Two Important Stubbs Paintings on Loan to the Walker

George Stubbs. Mares and Foals, painted about 1764. © The Duke of Westminster’s Collection
George Stubbs. Mares and Foals, painted about 1764. © The Duke of Westminster’s Collection

STUBBS LOAN FROM DUKE OF WESTMINSTER’S COLLECTION (ENDS 3 OCT 2010) at The Walker Art Gallery.

Two important paintings by Liverpool-born artist George Stubbs (1724-1806) are on loan to the Walker Art  Gallery from The Duke of Westminster’s Collection.

They were commissioned by his ancestor, the Baron Grosvenor (later 1st Earl Grosvenor). Like many English aristocrats in the 18th century he delighted in breeding racehorses and hunting.

The paintings join other Stubbs works from the Walker Art Gallery’s own collection, showing his remarkable talent in painting a variety of animals. The Walker’s paintings include The Lincolnshire Ox, A Horse Frightened by a Lion and Molly Longlegs.

Above – Mares and Foals, painted about 1764
Oil paint on canvas

Like many 18th century gentlemen Baron Grosvenor spent his leisure time hunting with his hounds, watching horse racing and breeding racehorses. The three mares in this painting were part of his stud farm at the Eaton Estate in Cheshire. Eloisa, on the left, is suckled by her foal Bay Halkin. The other two mares were known only as ‘the Barb Mare’ and the ‘Grey Arabian.’ Few mares were given names unless they were successful racers.

This portrait of mares in the natural surroundings of the English countryside represents a new type of painting which Stubbs created in the 1760s.  This allowed him to show off his skills both as an animal painter and as an accomplished landscape artist.

George Stubbs. The Grosvenor Hunt, painted in 1762. © The Duke of Westminster’s Collection
George Stubbs. The Grosvenor Hunt, painted in 1762. © The Duke of Westminster’s Collection

The Grosvenor Hunt, painted in 1762
Oil paint on canvas

Baron Grosvenor was an enthusiastic hunter and commissioned Stubbs to paint this as a record of his own hunt.

He sits under the branches of an oak tree on bay horse, pointing his whip towards his brother. They wear the Grosvenor Hunt uniform of a scarlet coat with a green collar. The other men in the uniform are two of the Baron’s friends, Sir Roger Mostyn and Bell Lloyd. The figures in green are servants, including a huntsman with a hunting horn. They are riding through fields near the Baron’s Cheshire home, Eaton Hall.

The Baron hung the painting in his London home where the public could view it by appointment.

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