'James Stanley' by George Stubbs, 1755
Artist: George Stubbs (1724 - 1806)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 75 x 62.5 cm
Accession number: WAG 8294
According to his biographer, Humphry, Stubbs commenced work as a painter in 1741 and worked in Liverpool, Wigan, Leeds and York before he settled in London in 1760. This painting is one of only three produced in those two decades that can be authoritatively attributed to him.
The sitter is James Stanley, third son of Thomas Stanley of Cross Hall in Lathom, related distantly to the Earl of Derby. The date of the portrait tallies with Stubbs's final sojourn in Liverpool from 1755 until 1756.
Technically, the work varies in quality. Greatest attention has been lavished on the face, in contrast to the coat which has been painted with less highly wrought brushwork. Given the extremely high quality of the face painting, this suggests rapid execution rather than any lack of ability. Unpretentious in scale and pose, the work is just what might be expected of a commission given by a man of middling means to a provincial portraitist from this period.
Find out more about George Stubbs.