'The Nilgai', 1769-71

Painting of a nilgai beneath a tree by water

The label text for this painting in the exhibition 'George Stubbs: A Celebration' has been written by Nick Ellerton, curator, Knowsley Safari Park.

"Nilgai are the largest antelope species in India. They are common in many areas, which may be due to the fact they hold sacred status. They often give birth to twins. The males as they mature develop a much darker coat; the females retain the light brown one. Only the males have horns and when they fight they do so on their knees.

This is a pretty accurate painting of an adult Nilgai bull despite it standing under an old oak tree! One notices that it is 'slipper hoofed', maybe as a result of having had little exercise, or lack of hard ground to stand on, or maybe from excessive protein in its diet. Today the animal would be sedated and have its hooves trimmed.

For many people, this painting would have been their first opportunity to see what a nilgai looked like. Good for Stubbs!"

Further information about this painting

  • Painted by George Stubbs (1724 - 1806)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 63 x 73 cm

This painting is from the collections of the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow.