Major Painting by Stubbs at Auction on December 8

Posted in Art Market by Editor on December 2, 2010

Brood Mares and Foals goes on view in London on December 3. From a Sotheby’s press release (4 October 2010)

Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale (L10036)
Sotheby’s, London, 8 December 2010

Lot 45 (fully entry available as a PDF file here)

Of all Stubbs’ groups of Mares and Foals, this is the noblest composition, its grandeur owing much to the towering rocky formation which seems to lend an air of hardiness to the animals, as well as acting as counterweight to the most spectacular figure in the group, the grey Arabian mare with her flowing tail.

-Judy Egerton, George Stubbs: Painter, Catalogue Raisonné (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2007)

George Stubbs, Brood Mares and Foals, oil on canvas, estimate: £10-15 million, 100 x 187cm. Photo: Sotheby’s

On Wednesday, December 8, 2010, Sotheby’s London will present for sale arguably the finest painting by the British master George Stubbs (1724-1806) ever to come to the market: Brood Mares and Foals, estimated at £10-15 million. Painted in 1767, at the height of the artist’s career, the mares and foals scene is a superlative example of Stubbs’s talents as both a horse and landscape painter. Never before offered for sale, the painting has remained in a distinguished family collection for all of its life to date and its appearance at auction therefore represents an exceptionally rare opportunity for both equestrian and British art collectors alike.

The painting was probably commissioned by Colonel George Lane Parker, the second son of George Parker — the second Earl of Macclesfield of Shirburn Castle, Oxfordshire — and an important owner of Stubbs’s work. It then passed to Thomas Parker, the third Earl of Macclesfield, whose descendant now offers it for sale. Stubbs produced the distinctive group of compositions of mares and foals exclusively for his most important patrons during the early part of the 1760s; they all admired the exquisite accuracy and attention to detail of his work. These leading aristocratic patrons included Frederick St John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke; Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham; Augustus Henry Fitzroy, 3rd Duke of Grafton; George Brodrick, 3rd Viscount Midleton MP; Lord Grosvenor and the Duke of Cumberland.

A relatively unknown and unseen painting, Brood Mares and Foals has only been exhibited once since the eighteenth century. It was first shown at the Society of Artists in the Spring of 1768 and then again in the autumn of that year in a special exhibition to honour a visit by the King of Denmark. The painting was then carefully and privately preserved in the Earl of Macclefield’s family collection for the next 237 years, until it was part of the celebrated Stubbs and the Horse exhibition at the National Gallery in London in 2005, which also travelled to the Kimbell Museum in Texas. (more…)

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