'A Horse frightened by a Lion', George Stubbs, 1770
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 100.1 x 126cm
Accession Number: WAG 2387
Artist: George Stubbs (1724-1806)
Stubbs built his reputation as a horse portraitist. His aspiration to be a painter of loftier subjects probably led him to paint his numerous lion and horse pictures.
Stubbs visited Rome in 1755. Whilst in the Palazzo di Conservatori he saw an antique Roman statue of a lion clawing at a horse's back. This piece was almost certainly the inspiration for the series.
In this painting the horse, tense with fear, is depicted with magnificent anatomical precision. By contrast the lion, possibly painted from a skin, looks rather tame.
An extended study of 'A Horse frightened by a Lion' is also available as part of our Artwork of the Month series.