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“Firetail with his Trainer by the Rubbing-Down House on Newmarket Heath” by George Stubbs

George Stubbs - Firetail with his Trainer by the Rubbing-Down House on Newmarket Heath - Google Art Project

“Firetail with his Trainer by the Rubbing-Down House on Newmarket Heath” by George Stubbs

“Firetail with his Trainer by the Rubbing-Down House on Newmarket Heath” by George Stubbs shows the horse Firetail with rippling muscles at the hight of his career in 1773. The British elite were racing fanatics in the 18th century, and there was a growing demand for a victorious horse to have their portraits painted by George Stubbs. Stubbs was successful in capturing the individuality of the animals, a skill he developed by his extensive study of horses and their anatomy.

This painting is clearly focused on the famous racehorse, the background is composed of an expanse of sky and the Rubbing-Down House on Newmarket Heath. The trainer is not shown with any distinctive personality,  the racehorse has absorbed all of Stubbs skills and attention.

George Stubbs was best known for his paintings of horses. His most famous work is probably Whistlejacket, a painting of a prancing horse which together with two other Stubbs’s paintings break with convention in having plain backgrounds. Throughout the 1760s he produced a wide range of individual and group portraits of horses, sometimes accompanied by hounds.

Stubbs also painted more exotic animals including lions, tigers, giraffes, monkeys, and rhinoceroses, which he was able to observe in private menageries. He became preoccupied with the theme of a wild horse threatened by a lion and produced several variations on this theme. These and other works became well known at the time through engravings of his work, which appeared in the 1770s and 1780s.

Firetail with his Trainer by the Rubbing-Down House on Newmarket Heath

George Stubbs

  • Artist:                    George Stubbs
  • Born:                     1724 – Liverpool
  • Died:                     1806 (aged 81) – London
  • Nationality:         British
  • Notable Works:
    • Whistlejacket
    • A Lion Attacking a Horse
    • Painting of a kangaroo

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“Nobody is born wise.” African proverb

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Photo Credits: 1)George Stubbs [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons