Enfilade

Exhibition | Stubbs and the Wild

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on June 28, 2016

HorseFrightenedbyaLionWalker

George Stubbs, Horse Frightened by a Lion, 1770
(National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery)

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Press release (via Art Daily) for the exhibition on view at The Holburne Museum:

Stubbs and the Wild
The Holburne Museum, Bath, 25 June — 2 October 2016

Curated by Amina Wright

The Holburne Museum presents Stubbs and the Wild, an exhibition of animal portraits, grand fantasies, and exquisite prints and drawings by renowned British wildlife painter George Stubbs (1724–1806), on show from 25 June to 2 October 2016. Stubbs and the Wild delves into the many-sided eighteenth-century world of George Stubbs through his realistic animal studies and sublime fantasy pieces, focusing on the artist’s famous depictions of wild animals in paint and print that encapsulated the uneasy relationship between the domestic and the exotic in polite Georgian society.

George Stubbs, Two Leopards, ca. 1776, oil on oak panel, 90.5 × 137.4 cm (Private Collection)

George Stubbs, Two Leopards, ca. 1776, oil on oak panel, 90.5 × 137.4 cm (Private Collection)

Throughout his life George Stubbs was fascinated by how animals are built and studied their anatomy tirelessly. It was this interest that led him beyond horses and dogs to other animals at a time when exotic new wildlife was arriving in London from Britain’s expanding colonies. Moose, leopards, lemurs, antelope and even the remains of a kangaroo were brought home as valuable curiosities and their owners encouraged Stubbs to study the animals and record them for posterity. Although many of them were intended primarily as zoological studies, Stubbs’s paintings of wild creatures are also portraits that capture the behaviour and character of living beings. His most successful essays in the sublime explore the wild, not as a source of curiosity but as a distant, untamed land where nature is merciless and well-fed predators rule. His images of a horse attacked and then devoured by a lion—with variations in different media and reproductions in print—became Stubbs’s signature work.

Alongside paintings, the exhibition will present some of the astonishing works that Stubbs made in other media, using wild animals as his subject. As a printmaker, he was one of the most outstanding etchers of his day, despite being apparently self-taught. He also developed the art of painting in enamels on ceramic, producing jewel-like works of extraordinary clarity and durability.

George Stubbs, The Rev. Robert Carter Thelwall and his Family (Bath: The Holburne Museum)

George Stubbs, The Rev. Robert Carter Thelwall and his Family (Bath: The Holburne Museum)

“The starting point for this exhibition,” explained Amina Wright, Senior Curator at the Holburne Museum and curator of the exhibition, “is the Holburne’s own Stubbs portrait, The Rev. Robert Carter Thelwall and his Family, a polite Georgian conversation piece of a family on a country estate with their horses. This elegant type of portraiture is typical of Stubbs, but this exhibition will explore another side of the artist. By bringing together Stubbs’s anatomical studies and extraordinary images of wild animals, Stubbs and the Wild will present the artist as an indefatigable explorer of the natural world and a bold technical innovator. It will also introduce some of the animal celebrities of eighteenth-century England, from the sweet and fluffy to the majestically terrifying.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a free audio guide featuring responses to Stubbs’s work by animal experts and artists. Visitors will be able to hear a horse whisperer explaining what’s going on in the minds of Stubbs’s horses and an equine vet explaining the artist’s importance to anatomy. Artist Daphne Wright will explain why monkeys are so fascinating, while wildlife photographer and presenter Simon King will share his many years’ experience of observing big cats. Biographer Wendy Moore introduces the lonely moose who made friends with London’s leading scientists, and a deer manager discusses the life cycle of these beautiful native mammals. Stubbs and the Wild is part of a series of special events and exhibitions to celebrate 100 years since the re-establishment of the Holburne Museum in Sydney Gardens.

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Stubbs and the Wild Study Afternoon
The Holburne Museum, Bath, 29 July 2016, 1:00–4:30

George Stubbs, A Lion and Lioness, 1778, enamel on Wedgwood ceramic 43.1 × 61.6 cm (London: The Daniel Katz Gallery)

George Stubbs, A Lion and Lioness, 1778, enamel on Wedgwood ceramic 43.1 × 61.6 cm (London: The Daniel Katz Gallery)

Amina Wright, ‘Introduction’
An introduction to the artist and his animals.

Gaye Blake-Roberts, ‘Wedgwood and Stubbs’
In 1775, George Stubbs contacted Josiah Wedgwood to see if he could produce large ceramic tablets on which to paint animals. Over the next few years a fruitful working relationship grew up between these two extraordinary innovators and indefatigable experimenters. Gaye Blake-Roberts, curator at the Wedgwood Museum, explores his unique alliance between potter and painter.

Tim Clayton, ‘George Stubbs and the Print’
George Stubbs was acutely conscious of the importance of prints in communicating his ideas, as the permanent record of his painted images and as the vehicle for his international reputation. Tim Clayton describes why Stubbs taught himself printmaking and traces his subsequent fascination with the medium. He is the author of George Stubbs: The Complete Engraved Works and The English Print, 1688–1802.

The cost of the study afternoon (£30/£12 students) includes admission to the exhibition Stubbs and the Wild.

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