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George Stubbs

2 of 9 portraits of George Stubbs

George Stubbs, by George Stubbs, 1781 - NPG 4575 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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George Stubbs

by George Stubbs
enamel on Wedgwood plaque, 1781
27 1/2 in. x 20 7/8 in. (697 mm x 531 mm) oval
Purchased with help from the Art Fund, 1967
Primary Collection
NPG 4575

On display in Room 12 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

  • George Stubbs (1724-1806), Painter and anatomist. Sitter in 9 portraits, Artist associated with 6 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • George Stubbs (1724-1806), Painter and anatomist. Artist associated with 6 portraits, Sitter in 9 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The fine neoclassical frame is of a type used by Stubbs for his large enamel paintings in the early 1780s; the design seems to have been originated by Wedgwood with the help of his partner Thomas Bentley and the framemaker Thomas Vials.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Ingamells, John, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, 2004, p. 450
  • Kidson, Alex, Earlier British paintings in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, 1999, p. 159
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 597
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 96, 163 Read entry

    Carved and gilt pine, mitred, keyed and pinned, the fluted section fixed to the pine subframe, the back, top and sight edge moulding carved in box or another hardwood and applied, the oil gilding very friable leaving the gesso visible in many places, the working in the gesso at the mitre leaves also visible. 4 3⁄ 8 inches wide, excluding the spandrels.

    The influence of Josiah Wedgwood on Stubbs's choice of this frame style for his enamel paintings on Wedgwood plaques in the early 1780s is apparent from Wedgwood's correspondence with his partner, Thomas Bentley. The type can be found on Isabella Saltonstall (Fitzwilllam Museum) and The Farmer’s Wife and the Raven (Lady Lever Art Gallery), both plaques of 1782, and in much the same form on WiIliam Anderson with his Two Saddle-horses (Royal Collection), an oil of 1793. Whether Stubbs used Wedgwood's framemaker, Thomas Vials, is not documented, but subsequently he seems to have used another framemaker, Thomas Allwood, who framed two of his pictures for Sir John Nelthorpe in 1785 and eight for the Prince of Wales in 1793 (the bill being endorsed by Stubbs).1

    1 For Vials see p 132; for Allwood see Geoffrey Beard and Christopher Gilbert (eds), Dictionary of British Furniture Makers 160-1840, Furniture History Society, 1986, p 11 and Oliver Millar, The Later Georgian Portraits in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, 1969, p 122.

  • Stubbs, George (English painter, 1724-1806), George Stubbs (1724-1806) : science into art., 2012 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 26 Jan.-6 May 2012), p. 169

Events of 1781back to top

Current affairs

American painter John Singleton Copley, now resident in London, completes his celebrated painting The Death of the Earl of Chatham, depicting the collapse of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham on 7 April 1778, during a debate in the House of Lords on the American War of Independence.
William Pitt the Younger, later Prime Minister, enters Parliament.

Art and science

Astronomer William Herschel discovers Uranus, the first planet to be found by means of a telescope, and names it Georgium Sidus (George's Star) in honour of George III.
Artist and theatre designer Philip James De Loutherbourg presents his innovative miniature mechanical theatre, the Eidophusikon, at his house in Soho, London.

International

American War of Independence: British general Charles Cornwallis is forced to surrender at Yorktown. Maryland ratifies the Articles of Confederation - the last state to do so - completing 'the Confederation of the United States'.
Zong Massacre: 133 Africans are thrown overboard the slave ship Zong on the orders of a British slave-trader who then attempts to reclaim their value from insurers. The case becomes a landmark in the fight for abolition.

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