'The Fall of Phaeton', c 1780

Three horses lead a chariot through the clouds

The label text for this Wedgwood jasperware tablet in the exhibition 'George Stubbs: A Celebration' has been written by Eithne Browne, the actress, singer and presenter, who played Chrissy Rogers in Brookside.

"If you look at the manes of the horses - that's the first thing that drew me - there's such a feeling of movement there. For a piece of clay, it's extraordinary. You feel these horses are absolutely tearing away and this man, Phaeton, is desperately straining to keep them under control.

When you look closer, you can see how Stubbs has managed to get the veins under the skin of the horses, and the muscles, and the individual shape of each horse, and first of all you just see three horses and then you count the bodies and there's a fourth away at the back, probably pulling harder than the others. The clouds are moving, it's a windy day. How he's got that from the base material, it's incredible.

...It's that thing where you borrow Dad's first Cadillac, and it's your first time behind the wheel, and it's too perfect, and you crash it, and the whole world goes dark. Nothing much has changed in the world; the entreaties of that favourite child will always make Dad do something he shouldn't, and common-sense is overruled."

Further information about this painting

  • Modelled by George Stubbs (1724 - 1806)
  • Wedgwood jasperware tablet
  • 27 x 48cm
  • Accession number LL1508

Read more about 'The Fall of Phaeton' and other Wedgwood enamel works by George Stubbs in the Lady Lever Art Gallery's collections|.