'A Cheetah and a Stag', 1765
The label text for this painting in the exhibition 'George Stubbs: A Celebration' has been written by Dorothy Kuya, executive member of Granby Residents Association and co-opted trustee, National Museums Liverpool.
"Speaking as a Black woman, I've not seen many paintings of Black people in art galleries, so the first thing that drew my attention to this picture was the two Black guys. They look like quite strong characters and they're very real, the way they're painted. Some painters can't do Black people, I've noticed, they make them look deadpan and flat - and even some photographers don't know how to adjust the light to black skin, but Stubbs has painted them beautifully. He's got the reflections on their features and made them distinct. They're not stereotypes.
That's what initially attracted me, and then when you study the picture more closely, you notice all sorts of oddities. Both animals look very confused, not just the cheetah but even the stag. If the stag sensed danger it would run, I imagine, not stand there so solidly. I love the idea that this is a picture in which the animals are ignoring human wishes and doing their own thing. Neither of the animals is doing what you'd expect, and you don't expect to see two Asian figures in this very British landscape. I love the painting, and in all the time I've known it I've never got bored with it, as you can do with some pictures."
Further information about this painting
Painted by George Stubbs (1724 - 1806)
Oil on canvas
180.5 x 273.5 cm
This painting is from the collections of Manchester Art Gallery.