. More than any other painter he steadily and uningratiatingly celebrates English sporting and country life and reveals himself, as in his 'incidental' portraits of jockeys and grooms, as a most perceptive observer of different levels of social behaviour.
Throughout his career, Stubbs constantly experimented with technique and in the late 1760s he began chemical experiments with painting in enamels, first on copper and later on earthenware 'tablets', manufactured for him in Wedgwood's potteries, although these fascinating works never found public favour. In preparation for many years, this is the first full catalogue of Stubbs' paintings and drawings. The full catalogue entries are preceded by a lengthy study of Stubbs' art and career that sets his work in context.