'Molly Longlegs', 1762

Painting of a brown horse being held by a rider with a light blue top

The label text for this painting in the exhibition 'George Stubbs: A Celebration' has been written by Ginger McCain, trainer of Grand National winners Red Rum and Amberleigh House.

"I wouldn't buy a horse with legs as long as that. I know she was called Molly Longlegs but they must be what you call artistic licence. I can't see you getting a horse as long in the cannon bone as that, or one with as light a bone. But she has super shoulders, her ribcage is beautiful, and her hindquarters are grand. Bodywise, she looks a very fit racehorse.

I've never been a great advocate of Stubbs's horses' heads. He always makes them very small, emphasising that they're thoroughbreds, basically. She's showing the whites of her eyes and in some horses that means they're bad-tempered, in others that they're nervous. But she's a mare and mares do tend to flash their eyes at you. You like a horse with a generous eye, and it could just be that the groom is giving her a jab in the mouth, telling her to stand to attention.

I started off thinking I might be quite critical, but while I've been looking at her she's really taken my fancy. I like the look of the groom too, though I might give him a bollocking for leaving his tack in a heap on the ground like that."

Further information about this painting

  • Painted by George Stubbs (1724 - 1806)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 101 x 126.8cm
  • Accession number WAG2389

Read more about 'Molly Longlegs' by George Stubbs from the Walker Art Gallery's collections.