George Stubbs at Bonhams

THE
ENGRAVED WORK OF GEORGE STUBBS (1724-1806), one of England’s
greatest painters, is the subject of a major exhibition curated
by The British Sporting Art Trust and hosted by Bonhams, London
W1 from Monday 25 July to Friday 12 August 2005, complementing
the concurrent exhibition of Stubbs and the Horse at London’s
National Gallery.

The exhibition will be the largest and most comprehensive ever
held of Stubbs’ engraved work. Not only will it display
the beauty of the artist’s masterful compositions, but
also the skill of the 18th century engravers who interpreted
them. Anthony Barbour, Chairman of the British Sporting Art
Trust, says: “Despite Stubbs’ worldwide appeal and
prominence in most major museums of the world, there has never
before been an important exhibition devoted to his engraved
work, which made up a large part of his prolific output. In
arranging this exhibition the British Sporting Art Trust seeks
to address this and the exhibits on display will reveal Stubbs’
remarkable talent as an engraver”.

Although he was primarily known as a horse painter, Stubbs
reveals a wider, more diverse and fascinating side to his oeuvre
through his engravings. The exhibition includes, for example,
some of his earliest known engraved work on the subject of Midwifery.
Etched in 1751 the vivid images show the development of a child
in the womb and reveal Stubbs’s remarkable technical accomplishment,
particularly as he was essentially a self-taught engraver. His
well-known study of The Anatomy of the Horse followed some 15
years later and the examples of his engravings of anatomical
dissections are equally revelatory.

From
1765 Stubbs produced the main body of his work upon which his
reputation as an innovative and unique artist rests. Many of
the engravings echo the themes of his paintings – sportsmen
out shooting with dogs, detailed studies of game dogs and conversation-piece
group portraits of country-folk going about their everyday activities
(eg Haymakers, Reapers, Gamekeepers and Labourers). Unusually,
during this period, Stubbs did only a very few engravings of
portraits of well-known racehorses, with the single exception
of Gimcrack in 1766. However later in his career Stubbs’
engraved work returned on a grand scale to the theme of the
racehorse, resulting in magnificent engravings of famous thoroughbreds.
Two such works are Mambrino and Dungannon from a group of engravings
known as Review of the Turf published by Stubbs in collaboration
with his son George Townly Stubbs in 1794.

Among the highlights of the exhibition is Stubbs’s acclaimed
engraving of A Tigress, an example of one of the many works
which show Stubbs’ ability to capture and portray the passion
and emotion within animals. Such works ensured his fame as an
artistic giant. A contemporary critic on viewing A Tigress wrote:
“without exception it was the finest mezzotint ever engraved”
and the artist Fuseli recorded that “for grandeur this
tiger has never been equalled”.

The exhibition at Bonhams’ New Bond Street galleries,
which is open to the public free of charge, will include more
than 100 engravings, kindly loaned by The British Museum, the
Bri tish Sporting Art Trust’s own collection, The Yale Center
for British Art and important private collectors in America
and the U.K. The Engraved Work of George Stubbs will show Stubbs’s
engraved works for what they should be – as an art form important
in its own right confirming the mastery of Stubbs’s artistic
legacy.

For more details visit the Bonhams
web site.


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