Walker Artwork of the Month – April 2006

stubbs_horse.jpg‘Horse Frightened by a Lion’, by George Stubbs

Gallery Talk
Free gallery talks Tuesday 11 and Thursday 20 April, 1pm.

From the Walker website…

About the artwork
An apocryphal story has it that George Stubbs stopped off on his voyage home from Italy in 1754, and stayed in a castle at Ceuta on the Moroccan mainland opposite Gibraltar. One evening, walking the walls, he looked out across the moonlit desert and saw a lion stalking, bringing down, and devouring a wild horse. The scene was said to have haunted the painter’s imagination for the rest of his life…

A more likely source for Stubbs’s obsession with the subject, however, is to be found in a life-size piece of antique sculpture – ‘Lion Attacking a Horse’ – that he would have seen in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori in Rome. There is an eighteenth century ‘free copy’ of this dramatic group in Room 5 of the Walker.

Whatever the inspiration, Stubbs’s twenty or so treatments of the theme in various media over thirty years amounted to a repeated narrative comprising four distinct stages or episodes:
A) The Lion stalks the Horse.
B) The Horse becomes aware of the Lion and backs away in terror.
C) The Lion springs onto the Horse’s back.
D) The Horse collapses and the Lion begins to tear at its flesh.

Link to Walker Art Gallery page