George Stubbs (1724 – 1806)

‘Self-portrait’ 1782

Enamel on Wedgwood earthenware plaque, 93 x 71cm
Accession Number LL3684

George Stubbs, ‘Self-portrait’ 1782

This is one of a handful of surviving enamels which Stubbs painted on ceramic plaques manufactured by Josiah Wedgwood. Stubbs devoted considerable energy to experimenting with and gradually perfecting this new medium. He believed it to be more durable than oil painting on canvas.

Stubbs exhibited a group of enamels, of which this was one, at the Royal Academy in 1782. Other artists did not respond to them as well as he and Wedgwood had hoped.

Acquired almost incidentally as part of Lord Tweedmouth’s collection, this oval was perhaps Leverhulme’s most remarkable single purchase of an 18th century British painting, due to its unusual medium. To complement it he later bought its three companion pieces, which now hang in the gallery.