Art History

George Stubbs: Animals as Romantic Art

George Stubbs was an English painter best known for his paintings of horses, dogs, and other animals. His birthday is celebrated on the 25th of August. He was born in Liverpool, and he was self-taught in the art of painting. He made a good living selling his artwork, mostly of horses, to the fashionable and aristocratic members of London society. His work hung in some of the most prestigious homes in the city. Stubbs had a great interest in anatomy, even spending 18 months dissecting horses so that he could better capture their real appearance in that aspect.


A Romanticist at Heart

His work is considered to be part of the Romanticism movement. This art movement in Europe was during the latter part of the 18th century and characterized by its emphasis on emotion and the use of historical or natural subject matter. Stubbs, who was talented and glorifying animals in nature setting fits that description perfectly. Since Romantic artists often portrayed strong emotions such as anger, fear, or awe, they painted the animals in moments of distress. Other famous artists in this movement include Casper David Friedrich, J.M.W. Turner, and Francisco Goya. The movement included architecture, literature, and visual art.


If you browse through the George Stubbs gallery, you will see he had amazing attention to detail in all of his pieces. He is able to bring the animals to life on the canvas. There are strong emotions, even in the subtle pieces. For example, you can feel the struggle in Two Bulls Fighting, watching the animals lock horns. The awe of the brilliant white bird in Greenland Falcon. Even the sheer power depicted in one of his most famous horse portraits, Whistlejacket. These are not simply pictures of these animals, they are capturing the moment in vivid detail.


His Legacy

George Stubbs was popular as an artist during his time and has only grown in popularity since.  The highest price paid for a Stubbs painting at auction was a little over 22 million when Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, with a Trainer, a Stable-Lad, and a Jockey was sold by Christie’s of London in 2011. Currently, he has pieces included in the British Royal Collection and the National Gallery in Lon, among others. If you would like to have a piece by this master of the Romantic movement, just take your pick from our wide variety. We know you will love it!

About the Author

Amanda graduated from the University of Kansas, where she studied English literature and got a masters degree in library sciences. She enjoys reading, cooking and playing with her nephews. Her best friend is her little dog Brady.