Whistlejacket

I recently saw George Stubbs‘ 1762 painting, “Whistlejacket” in The National Gallery, London. Its life size scale makes it an extremely impressive piece as you stand before it, this mighty creature rearing above you, untouchable behind the 2D paint but so life like. I want people to feel as impressed and in awe of my work with horses as I was with Stubbs’. The emotion depicted in the horses face, in such acute detail, really brings “Whistlejacket” to life and gives him a character, a story, a history. He becomes more than a painting of a horse, he is his own being.

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Whistlejacket was foaled in 1749. His most famous victory was in a race over four miles for 2000 guineas at York in August 1759. Stubbs’s huge picture was painted in about 1762 for the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, Whistlejacket’s owner and a great patron of Stubbs.

According to some writers of the period the original intention was to commission an equestrian portrait of George III, but it is more likely that Stubbs always intended to show the horse alone rearing up against a neutral background.

Click for audio > Miranda Hinkley: ‘Stubbs’s Horse’ by Roger Robinson.

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